Born APRIL 27, 1822, into a Methodist family in Ohio, he was nominated at age 17 for a position at West Point by Congressman Thomas Hamer, who mistakenly added the middle initial ‘S’ to his name.
At West Point, Ulysses S. Grant set an equestrian high-jump record that lasted for nearly 25 years.
After graduation in 1843, Grant was sent to Jefferson Barracks near St. Louis, Mo., and, while visiting the family of a West Point classmate, he fell in love with the classmate’s sister, Julia Dent, and they secretly got engaged.
Grant and Robert E. Lee were both sent to fight in the Mexican-American War.
They participated together in General Winfield Scott’s march from Vera Cruz on the coast to Mexico City.
Afterwards, Grant was stationed in Detroit, then Sackets Harbor, N.Y., then he was sent across the Isthmus of Panama to San Francisco, which was in the midst of a gold rush and cholera epidemic.
Grant was at Fort Vancouver in the Oregon Territory and then Fort Humboldt in northwest California, but intemperance in drinking led to his forced resignation in 1854.
Returning to his wife, Julia, in Missouri, Grant attempted and failed at farming and various business endeavors.
When the Civil War began, he responded to the call for volunteers.
He was quickly promoted to brigadier general and captured Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, gaining the nickname ‘Unconditional Surrender’ Grant.
When Grant captured Vicksburg, it gave control of the Mississippi to the Union and split the Confederacy.
Lincoln made him commanding general of the United States Army.
Grant ended the Civil War at Appomattox, saying, “The war is over. The Rebels are again our countrymen.”
Five days later, Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865.
Lincoln had invited Grant and his wife to the theater that night, but they had plans to travel to Philadelphia.
At Lincoln’s funeral, Grant wept, saying of Lincoln, “He was incontestably the greatest man I have ever known.”
In 1868, Grant was elected the 18th U.S. president.
Considered a radical Republican, Grant worked to end the Democrat policies of racial discrimination in the South, fought the Klu Klux Klan, and supported the 15th Amendment guaranteeing freed slaves the right to vote.