Dec. 06 (Friday)

The 18th U.S. President
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 Hiram Ulysses Grant
Full Name: Hiram Ulysses Grant
Born: April 27, 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio
Died: July 23, 1885 in Mount McGregor, New York

Ulysses S. Grant was commander of the Union armies during the later years of the American Civil War (1864-65), after which he served two terms as the 18th President of the United States (1869-77).

Grant’s repeated defense of corrupt appointees, along with the “Panic of 1873” — America’s first industrial age economic depression — were black marks on his record. As he left the White House in March 1877, his policies were being undone by the conservative white Southern opposition, which regained control of every state in the South. These are among the reasons Grant was long considered one of the worst U.S. presidents.

However, Grant’s reputation has significantly improved because of greater appreciation of his foreign policy and civil rights achievements. He won passage of the Fifteenth Amendment, giving constitutional protection for African-American voting rights, and effectively destroyed the Ku Klux Klan in 1871. His Indian Peace Policy reflected his determination to keep Indians from being exterminated by white settler encroachment or by the U.S. military. In foreign affairs, Grant avoided war with Britain and Spain.

Grant was a professional soldier, but he was apparently a soldier with a conscience. Though he served in the Mexican War (1846-48) with distinction, he later wrote, “I do not think there was ever a more wicked war . . . I thought so at the time . . . only I had not moral courage enough to resign.” On the other hand, President Grant attempted to annex the Dominican Republic, a reminder that politics can be complex.