Ulysses S. Grant

(April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885)

“Although a soldier by profession, I have never felt any sort of fondness for war, and I have never advocated it, except as a means of peace”.

Hiram Ulysses Grant was a long-time soldier and 18th President of the United States. He graduated from West Point in 1843 and fought in the Mexican American War alongside General Zachary Taylor. Although Grant retired from the Army in 1854, he was drawn back in when the Civil War erupted. After the Battle of Fort Donelson in 1862, his nickname was “Unconditional Surrender Grant”, as he was an aggressive and straightforward general. After the Battle of Shiloh, where the combined casualties numbered over 23,000, Lincoln said, “I cannot spare this man. He fights.” Once the Civil War ended, Grant remained in charge during the Reconstruction era. He was elevated to Secretary of War until nominated by the Republicans for President in 1868. When he assumed the presidency, he had never held public office, and, at the age of 46, was the youngest person at the time to have served as President.

He helped implement the Congressional plans of Reconstruction in the South and was instrumental in holding new elections with black voters there, which gave the Republicans control over the region. He established a limited number of troops in the Southern states, to protect the Freedmen and quell the antics of the Ku Klux Klan. His presidency was marked by several very forward thinking pieces of legislation that protected the civil rights of the newly freed slaves in addition to aiding American Indians. He signed several bills which promoted voting rights for peoples of all colors. He was harsh with Ku Klux Klan leaders and he won passage of the fifteenth amendment, which gave freedmen the right to vote.  In 1874, an insurgence of paramilitary groups arose in the deep South. Their objectives were to disrupt elections, suppress the black vote, and turn Republicans out of office.  In part because of these groups, Grant was the first president to sign a Civil Rights Act in 1875.

Grant’s poor judgement of character and his willingness to allow nepotism within his administration led to twelve scandals in the eight years of his term. His personal secretary, Orville Babcock, wielded a tremendous amount of power, as he controlled who saw the President. He was tried for various crimes and misdemeanors in 1876, while Grant stood by him. In 1879, he was nominated for a third term as president, but lost the nomination to James Garfield, for whom he campaigned. It was at this point that Grant decided to take a two-year world tour. He returned successful but financially challenged, and around that time it was also discovered that he had throat cancer. While terminally ill, Grant spent his time writing his memoirs. He finished them only days before his death on July 23, 1885. While not financially prosperous in life, his memoirs earned his family $450,000.

— Joan Schaefer Poach


About the Author: Religious, spiritual and liberty-loving Joan Schaefer-Poach has been a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Department of Connecticut since she was three weeks old. Both her mother and her grandmother were Past Department Presidents of the organization for the state of Connecticut, and, in 1997, Joan followed in their footsteps. This made history within the organization, as Connecticut and Massachusetts are the only two states in the country who have had three generations of members serve as Department President.

Joan currently works as a Technical Support Group supervisor for Cablevision in Shelton CT, in a 500- person-plus facility with a group that consists primarily of entry-level individuals fresh out of college. As a result, she experiences first-hand the entitlement attitude that is taught in the public school system and fights diligently to eliminate it in the workplace.

Fed up with the “hate America first” attitude that has taken over the schools from kindergarten all the way through college, Joan believes that the only way to fix this country is by exposing youngsters to our history in a way that brings it to vibrant life — as opposed to the dull recitation of dates and facts. There’s an old saying that states, “what’s past is prologue”, and if we want this country to once again be free of the onerous links to socialism and fascism, our children need our guidance. Joan fervently hopes to assist with this effort.

Editor’s Note: Joan is dedicating all of her contributions to the memory of Andrew Breitbart. RIP.