BN.com Gift Guide

Ulysses S. Grant (American Presidents Series)

Overview

The underappreciated presidency of the military man who won the Civil War and then had to win the peace as well

As a general, Ulysses S. Grant is routinely described in glowing terms-the man who turned the tide of the Civil War, who accepted Lee's surrender at Appomattox, and who had the stomach to see the war through to final victory. But his presidency is another matter-the most common word used to characterize it is "scandal." Grant is routinely portrayed as a man out of his ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (49) from $1.99   
  • New (14) from $14.38   
  • Used (35) from $1.99   
Ulysses S. Grant: The American Presidents Series: The 18th President, 1869-1877

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook - First Edition)
$11.99
BN.com price

Overview

The underappreciated presidency of the military man who won the Civil War and then had to win the peace as well

As a general, Ulysses S. Grant is routinely described in glowing terms-the man who turned the tide of the Civil War, who accepted Lee's surrender at Appomattox, and who had the stomach to see the war through to final victory. But his presidency is another matter-the most common word used to characterize it is "scandal." Grant is routinely portrayed as a man out of his depth, whose trusting nature and hands-off management style opened the federal coffers to unprecedented plunder. But that caricature does not do justice to the realities of Grant's term in office, as Josiah Bunting III shows in this provocative assessment of our eighteenth president.

Grant came to Washington in 1869 to lead a capital and a country still bitterly divided by four years of civil war. His predecessor, Andrew Johnson, had been impeached and nearly driven from office, and the radical Republicans in Congress were intent on imposing harsh conditions on the Southern states before allowing them back into the Union. Grant made it his priority to forge the states into a single nation, and Bunting shows that despite the troubles that characterized Grant's terms in office, he was able to accomplish this most important task-very often through the skillful use of his own popularity with the American people. Grant was indeed a military man of the highest order, and he was a better president than he is often given credit for.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This study is among the best in the notable series of short presidential biographies presided over by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. While recent biographers have taken a more sympathetic view of Grant than formerly, Bunting goes further to show that Grant possessed that rarest quality among American presidents: nobility of character. He acknowledges Grant's youthful tippling and the defects of his presidency. But as a veteran military officer himself, Bunting (An Education for Our Time) captures Grant's brilliance as a strategist, his quiet compassion, his firm judgment and his humanity as the Union's principal military leader. Then, where other historians hold Grant's administration responsible for many of the failures of Reconstruction, Bunting believes Grant was in his era "the central force in the achievement of civil rights for blacks, the most stalwart and most reliable among all American presidents for the next eighty years." What's more, Bunting does as good a job as possible in making sense of Grant's difficult presidency. If at times the author excuses Grant too much for his handling of scandal and for the consequences of his unwavering loyalty to friends, his defense is well within the bounds of credibility. This superb book should support those who are gradually moving Grant from the lower to the upper half of rankings of chief executives. Agent, Tina Bennett. (Sept. 8) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Forbes Magazine
Is noteworthy because it gives Grant his due as President. His eight-year tenure has been portrayed for decades as a failure, rife with corruption. There were indeed scandals, but subsequent administrations have also had officials not on the up-and-up. We easily forget that most white Americans during those years had little abiding interest in securing basic rights for 4 million former slaves. Grant also did everything he could to help native Americans assimilate and become citizens, at a time when public opinion was all for waging relentless war against them. (4 Jun 2007)
—Steve Forbes
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-While these books are roughly the same length and both provide an easy read, they focus on different aspects of the subject. Bunting's goal is a re-examination of one of the most vilified presidents in American history. Though the author discusses the man's life before and after his presidency, he looks more closely at Grant's record and discovers more in it than has generally been credited. At the end, it must be said that Grant's intentions and character are more praiseworthy than his accomplishments, but one cannot gainsay the successes that he oversaw in foreign policy and in his determined enforcement of civil rights for freedmen in the South. Korda's volume is interested in investigating the psychology of one of the great Americans of the 19th century. He examines Grant's successes and failures and shows the parts of his character that are evident in both. In doing so, he produces a gripping study of the man, operating successfully under the stresses of war, enduring failure in the stresses of peace, and coping with his fatal cancer. It is a broad, sweeping view of the man's life and naturally tends to focus more on his military than on his political career. Neither book tells the whole story; together, though, they provide an admirable introduction to one of the great men of American history.-Ted Westervelt, Library of Congress, Washington, DC Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“All of the volumes in his series so far have been easy to listen to and highly informative.” —The Indianapolis Star
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805069495
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/8/2004
  • Series: American Presidents Series
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 373,427
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.41 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

