Presidents of the United States

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album, Muscatine County, Iowa, 1889, page 87


ULYSSES S. GRANT, the eighteenth President of the United States, was born on the 29th of April, 1822, of Christian parents, in a humble home, at Point Pleasant, on the banks of the Ohio. Shortly after his father moved to Georgetown, Brown Co., Ohio. In this remote frontier hamlet, Ulysses received a common-school education. At the age of seventeen, in the year 1839, he entered the Military Academy at West Point. Here he was regarded as a solid, sensible young man of fair abilities, and of sturdy, honest character. He took respectable rank as a scholar. In June 1843, he graduated, about the middle of his class, and was sent as Lieutenent of infantry to one of the distant military posts in the Missouri Territory. Two years he passed in these dreary solitudes, watching the vagabond and exasperating Indians.

The war with Mexico came. Lieut. Grant was sent with his regiment to Corpus Christi. His first battle was at Palo Alto. There was no chance here for the exhibition of either skill or heroism, nor at Resaca de la Palma, his second battle. At the battle of Monterey, his third engagement, it is said that he performed a signal service of daring and skillful horsemanship. His brigade had exhausted its ammunition. A messenger mule was sent for more, along a route exposed to the bullets of the foe. Lieut. Grant, adopting an expedient learned of the Indians, grasped the mane of his horse, and hanging upon one side of the animal, ran the gauntlet in entire safety.

From Monterey he was sent, with the fourth infantry, to aid Gen. Scott, at the siege of Vera Cruz. In preparation for the march to the city of Mexico, he was appointed quartermaster of his regiment. At the battle of Molino del Rey, he was promoted to a first lieutenancy. and was brevetted captain at Chapultepec.

At the close of the Mexican War, Capt. Grant returned with his regiment to New York, and was again sent to one of the military posts on the frontier. The discovery of gold in California causing an immense tide of emigration to flow to the Pacific shores, Capt. Grant was sent with a battalion to Fort Dallas, in Oregon, for the protection of the immigrants. Life was wearisome in those wilds. Capt. Grant resigned his commission and returned to the States ; and having married, entered upon the cultivation of a small farm near St. Louis, Mo. He had but little skill as a farmer. Finding his toil not remunerative, he returned to mercantile life, entering into the leather business, with a younger brother, at Galena, Ill. This was in the year 1860. As the tidings of the rebels firing upon Fort Sumpter reached the ears of Capt. Grant in his counting-room, he said,--- " Uncle Sam has educated me for the army ; though I have served him through one war, I do not feel that I have yet repaid the debt. I am still ready to discharge my obligations. I shall therefore buckle on my sword and see Uncle Sam through this war too."

He went into the streets, raised a company of volunteers, and led them as their captain to Springfield, the capital of the State, where their services were offered to Gov. Yates. The Governor, impressed by the zeal and straightforward executive ability of Capt. Grant, gave him a desk in his office, to assist in the volunteer organization that was being formed in the State in behalf of the Government. On the 15th of June, 1861, Capt. Grant received a commission as Colonel of the Twenty-first Regiment of Illinois Volunteers. His merits as a West Point graduate, who had served for fifteen years in the regular army, were such that he was soon promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General and was placed in command at Cairo. The rebels raised their banner at Paducah, near the mouth of the Tennessee River. Scarcely had its folds appeared in the breeze ere Gen. Grant was there. The rebels fled. Their banner fell, and the stars and stripes were unfurled in its stead.

He entered the service with great determination and immediately began active duty. This was the beginning, and until the surrender of Lee at Richmond he was ever pushing the enemy with great vigor and effectiveness. At Belmont, a few days later, he surprised and routed the rebels, then at Fort Henry, won another victory. Then came the brilliant fight at Fort Donelson. The nation was electrified by the victory, and the brave leader of the boys in blue was immediately made a Major-General, and the military district of Tennessee was assigned to him.

Like all great captains, Gen. Grant knew well how to secure the results of victory. He immediately pushed on to the enemies' lines. Then came the terrible battles of Pittsburgh Landing, Corinth, and the siege of Vicksburg, where Gen. Pemberton made an unconditional surrender of the city with over thirty thousand men and one-hundred and seventy-two canon. The fall of Vicksburg was by far the most severe blow which the rebels had thus far encountered, and opened up the Mississippi from Cairo to the Gulf.

Gen. Grant was next ordered to co-operate with Gen. Banks in a movement upon Texas, and proceeded to New Orleans, where he was thrown from his horse, and received severe injuries, from which he was laid up for months. He then rushed to the aid of Gens. Rosecrans and Thomas at Chattanooga, and by a series of strategic and technical measures put the Union Army in fighting condition. Then followed the bloody battles at Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain, and Missionary Ridge, in which the rebels were routed with great loss. This won for him unbounded praise in the North. On the 4th of February,1864, Congress revived the grade of lieutenant general, and the rank was conferred on Gen. Grant. He repaired to Washington to receive his credentials and enter upon the duties of his new office.

Gen. Grant decided as soon as he took charge of the army to concentrate the widely-dispersed National troops for an attack upon Richmond, the nominal capital of the Rebellion, and endeavor there to destroy the rebel armies which would be promptly assembled from all quarters for its defence. The whole continent seemed to tremble under the tramp of these majestic armies, rushing to the decisive battle field. Steamers were crowded with troops. Railway trains were burdened with closely packed thousands. His plans were comprehensive and involved a series of campaigns, which were executed with remarkable energy and ability, and were consummated at the surrender of Lee, April 9, 1865.

The war was ended. The Union was saved. The almost unanimous voice of the Nation declared Gen. Grant to be the most prominent instrument in its salvation. The emminent services he had thus rendered the country brought him conspicuously forward as the Republican candidate for the Presidential chair.

At the Republican convention held at Chicago, May 21, 1868, he was unanimously nominated for the Presidency, and at the autumn election received a majority of the popular vote, and 214 out of 294 electoral votes. The National Convention of the Republican party which met at Philadelphia on the 5th of June, 1872, placed Gen. Grant in nomination for a second term by a unanimous vote. The selection was emphatically indorsed by the people five months later, 292 electoral votes being cast for him.

Soon after the close of his second term, Gen. Grant started upon his famous trip around the world. He visited almost every country of the civilized world, and was everywhere received with such ovations and demonstrations of respect and honor, private as well as public and official, as were never before bestowed upon any citizen of the United States.

He was the most prominent candidate before the Republican National Convention in 1880 for a re-nomination for President. He went to New York and embarked in the brokerage business under the firm of Grant & ward. The latter proved a villain, wrecked Grant's fortune, and for larceny was sent to the penitentiary. The General was attacked with cancer in the throat, but suffered in his stoic-like manner, never complaining. He was re-instated as General of the Army and retired by Congress. The cancer soon finished its deadly work, and July 23, 1885, the nation went in mourning over the death of the illustrious General.

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