Friday, April 26, 2013

Tales of Brave Ulysses

Grant's birthplace in Point Pleasant OH. It toured the US.

April 27th, 1822 is President U.S. Grant's 191st birthday!
I'm not going to attempt a biography of Grant in a mere blog post. His service during the Civil War is heavily documented. I'll just touch on some items you may not know.
Born in a modest home in Point Pleasant OH and moving a year later to Georgetown OH, his given name was Hiram Ulysses Grant. When he entered West Point at the age of 17, a clerical error made him Ulysses Simpson Grant because his Mother's maiden name was Simpson. Including Grant, there are three US Presidents who were born with different names than the name they were elected under. The other two are Ford and Clinton.

During Grant's military career he developed a reputation for binge drinking which may have been exaggerated by his enemies. Some historians think he probably drank as much as any other 19th-century man which is to say, a lot.
 After the Civil War, he became a huge celebrity and became involved in politics. In 1869 became 18th President of the US serving two terms. His Presidential legacy is marred by a series of corruption scandals and economic crisis' during a violent and pivotal era in post Civil War America but he accomplished several great things such as furthering the rights of African-Americans and overseeing the passage of the 15th amendment. I do kind of get the feeling that Grant could have burned the White House to the ground in a drunken rage and he still would be forgiven because of his service in the Civil War. He was that big of a deal to Americans.

Grant may  have been reported on his own highway
Grant's Presidency began a tripleheader of Republican Ohio born Presidents (Grant, Hayes, Garfield) that controlled the White House from 1861 to 1881. Most people don't know that an attempt was made to nominate Grant for an unprecedented 3rd term in 1880 but the deadlocked and divided Republican convention became enamored by fellow Ohioan James Garfield's speech in support of another contender named James Blaine. Grant lost the nomination to Garfield who was shot 4 months into his term by a crazy lone gunman who had written speeches in favor of Grant. There was, of course, no connection to Grant but it is an interesting fact nonetheless.

In 1884 Grant learned he had throat cancer, a sure death sentence in those days. At the urging of supporters, he decided to write his memoirs which he finished just days before he died. I suppose if Grant did get that third term he very well could have been added to the list of Ohio Presidents who died in office. Those Buckeyes can't catch a break.

Being a national hero and all, after he died on July 23rd, 1885 they put his birthplace cottage on a train and toured it all over the US and then they put it back in Point Pleasant OH. I don't think anyone really cared or knew that he lived there for only a year and really grew up in Georgetown OH.
Grant was laid to rest in New York City. Why wasn't he buried in Ohio? NYC was where he and his wife lived after leaving the White House and Julia, who outlived him by 20 years, wanted him nearby so she could visit.
Grant's Tomb in NYC

So who is buried in Grant's Tomb? No one. Grant and his wife Julie are in an above ground vault.

"Grant was himself the supreme example of American opportunity."
-President and fellow Ohioan Warren G. Harding
speaking in Point Pleasant on the
1922 100th Anniversary of Grant’s birth

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