A Rhodes Scholar and a decorated army officer, Josiah Bunting III served in Vietnam and was superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute for eight years. He is the author of the novels All Loves Excelling, The Lionheads, The Advent of Frederick Giles, and An Education for Our Time. Bunting is also a classical pianist and a long-distance runner. He lives in Newport, Rhode Island.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Ulysses S. Grant

1

A Son of the West

For most of his life Ulysses S. Grant thought of himself as a westerner. He was a child of the great Valley of Democracy, born on April 27, 1822, a hundred yards from the north bank of the Ohio. The country thereabouts was less than a generation removed from raw frontier, Ohio having achieved statehood only nineteen years earlier, and the village of Point Pleasant, some twenty-five miles southeast of Cincinnati, was but a tiny huddle of cabins and rude frame houses. Ohio was the easternmost of the states being carved from the old Northwest Territory, but to New England and New York, to the original states of the Atlantic seaboard, it seemed still a remote West: raw and bountiful, unfettered, rich in possibility.

Forty years later, in 1862, it was as a western general that Grant achieved the sudden celebrity that seems peculiarly American, after his victory and successful demand for an unconditional surrender at Fort Donelson—a Union triumph that thrilled the country and resuscitated its hopes and confidence; and, just two years after that, it was as the famous leader of the western armies that he was selected to command all Union forces. He was "brought east." The small vignette of Grant's arrival in the grand lobby of Willard's Hotel in Washington, in March 1864, is an enduring cameo of American popular history: the most famous man in the country, next to Abraham Lincoln himself, signing the register as "U.S. Grantand son, Galena, Ill.," a traveler so small and dusty that the clerk did not recognize him; an unpretentious guest who could not, it appeared, have cared less. No doubt, too, the instinctive rapport between Abraham Lincoln and his new lieutenant general owed much to their common heritage as westerners—as James Russell Lowell said of Lincoln, "out of the very earth, unancestried, unprivileged, unknown"—and was demonstrated most powerfully in their common understanding of the needs of the South in the days just before, and just after, Appomattox.

Grant, it is true, was "ancestried" in a way that Lincoln was not. It was known that Matthew Grant had landed in Massachusetts Bay in 1630. But Grant's paternal forebears had been moving west for two centuries: from Plymouth, Massachusetts, to the Connecticut River valley, across New York State and Pennsylvania. Ulysses Grant's grandfather, Captain Noah Grant, had fought in the Revolution, lost his first wife, remarried, and moved to western Pennsylvania. Here he and Rachel built a cabin on the Monongahela River, not far from modern Pittsburgh. They raised a large family. Noah, by trade a cobbler and by character an idler, would soon move the family again: first to Fawcettstown, Ohio, on the Ohio River, thence to Deerfield in the Western Reserve.

There is a homely story—such tales cannot be authenticated—that Noah's son Jesse, the father of Ulysses Grant, just shy of his sixth birthday, came upon his mother, who was alone and weeping. "George Washington is dead," Rachel told her son. "Is he any relation of yours?" the boy asked. This was in December 1799.

Rachel died only three years later, and, in the unhappy practice of the time, the family was eventually broken up, the younger children distributed among relatives, and the eldest, Jesse included, put out to make their way on their own. Jesse was eleven.

He made his way by mother wit and determination. In adolescence Jesse's was already an avid, ambitious personality, close to the caricature of frontier Americans already familiar to English and European visitors and readers. A modern student of the Ohio of this time notes that Americans were "fidgety and nervous when not doing something that might be called work." Jesse did odd jobs, wasa roustabout for three years until, by serendipity, he was hired by Judge and Mrs. George Tod to work on their farm near Youngstown. It was the making of him. He lived with the Tods for five years, growing into a young man of Gatsbyan ambition. The Tods lived comfortably and well; they read, they had nice things; they challenged, worked, educated, and inspired him. Jesse developed an unassuageable determination to become rich, to be Somebody. He read voraciously; he became a lifelong autodidact, a man of words and opinions of whom it might be said that "he never had an unuttered thought." But the boy of six who wondered whether his mother was related to George Washington would survive to see his own son twice inaugurated as president: and, at one of those inaugurals, compared to Washington himself.

