Who: Born Hiram Ulysses Grant
What: Union general in the Civil War, later 18th President of the United States
Where: Born Point Pleasant, Ohio.
Why: A stellar record in the West led to his appointment as Commanding General of the United States Army.
When: Born April 27, 1822, died July 23, 1885.
“I have never advocated war except as a means of peace.” – Ulysses S Grant
Ulysses S Grant was an unremarkable man that did remarkable things in his lifetime. Born a tanner’s son, he grudgingly attended West Point – a clerical error listing him as Ulysses S Grant – graduated middle of his class, and served in the Mexican War. He resigned in 1854, and spent seven years struggling financially, eventually working in his father’s leather store. In 1861 he volunteered again, and fought with distinction in the western theatre, turning the tide at the Battle of Shiloh and crucially taking the town of Vicksburg in 1863, effectively cutting the Confederacy in two, and defeating the Confederates in the Battle of Chattanooga, paving the way for Sherman’s March to the Sea. He was given command of all Union armies on March 3, 1864, and eschewed his predecessors’ tactic of territorial conquest, resolving instead to destroy the Confederate armies. He defeated the Confederacy simply by inflicting unsustainable casualties, at great cost, and Robert E Lee finally surrendered to Grant on April 9, 1865. After Lincoln’s assassination, Grant oversaw the military portion of Reconstruction, and was elected President of the United States in 1868 as a Republican. His Presidency was dogged by scandal and his political inexperience, although he managed to ratify the 15th Amendment (prohibiting federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on race) and established the National Parks Service. He lived out his final years writing his memoirs as he slowly died of throat cancer, dying just as the memoirs were published on July 23, 1885 at the age of 63, and was buried in New York City.