Ulysses Grant 18th President, 1869-1877

Birthplace, Point Pleasant, Ohio
Ulysses S. Grant was born 27 April 1822 in picturesque Point Pleasant near the mouth of Big Indian Creek at the Ohio River. The restored one-story, three-room cottage where he was born was built in 1817 and was next to the tannery where Grant’s father worked. The small cottage is furnished with period items. At one time the birthplace made an extensive tour of the United States on a railroad flatcar and was also temporarily displayed on the Ohio State fairgrounds.

Grant was the first of six children. His family had already been in America for nearly two centuries, but none had really made much of themselves. His parents were religious, hard working, and gentle but emotionally cool to their children; Grant never once saw his mother cry. His father was a tanner who took animal hides and processed them into leather. Tanning could be a good living, but the work conditions were horrible-skinned and raw animal carcasses everywhere, their hides tossed into kettles of stinging, stinking chemicals. When Grant was sixteen-years-old, his father made him work in the tanyard. Grant hated the work and swore to his father that once he was an adult he’d never do it again.

Boyhood Home, Georgetown, Ohio
Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of the Armies of the United States, 18th President and first native Ohioan to be elected chief executive, lived in this house from 1824 to 1839. Jesse R. Grant, his father, built the original part fronting Water Street in 1824 and later built an addition fronting Main Cross Street, now Grant Avenue. Grant lived here until the age seventeen when he went to West Point. The following year, his parents moved the rest of the family to Bethel in Clermont County.

Home, White Haven, St Louis, Missouri
Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant was assigned to St. Louis’ nearby Jefferson Barracks following his graduation from West Point in 1843. Soon after arriving in the city, he visited the family of his former roommate, Frederick Dent, at their plantation on Gravois Creek. There he met Fred’s sister Julia, and afterwards his visits became quite regular. Upon learning of his regiment’s impending transfer, Grant proposed to Julia in 1844, and the couple eventually married in 1848.

The White Haven property was a focal point in Ulysses and Julia’s lives for four decades. The Grants lived here off and on during the 1850s. Although the family moved to Galena, Illinois, in 1860, the Grants continued to think of White Haven as their family home. By 1870, President Grant owned nearly 650 acres of the White Haven farm and began readying the property for a relaxing retirement. Although circumstances caused him to abandon those retirement plans, Grant retained ownership of the property until a few months before his death in 1885.

Home, Hardscrabble, St Louis, Missouri
In 1848, Ulysses S. Grant and his new bride, Julia Dent, received 80 acres of Dent family land southwest of St. Louis as a wedding gift. In 1855, Grant started sawing and notching the logs that would be used to build a 4 room, two story cabin on the property that he and Julia received for a wedding gift. The cabin was built in 3 days with the help of some friends. Grant established his farm and named it “Hardscrabble”.

Grant did a large part of the work on the cabin himself. He laid the floors, built the staircase and shingled the roof. The Grant family only lived in the house for a short period of time. The family moved into Hardscrabble in September and moved back to the Dent family home following the death of Julia’s mother in January. Grant ran both his and his father-in-law’s farm. He grew potatoes, wheat and other vegetables, gathered fruit from the orchards and corded wood.

In 1885, the home passed out of the hands of the Grant family and was sold to various people and was finally purchased by Adolphus A. Busch in 1907. In the intervening years, the cabin had been moved to Old Orchard, Missouri and displayed at the 1904 World’s Fair. Adolphus had the cabin moved and reassembled about one mile from its original location. In 1977, Anheuser-Busch had the cabin restored to its present condition.

Home, Burlington, New Jersey
During the latter months of the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant became concerned for the safety of his wife and children. In 1864, wishing to spare them from the physical stress of the War, he brought his family to Burlington, placing them in a house at 309 Wood Street. Grant returned here to visit his family prior to the Battles of the Wilderness. In April of 1865, Grant was invited to attend a play with President Lincoln and Mrs. Lincoln, but declined, preferring to visit his family in Burlington. On his way from Washington to Burlington, Grant received word that the President had been shot. Shortly after the end of the War, Grant and his family returned home from Burlington. The house is now a private residence.