Jesse moved on. He learned and worked at the tanner's trade under his half brother Peter, in Maysville, Kentucky; later with an Ohio tanner, Owen Brown, and his son (Jesse's contemporary), the future abolitionist John Brown; finally as the young partner of another Ohioan, in Ravenna, John Wells. Tanning to contemporary ears connotes little; it is no more helpful to our sense of its contemporary importance and standing as the fact that Saint Paul's father was a tent maker. Tanning was in fact an enormously lucrative trade in the first half of the nineteenth century. The demand for leather and worked leather goods was huge. This was a business in which, by the standards of rural Ohio, an ambitious, smart man could grow rich. The famous Galena address (U.S. Grant, Galena, Ill.) owes entirely to Jesse's success as a tanner whose business eventually expanded from southern Ohio to northwestern Illinois.

Jesse Grant was now twenty-three. Four years later, in June 1821, he married Hannah Simpson, the third of four children of another widower, John Simpson of Pennsylvania, who, like Captain Noah Grant, had remarried, moved west, lighting finally in Bethel, near Point Pleasant. Here he bought and worked a substantial farm, and here Jesse began his brief courtship of Hannah.

She is variously described as calm, imperturbable, taciturn, "cleanly," quietly devout in her Methodism—a natural complement to her garrulous husband. It is fair to say that in temperament andpersonality, in what psychiatrists call affect, Ulysses became far more his mother's than his father's son.

Hannah and Jesse would have six children, three girls and three boys, but Ulysses—the first—remained the apple of his father's eye for the first thirty years of his life, and, after a gap of several years, thereafter. He served partly as an engine of his father's ambition. Christened Hiram Ulysses (an uneasy burden at best, the "Ulysses" contracted to "Useless" during his boyhood), the son was raised in an atmosphere of easy discipline and devoted attention. Jesse always introduced or spoke of him as "my Ulysses." He doted on him. He communicated both to his son and to the town of Georgetown, the county seat to which the family moved in 1823, that he was, indeed, a child of singular gifts and destiny. The boy would succeed as Jesse was succeeding; he would be, he had to be, noticed and admired. Historians and biographers have imputed a variety of qualities of adult character to the nature of Ulysses Grant's boyhood, but their speculations often seem forced. What is known is that Jesse, a self-important bustler in a small town, bragged about Ulysses at every opportunity and was determined that he have every advantage. For her part, Hannah disbelieved in praise. She was undemonstrative in her affections; she was not a mother to whom the son could repair for understanding and compassionate counsel.

Grant's boyhood was conventional for its time, punctuated by those kinds of events and experiences that childhood friends remember much later on, when their subject has become famous. He was taught at the local subscription school; in adolescence he was sent off for one-year terms at two nearby boarding schools, the latter to prepare him for possible attendance at West Point. He was an unremarkable student: diffident and inward, watchful, reluctant to speak up. The town saw him as bashful, inferring that, because he did not talk much, he wasn't particularly bright.

He was drawn to experiences and work that challenged his practical ingenuity, such as contriving means of moving heavy rocks or logs needed for Jesse's tanning business (which the boy hated and which, no doubt, planted in him a lifetime's revulsion for the sights and smells of slaughter and blood). He evinced an early practicalhandiness—skill for doing, usually alone, practical things that needed to be done, taking particular pleasure in persevering until they were completed. It is not too much to argue that that quality in Grant which Lincoln most admired, and for which he was most constantly appreciative, was already visible in the boy of ten or twelve: that of not asking for help or advice, not freighting problems with imagined difficulties, but just doing them. Forty years on, when General George B. McClellan was demanding and pleading for more soldiers, Grant was asking simply, when do I start? "What I want is to advance."

His own Memoirs provide testimony both ironic and genial.

