A great general and a divisive president, Ulysses S. Grant was born on April 27th, 1822. He fought first in the Mexican-American War, but found it difficult to return to civilian life in the years that followed. Naturally, when the Civil War broke out in 1861, he seized the opportunity and returned to the battlefield, on the side of the Union. Throughout the war, he worked with Abraham Lincoln to achieve victory and brought his own unique strategic abilities to bear against the Confederate forces.
He was a successful leader in battle, but he also possessed great compassion for those around him. He hated hunting and other forms of animal cruelty, he graciously accepted the surrender of several Confederate armies, and he ensured that his old enemy, Robert E Lee, was spared the rope after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. The United States Attorney wanted to have General Lee tried, but Grant went to the President and insisted that, having been pardoned, the Confederate commander should not be charged.
After the Civil War had been won, Grant went on to become the 18th President of the United States. Despite his successes in battle, his presidency proved to be far more difficult, and is often remembered as a series of failures. However, his reputation has been restored somewhat by the opinions of more recent historians, who have focused on his work protecting African-American citizenship and improving relations with Native Americans.
Grant died in 1885 on July 23rd, but not before writing an extensive memoir of his life and career. Penned during his battle with cancer, The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant proved to be a critical and financial success, receiving universal acclaim and comparisons to other great works, such as Julius Caesar’s renowned Commentaries.
This video explores Grant’s life through five key facts, as presented by author and historian Jean Edward Smith. The ongoing YouTube series, History In Five, gives viewers informative and accessible insights into historical figures and events, ranging from political assassinations in Rome to 20th Century American politics, and everything in between.