Ulysses S. Grant was commissioned JULY 25, 1866, as General of the Army, the first ever to hold that rank and wear the four silver star insignia.
Popularity from Civil War victories resulted in him being chosen as Republican candidate for President in 1868.
Earlier, while farming in Missouri, Grant inherited a slave from his wife’s father, a 35-year-old man named William Jones. Though they were in a dire financial situation, Grant freed his slave in 1859 rather than sell him for badly needed money.
Grant signed the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, limiting Democrat vigilante and lynching activity of freed slaves in the South.
Elected the 18th President, Grant supported ratification of the 15th Amendment guaranteeing freed slaves the right to vote.
Grant stated in his Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1873:
“Under Providence I have been called a second time to act as Executive over this great nation…
The effects of the late civil strife have been to free the slave and make him a citizen. Yet he is not possessed of the civil rights which citizenship should carry with it. This is wrong, and should be corrected. To this correction I stand committed.”
Grant worked to stabilize the country’s currency by having it backed by gold, as during the Civil War the Federal Government printed an excess of paper money with no backing except ‘faith’ in the Federal Government.
In his First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant stated:
“Every dollar of Government indebtedness should be paid in gold…
It looks as though Providence had bestowed upon us a strong box in the precious metals locked up in the sterile mountains of the far West, and which we are now forging the key to unlock, to meet the very contingency that is now upon us.”
Of his Indian policy, Grant stated in his First Annual Message, December 6, 1869:
“The Society of Friends…succeeded in living in peace with the Indians in the early settlement of Pennsylvania…
These considerations induced me to give the management of a few reservations of Indians to them.”
President Grant stated in his 2nd Annual Message, December 5, 1870:
“Religious denominations as had established missionaries among the Indians…are expected to watch over them and aid them…to Christianize and civilize the Indians, and to train him in the arts of peace.”
President Grant wrote to Congress, January 1, 1871:
“Indians of the country should be encouraged…to adopt our form of government, and it is highly desirable that they become self-sustaining, self-relying, Christianized, and civilized.”
President Grant stated in his 3rd Annual Message, December 4, 1871:
“I recommend liberal appropriations to carry out the Indian peace policy, not only because it is humane and Christianlike…but because it is right.”
Grant, being the youngest President to that date, 46 years old, had a military training of trusting subordinates, leaving him ill-prepared for dealing with political intrigues, hidden motives and greed of Washington politicians.
As a result, a number of those in his Administration were involved in granting government favors and monopolies in exchange for bribes and insider deals.
Called the “Gilded Age” by Mark Twain, a friend of Grant’s, America saw:
-Immigrants arriving in record numbers;
-Railroads crossing the nation;
-Industry and manufacturing expanded;
-Iron, steel production rising dramatically;
-Western resources of lumber, gold and silver; and the
-Oil industry replacing the use of whale blubber oil, saving the whale.
Industrialists, called “Robber Barons,” amassed great wealth by providing more goods to people at cheaper prices, raising the country’s standard of living:
John Jacob Astor (real estate, fur);
Andrew Carnegie (steel);
James Fisk (finance);
Henry Flagler (railroads, oil);
Jay Gould (railroads);
Edward Harriman (railroads);
Andrew Mellon (finance, oil);
J.P. Morgan (finance, industrial);
John D. Rockefeller (oil);
Charles M. Schwab (steel); and
Cornelius Vanderbilt (water transport, railroads).
Ulysses S. Grant did not personally profit from being in office and even went bankrupt as a result of naively trusting investors.
Struggling financially, and suffering from throat cancer in his later years from cigar smoking, Grant was encouraged by Mark Twain to write his Memoirs of the Civil War in order to provide an income for his wife after his death.
Encouraged by the outpouring of support from people across the country, Ulysses S. Grant, who was a Methodist, wrote in 1884:
“I believe in the Holy Scriptures, and whoso lives by them will be benefited thereby. Men may differ as to the interpretation, which is human, but the Scriptures are man’s best guide…
I did not go riding yesterday, although invited and permitted by my physicians, because it was the Lord’s day, and because I felt that if a relapse should set in, the people who are praying for me would feel that I was not helping their faith by riding out on Sunday….
Yes, I know, and I feel very grateful to the Christian people of the land for their prayers in my behalf. There is no sect or religion, as shown in the Old or New Testament, to which this does not apply.”
Just days after delivering his final manuscript to the printer, Ulysses S. Grant died, July 23, 1885.
Nine years earlier, President Grant wrote to the Editor of the Sunday School Times in Philadelphia, June 6, 1876:
“Your favor of yesterday asking a message from me to the children and the youth of the United States, to accompany your Centennial number, is this morning received.
My advice to Sunday schools, no matter what their denomination, is: Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your hearts, and practice them in your lives.
To the influence of this Book are we indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this must we look as our guide in the future.
‘Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is a reproach to any people.’ Yours respectfully, U.S. Grant.”
The Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.