One of my superstitions has always been when I started to go anywhere, or to do anything, not to have to turn back until the thing intended was accomplished. I have frequently started to go places where I had never been to and to which I did not know the way, depending upon making inquiries on the road. And if I got past the place without knowing it, instead of turning back, I would go on until a road was found turning in the right direction, take that, and come in on the other side.

Grant evinced an early love for horses that was as powerful as his revulsion from the smells and sights of the tannery. There are several recorded memories of prodigies of horsemanship and of a rare and visible ability—what today might be called horse whispering—to communicate with them. By fourteen Ulysses had established a livery service, owned and operated alone, in which the young driver would deliver passengers all over Ohio. Earlier—an incident at the very epicenter of Grant lore, adduced as an example of the boy's dullness and credulity—Ulysses had visited a Mr. Ralston to buy a horse he wanted. Jesse had authorized him to go as high as twenty-five dollars, but to try to get the animal for twenty. "Papa says I can go as high as twenty-five," the boy said to the owner, who promptly sold him the horse for twenty-five dollars. Grant historiography has generally been unkind to the child, locating flaws which will bloomgrossly in later, political, life. But the anecdote may also illustrate other qualities: bottom-line directness and fairness. Grant knew the horse's worth. Nonetheless, the story achieved a wide contemporary currency, generally parsed by resentful neighbors as an example of stupidity. It is one of a small family of such tales; together they limn a portrait of a shy youngster sometimes slow on the uptake, driven in each successive encounter more and more upon his own resources, slowly becoming reluctant to say anything, to disclose to any but his closest companions his feelings and thoughts. Perhaps, as Churchill noted of his own ancestor Marlborough, such slights and twinges of adversity in youth are needed to "evoke that ruthless fixity of purpose and tenacious motherwit without which great purposes are seldom accomplished."

Several Brown County boys had already attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, and one of them, Bartlett Bailey, had attended and failed. A vacancy was thus created. Jesse applied on Ulysses's behalf, seeking the nomination from Congressman Thomas L. Hamer, a former friend whom politics had estranged—Jesse was a Whig, Hamer a Jacksonian Democrat. Hamer now obliged Jesse, in a hurried final act of the spring 1839 congressional session, sending forward the name (so he imagined it to be) "Ulysses Simpson Grant."

The son knew what was coming. Over the previous Christmas holiday Jesse had told him, "Ulysses, I believe you are going to receive your appointment."

"What appointment?"

"To West Point. I have applied for it."

"But I won't go."

In his Memoirs, Ulysses recalled, "He said he thought I would, and I thought so too, if he did."

Had there been an A. N. Wyeth or a Norman Rockwell in 1839, he would surely have been drawn to the scene: the youth, tiny, barely five feet tall, as apprehensive as eager, standing at the end of the dock on the shore of the gleaming broad river, entering upon an adventure that must have seemed cosmic in its dimension. No ardent patriotism or military vocation had brought Ulysses Grantto this pass. His was an opportunity unsought, an obligation laid upon him by a father with whom it would never have occurred to him to argue. The boy was game; he was curious; he seemed marked already by an easy fatalism that predisposed him to make the best of what he had been given, without complaint or undue worry. These qualities had already placed him at the observant edge of things: he was a watcher, slow in passing judgment, comfortable in going his own way, already full of the quiet self-reliance that made him act rather than explain himself. Neighbors and, much later, historians might smile at his horse whisperings, at the homely anecdotes retrofitted to make him look simple. It was widely expected that he would fail at West Point.

All his life, and in the 120 years since his death, friends, rivals and enemies, biographers, and historians have condescended to Ulysses Grant. At seventeen he already understood that he produced such an effect on smart people. Not for the last time, he struck out on his own.

Copyright © 2004 by Josiah Bunting III All rights reserved.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Editor's Note xvii
Introduction: The Problem of Grant 1
1. A Son of the West 7
2. A Military Education 14
3. Peace Is Hell 28
4. "I Propose to Move Upon Your Works" 34
5. Victory 54
6. The Road to the White House 71
7. Politics High and Low 86
8. Beyond Our Shores 99
9. Reconstruction 107
10. The Original Inhabitants 117
11. Reform, Rebuff, Reelection 122
12. Scandals 129
13. A Noble Exit 140
14. The Final Chapter 147
Milestones 157
Selected Bibliography 161
Acknowledgments 167
Index 169
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)