Summer White House, Washington, DC
During Grant’s administration, he authorized the most drastic renovation to the White House since it was damaged by fire during The War of 1812. He had installed glass cut chandeliers, gilded wallpaper, gilt woodwork and ebony and gold furniture. During these renovations, he stayed, among other places, at this house in the Georgetown area of Washington, DC. This was his first “Summer White House.” In 1869, Grant started a tradition that was followed by six other Presidents to visit and spend summers at the resort town of Long Branch, New Jersey on the Jersey Shore. The house he stayed at on Ocean Avenue in Long Branch no longer exists.

Home, Galena, Illinois
The brick house, which was designed by William Dennison, had been constructed in 1860 for former City Clerk Alexander J. Jackson. Thomas B. Hughlett, on behalf of only a small group of local Republicans, purchased the house for $2,500 in June 1865 and presented it to Grant two months later. The house is typical of the Italianate style, which is characterized by well defined rectilinear shapes, projecting eaves supported by brackets, low pitched roof, and balustraded balconies over covered porches.

Following his election as president in 1868 he visited only occasionally. In 1873 Grant commented that “although it is probable I will never live much time among you, but in the future be only a visitor as I am at present, . . . I hope to retain my residence here . . . I expect to cast my vote here always.” The house was maintained by caretakers in anticipation of the President’s visits, the local newspaper reporting that it was “in excellent order and ready for occupation at any time,” adding that “visitors are always admitted.”

Grant made his final visits to his Galena home in 1880. At that time he found that several changes had been made – “a new sidewalk laid in front of the premises, the outbuildings repaired, the trees handsomely trimmed, a new and commodious wash house built and other improvements made.”

In 1904 Grant’s children gave the house to the City of Galena “with the understanding that this property is to be kept as a memorial to the late General Ulysses S. Grant, and for no other purpose.” However, maintaining the Grant’s home proved too costly for the city and the Grant Home Association, so in 1931 the city deeded the house to the State of Illinois.

A thorough restoration project was undertaken in 1955. Considerable research was undertaken as the house was returned to its 1868 appearance. Fortunately, much of the furniture used by Grant and his family remained in the house. Restoration of the home was returned to its appearance as pictured in the November 14, 1868, issue of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper.

Home, Mt. McGregor, New York
President Ulysses S. Grant and family stayed here when he wrote his Personal Memoirs, widely considered to be one of the finest first-person narratives of the Civil War. Period furnishings along with some of Grant’s personal possessions allow you to travel back to 1885 and view the cottage just as Grant left it. On April 23, 1900, as governor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt signed an appropriations bill for the maintenance and improvement of Grant cottage, making it a Future State Historic Site. Four days later, on the 88th anniversary of Grant’s birth, Roosevelt delivered an address on the president and Civil War general, who was his personal hero.

Gravesite, Grant Memorial, New York City, New York
Towards the end of his life, Ulysses Grant’s greatest concern was that there was no inheritance or other future financial provisions for his family. A friend, none other than Mark Twain, urged Grant to write his memoirs in the hope that proceeds from a book would leave his family with some income. Grant knew it was the only thing to do. He approached this last battle as he had all his others-with grim, dogged determination. The task consumed him, for he knew his time was short. Knowing he was dying, Grant wrote honestly admitting his mistakes and sticking to the facts. In its later stages the cancer robbed Grant of his voice, making dictation of the memoirs to an assistant impossible. His last days were spent on his porch with pencil and paper, wrapped in blankets and in fearsome pain, slowly scrawling out his life’s epic tale. The book was completed just days before his death, and was published by Mark Twain. Its success took care of his family for the rest of their lives. Grant’s last campaign was a victorious one.

