navigation bar Houghton Mifflin Social Studies United States History: Early Years
Biographies Unit Biographies

Ulysses S. Grant 1822–1885
Civil War General and President of the United States

Ulysses S. Grant's father wanted the teenage Grant to leave their Ohio home and go to West Point military academy. Grant agreed just so he could continue his education. He became known for his knowledge of math. Grant, however, liked studying art and literature.

Grant entered into a military career and fought in the Mexican War. He was promoted for his heroism, but he privately believed the war had been horrible and wished he had been courageous enough to resign.

Grant became a general during the Civil War. He won the first major Union victory at Fort Donelson in Tennessee. In 1864, Grant was given command of all the Union armies. They suffered terrible losses, but Grant was able to defeat the South. He was a successful commander because he learned from his mistakes and he tried new strategies.

Grant was so popular when the war ended that he became President of the United States in 1868. He was only 46 years old and the youngest President to serve at that time. He had no political experience and made many mistakes. Among his accomplishments, however, was the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment and a civil rights act. Grant wanted to heal a nation still wounded from the war. The saying on Grant's tomb in New York is from his own words: “Let us have peace.”

Comprehension Check

Why did Grant go to West Point military academy?

Critical Thinking: Fact or Opinion

Is the following statement a fact or an opinion? Grant probably wanted to win the Civil War so that he could become President of the United States.