Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885) was a general and commander of the Union Army during the American Civil War and later the eighteenth President of the United States. Grant graduated from West Point before serving in the Mexican-American War. He resigned from the Army in 1854 and worked as a farmer near St. Louis, Missouri, and then as a store clerk in Illinois.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Grant returned to the Army. He was given command of the 21st Illinois Voluntary Regiment and rose quickly through the ranks. As a brigadier general, Grant was responsible for the first major Union victory of the war when he captured Fort Donelson, Tennessee, in 1862. He was promoted to major general and had victories at Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga. In 1864, he was promoted again when Lincoln put him in command of all the Union armies. Grant formulated a plan for immobilizing Confederate forces. His forces faced Robert E. Lee’s in stalemates at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor, while Sherman and Sheridan defeated Confederate armies in Georgia and Virginia. By spring 1865, Grant’s plan to defeat the Confederates had been largely realized. On April 9, 1865, Lee was forced to surrender his army at Appomattox Court House.

Grant used his military celebrity to defeat Andrew Johnson in the 1868 presidential election. He was reelected in 1872 over Liberal Republican Horace Greeley. During his two terms, Grant oversaw the last years of Reconstruction. He worked for the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870 and the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. He also signed the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which guaranteed equal rights for African Americans in public places. Grant’s second term was complicated by the Panic of 1873 and the exposure of government corruption in the Whiskey Ring and Crédit Mobilier scandals, but his legacy was one of peaceful transition and reconciliation.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Already have an account?

Please click here to login and access this page.

How to subscribe

Click here to get a free subscription if you are a K-12 educator or student, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program, which provides even more benefits.

Otherwise, click here for information on a paid subscription for those who are not K-12 educators or students.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Become an Affiliate School to have free access to the Gilder Lehrman site and all its features.

Click here to start your Affiliate School application today! You will have free access while your application is being processed.

Individual K-12 educators and students can also get a free subscription to the site by making a site account with a school-affiliated email address. Click here to do so now!

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Why Gilder Lehrman?

Your subscription grants you access to archives of rare historical documents, lectures by top historians, and a wealth of original historical material, while also helping to support history education in schools nationwide. Click here to see the kinds of historical resources to which you'll have access and here to read more about the Institute's educational programs.

Individual subscription: $25

Click here to sign up for an individual subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Upgrade your Account

We're sorry, but it looks as though you do not have access to the full Gilder Lehrman site.

All K-12 educators receive free subscriptions to the Gilder Lehrman site, and our Affiliate School members gain even more benefits!

How to Subscribe

K-12 educator or student? Click here to edit your profile and indicate this, giving you free access, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program.

Not a educator or student? Click here for more information on purchasing a subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Related Site Content