Ulysses S. Grant was commissioned July 25, 1866, as General of the Army, the first ever to hold that rank and wear the four silver star insignia. Though Confederate Robert E. Lee was considered a better general, Grant had the benefit of more troops, allowing him to win by attrition. Popularity from Civil War victories resulted in Grant being chosen as the Republican candidate for president in 1868.
Ulysses S. Grant was against slavery. Earlier, while farming in Missouri, Grant inherited a slave from his wife’s father, a 35-year-old man named William Jones. Though they were in a dire financial situation, Grant freed his slave in 1859 rather than sell him for badly needed money.
Grant was the youngest U.S. president to that date, only 46 years old. As the 18th president, Grant guaranteed freed slaves the right to vote by supporting the 15th Amendment, which passed Congress over a 97 percent Democrat opposition. Grant signed the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, outlawing Democrat-affiliated vigilante terrorist groups from lynching freed slaves.
Grant stated in his second inaugural address, March 4, 1873: “Under Providence I have been called a second time to act as Executive over this great nation. … The effects of the late civil strife have been to free the slave and make him a citizen. Yet he is not possessed of the civil rights which citizenship should carry with it. This is wrong, and should be corrected. To this correction I stand committed.”
Grant protested the continuation of slavery in Cuba, stating Dec. 1, 1873: “Slaveholders of Havana … are vainly striving to stay the march of ideas which has terminated slavery in Christendom, Cuba only excepted.”
Grant worked to stabilize the nation’s currency by having it backed by gold, as during the Civil War the federal government printed excessive amounts of paper money with no backing except “faith” in the federal government.
Grant had stated in his first inaugural address, March 4, 1869: “Every dollar of government indebtedness should be paid in gold. … It looks as though Providence had bestowed upon us a strong box in the precious metals locked up in the sterile mountains of the far West, and which we are now forging the key to unlock, to meet the very contingency that is now upon us.”
Grant defended natural marriage between one man and one woman, stating Dec. 4, 1871: “In Utah there still remains a remnant of barbarism, repugnant to civilization. … Neither polygamy nor any other violation of existing statutes will be permitted.”
Grant ended the Democrat Indian-Removal policy, stating in his first annual message, Dec. 6, 1869: “The Society of Friends … succeeded in living in peace with the Indians in the early settlement of Pennsylvania. … These considerations induced me to give the management of a few reservations of Indians to them.”
Grant stated in his second annual message, Dec. 5, 1870: “Religious denominations as had established missionaries among the Indians … are expected to watch over them and aid them … to Christianize and civilize the Indians, and to train him in the arts of peace.”
Grant wrote to Congress, Jan. 1, 1871: “Indians of the country should be encouraged … to adopt our form of government, and it is highly desirable that they become self-sustaining, self-relying, Christianized, and civilized.”
Grant stated in his third annual message, Dec. 4, 1871: “I recommend liberal appropriations to carry out the Indian peace policy, not only because it is humane and Christian-like … but because it is right.”
As general, Grant issued infamous Order No. 11, expelling Jews from the military. Lincoln immediately rescinded the order. When Grant became president, though, he came to the defense of Jews, protesting their persecution.
Upon hearing of anti-Jewish pogroms in Romania, Grant wrote May 14, 1872: “In answer to a resolution of the Senate of the 28th of March last, I transmit herewith copies of the correspondence between the Department of State and the consul of the United States at Bucharest relative to the persecution and oppression of the Israelites in the Principality of Romania.”
Grant wrote to the House of Representatives, May 22, 1872: “In answer to a resolution of the House of Representatives of the 20th instant, requesting me to join the Italian Government in a protest against the intolerant and cruel treatment of the Jews in Romania, I transmit a report from the Secretary of State relative to the subject.”
This period of American history was called the “Gilded Age” by Mark Twain, who as a friend of Grant’s. America saw:
- Immigrants arriving in record numbers
- Railroads crossing the nation, with the first transcontinental railroad officially completed May 10, 1869
- Steam ships crossing the oceans
- Industry and manufacturing expanded
- Iron and steel production rising dramatically
- Western resources of lumber, gold and silver
- Oil Industry saved the whale! The drilling of oil wells replaced the need for whale blubber oil, thus saving whales from being hunted to extinction.
Though derogatorily referred to as “Robber Barons,” industrialist leaders helped the average American acquire more goods at cheaper prices, thus creating the greatest and fastest rise in their “standard of living” of any people in world history:
- John Jacob Astor (real estate, fur)
- Andrew Carnegie (steel)
- James Fisk (finance)
- Henry Flagler (railroads, oil)
- Jay Gould (railroads)
- Edward Harriman (railroads)
- Andrew Mellon (finance, oil)
- J.P. Morgan (finance, industrial)
- John D. Rockefeller (oil)
- Charles M. Schwab (steel)
- Cornelius Vanderbilt (water transport, railroads)
With the amassing of great wealth also came big business globalist monopolies which attempted to eliminate competition and buy political favors.
Unfortunately, Grant’s military training of trusting subordinates left him ill-prepared for political intrigues, hidden motives and greed of Washington lobbyists. As a result, several in his administration were involved in granting government favors, monopolies, “pork” and crony-capitalism kickbacks in exchange for votes, bribes and insider deals.
Grant did not personally profit from having been in public office. Shortly after serving as president, Grant went on a world tour, till he began to show signs of being ill. He had developing throat cancer from his habit of cigar smoking.
Naively trusting investors, Grant went bankrupt, though he insisted on repaying his debts. Grant was faced with leaving his wife, Julia, destitute. Mark Twain encouraged him to write his memoirs of the Civil War which provided an income for his wife after his death.
Encouraged by the outpouring of support from across the country, Ulysses S. Grant, who was a Methodist, wrote in 1884: “I believe in the Holy Scriptures, and whoso lives by them will be benefited thereby. Men may differ as to the interpretation, which is human, but the Scriptures are man’s best guide. … I did not go riding yesterday, although invited and permitted by my physicians, because it was the Lord’s day, and because I felt that if a relapse should set in, the people who are praying for me would feel that I was not helping their faith by riding out on Sunday. … Yes, I know, and I feel very grateful to the Christian people of the land for their prayers in my behalf. There is no sect or religion, as shown in the Old or New Testament, to which this does not apply.”
Just days after delivering his final manuscript to the printer, Ulysses S. Grant died, July 23, 1885.
Nine years before he died, Grant gave his views on education to the editor of the Sunday School Times in Philadelphia, June 6, 1876: “Your favor of yesterday asking a message from me to the children and the youth of the United States, to accompany your Centennial number, is this morning received. My advice to Sunday schools, no matter what their denomination, is: Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your hearts, and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this Book are we indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this must we look as our guide in the future. ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.’ Yours respectfully, U.S. Grant.”
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