Ulysses Grant lies in a crypt in the basement of the General Grant Memorial, popularly known as “Grant’s Tomb.” It is the largest mausoleum in America. Its monumental size reflects the public admiration for Ulysses S. Grant – Union General in the Civil War, and 18th President of the United States. After President Benjamin Harrison laid the cornerstone in 1892, it took six year to build the 150-foot-high memorial, using 8,000 tons of granite. Huge crowds attended the dedication in 1897 to honor the man they credited with winning the Civil War, ending slavery, and reuniting the Nation.

Memorial, Riverside Park, New York City, New York
This memorial to Ulysses S. Grant, victorious Union commander of the Civil War, includes the tomb of General Grant and his wife, Julia Dent Grant. A West Point graduate, Grant served in the Mexican War and at various frontier posts, before rapidly rising through the ranks during the Civil War. Grant’s tenacity and boldness led to victories in the Battles of Vicksburg and Chattanooga and Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, scenes depicted by mosaics in the tomb. In 1866 Congress awarded Grant his fourth star making him the first full General of the Armies.

A grateful nation twice elected Grant to serve as President of the United States, from 1869 to 1877. Grant’s accomplishments include signing the act establishing the first national park, Yellowstone, on March 1, 1872. After the Presidency, Grant settled in New York City. Ulysses S. Grant died of throat cancer on July 23, 1885 in Mount McGregor, New York, and was laid to rest in New York City on August 8th.

Approximately 90,000 people from around the country and the world donated a total of over $600,000 towards construction of his tomb, the largest public fundraising effort ever at that time. Designed by architect John Duncan, the granite and marble structure was completed in 1897 and remains the largest mausoleum in North America. Over one million people attended the parade and dedication ceremony of Grant’s Tomb, on April 27, 1897.

Memorial, Washington, DC
Standing to the west of the U. S. Capitol, facing the Lincoln Memorial down the long expanse of the mall in Washington, D.C., is the magnificent memorial equestrian statue of Ulysses S. Grant, a dramatic tribute to the Union’s greatest general.

It is the result of the combined work of sculptor Henry Merwin Shrady and the architect, Edward Pearce Casey, who jointly entered the design competition in 1902. Of 27 designs submitted by competitors, theirs was chosen as the one believed by the judges to be the best fit artistically with the original chosen site, the north side of the great oval lying south of the iron fence enclosing the White House. That site was later rejected and a place in the Botanic Garden grounds between First and Second Streets was approved by Congress on June 30, 1906.

It is an interesting coincidence that Henry Merwin Shrady’s father, Dr. George F. Shrady, a Civil War surgeon, was General Grant attending physician at Mt. McGregor during his last days. Thus Shrady, the sculptor, had some personal knowledge of the general as handed down to him by his father.

It took Henry Shrady 20 years to complete the sculpture of General Grant astride his horse, flanked by an artillery group on one side and a cavalry group on the other. The entire arrangement stands on a great platform 265 feet long (nearly as along as a football field!). General Grant exhibits poise and calm in spite of the tumult depicted in the groupings of men, equipment, and horses at either end of the expanse of the platform. This is an accurate depiction of General Grant’s composure in the heat of battle and Mr. Shrady did a masterful job in conveying one of Grant’s greatest personal attributes. The pedestal, topped by horse and rider, stands 65 feet high.

Mr. Shrady spent the 20 years in unrelenting study and sculpture of the figures of the people (11) and horses (12), accoutrements, and equipment that all came together in this monumental work. He even managed to use his own face as a model for one of the soldiers in the cavalry grouping. At the four corners of the platform are 4 large lions protecting the flags of the U.S. Army. All the stonework for this sculpture is white and was furnished by the Vermont Marble Company.

Henry Merwin Shrady died 15 days before the dedication of the memorial on April 27, 1922 (the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Ulysses S. Grant). In an elaborate music filled ceremony Princess Cantacuzene, granddaugher of General Grant, and her daugher, Princess Ida, unveiled the statue.