POTUS Fact 18: First President with a Third Term Agenda

The 18th President of America, Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885), was the first President to attain the full rank of General since George Washington and also the first to fight and play an active role in the American Civil War (1861–1865).

Image of President Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885), 18th President of the United States ((1869–1877)/the FEDERALIST.

President Grant’s real name was Hiram Ulysses Grant. At the age of 17, he secured a nomination to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point through his Congressman, Thomas Hamer. Apparently confused with Grant’s mother’s maiden name of Simpson, Hamer mistakenly nominated him as Ulysses S. Grant. The academy would not accept any name other than what was on the nomination form, so Grant adopted the new name as his own. Unbelievably, the S. does not stand for anything at all.

Grant didn’t like the idea as he had no interest in becoming a soldier, however, he realized this was his chance at a college education and eventually decided to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

After graduating from West Point, Grant was part of the military occupation of Texas. He served during the Mexican War with Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott, proving himself a valuable officer. He participated in the capture of Mexico City. By the end of the war he was promoted to be first lieutenant.

Grant never let anyone see him naked. Except maybe his own wife. On the battlefield, soldiers bathed by stripping down and having their comrades-in-arms pour water over them but Grant hid in a sealed tent so no one could see him.

During the Civil War, Grant was appointed the Colonel of the Twenty-First Illinois Infantry. He led the capture of Fort Donelson, Tennessee in February, 1862, the first major victory for the Union. He was then promoted to Major-General of the US Volunteers. Other key victories under Grant’s leadership included Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, and the Siege of Vicksburg.

After the Siege of Vicksburg, Grant was appointed to be the Major-General of the regular army. In March, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln named Grant as the Commander of all Union forces. On April 9, 1865, Grant accepted General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Virginia. He served in command of military until 1869. He was concurrently Andrew Johnson’s Secretary of War from 1867-1868.

Grant narrowly missed Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. He had been invited to go to Ford Theater with President Lincoln but he and his wife Julia decided to travel to New Jersey to visit their children instead. Had he attended, he would have been targeted as well.

In 1868, Grant was unanimously nominated to be the Republican candidate for president. He easily won against opponent Horatio Seymour with 72 percent of the electoral vote. Despite the Black Friday scandal that occurred during his first term in office, Grant was nominated for reelection in 1872. He won 55% of the popular vote. His opponent, Horace Greeley, died before the electoral vote could be counted. Grant ended up receiving 256 out of 352 electoral votes.

Grant was the youngest president elected at the time. The former general was 46 years old and never held elected office when he took office in 1869.

Grant never let anyone see him naked. Except maybe his own wife. On the battlefield, soldiers bathed by stripping down and having their comrades-in-arms pour water over them but Grant hid in a sealed tent so no one could see him.

Both of President Grant’s parents witnessed his presidency. He was the first president to have both his parents living when he assumed office.

Grant was the first President to serve two full terms since Andrew Jackson.

Canaries were supposed to sing at Grant’s inauguration. However, it was so cold that day they all froze to death before singing a note.

President Ulysses Grant’s administration is regarded by historians as the most corrupt in American history.

Five scandals marred Grant’s time as president.

  • Black Friday – Jay Gould and James Fisk tried to corner the gold market, driving up its price. When Grant realized what was happening, he had the treasury department add gold into the market causing its price to plummet on September 24, 1869.
  • Credit Mobilier – Officials of the Credit Mobilier Company stole money from the Union Pacific Railroad. They sold stocks at a huge discount to members of Congress as a way to coverup their wrongdoing. When this was revealed, Grant’s Vice President was implicated.
  • Whiskey Ring – In 1875, many distillers and federal agents were fraudulently keeping money that should have been paid as a tax on liquor. Grant was part of the scandal when he protected his personal secretary from punishment.
  • Private Collection of Taxes – Grant’s Secretary of the Treasury, William A. Richardson, gave a private citizen, John Sanborn the job of collecting delinquent taxes. Sanborn kept 50 percent of his collections but got greedy and began collecting more than allowed before he was investigated by Congress.
  • Secretary of War Bribed – In 1876, it was found that Grant’s Secretary of War, W.W. Belknap, was accepting bribes. He was unanimously impeached by the House of Representatives and he resigned.

Grant was the first President to declare his ambition for a third term in office.

While President, Grant was once arrested for over-speeding. He insisted on paying the fine and wrote a letter to the cop’s boss complimenting the officer on his respect for the law-regardless of who the lawbreaker was.

He was a poor businessman and he failed in his ventures before and after his presidency.

“The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.” – Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885), 18th President of the United States ((1869–1877).

Ulysses S. Grant got married to First Lady Julia Dent Grant (1826-1902) in 1848 and went on to have 4 children, 3 boys and a girl. Julia was known as an excellent hostess and First Lady. She gave their daughter Nellie an elaborate White House wedding while Grant was serving as president.

Julia was also cross-eyed from birth and would sometimes walk sideways to avoid crashing into people, furniture, or walls. Julia Grant almost always was photographed in profile instead of full-faced because of her condition.

President Grant’s favorite breakfast was cucumbers in vinegar and the sight of blood made him nauseous.

Grant loved cigars. He could smoke a whole packet in a day. After a successful Civil War battle, appreciative American citizens sent Grant ten thousand boxes of cigars. He eventually died of throat cancer.

Grant was a gifted writer. After leaving the presidency, Grant became ill and was financially destitute. His memoirs, written as he was dying from throat cancer, show a clear, concise style, and his autobiography is considered among the best, if not the best, written by a president.

Image of Julia Dent Grant
Julia Dent Grant (1826–1902), First Lady of the United States ((1869–1877)/Biography.

On August 8, 1885, 1.5 million people turned up for his funeral in New York City. His mausoleum is the largest of all US presidents.

Thousands of people worldwide donated at total of $600,000 for the construction of Grant’s tomb in New York City. Known officially as the General Grant National Memorial, it is America’s largest mausoleum and was dedicated on April 27, 1897, the 75th anniversary of his birth. When Julia Grant died in 1902, she was buried beside her husband.

Grant’s last word was “water.”

Sources

Neatorama

ThoughtCo.

Constitution Daily

Republican Presidents

History

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Ayomide Akinbode

Ayomide Akinbode holds a degree in Chemistry but has a passion for History and Classics. When he is not writing, he’s either sleeping or playing Scrabble.

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