The Life & Times of Ulysses S. Grant


First known photo of Grant
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          Born Hiram Ulysses Grant  to Jesse Root Grant and Hannah Simpson Grant, the child who was to be known as Ulysses S. Grant came into the world on April 27, 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio. The family moved to Georgetown, Ohio, soon after, when Grant was only a year old. Grant was raised a relatively devout Methodist, though he preferred to worship in private and was often disillusioned with vainglorious church practices. As a child, he worked with his father, who was a tanner. Grant rather disliked the work; he often elected to serve his chore duty on his father's farmland with the horses, who Grant had quite an affinity for.

          In 1939, at the age of seventeen, Jesse secured a place for his son at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Grant had no desire to join the military. The only reason he gave in was because he saw no other way to continue his education, which was important to him. While filling out paperwork for his attendance at West Point, Grant decided to make one of the most famous name changes in history---he enrolled as Ulysses Hiram Grant, instead of his given Hiram Ulysses. However, someone at West Point mixed up his new name, making him Ulysses S. Grant. Grant took the name, and never made up a middle name for his middle initial. His new initials, U.S. Grant, earned him the nickname "Uncle Sam," or just "Sam."


West Point Academy Emblem
       Grant, considered one of, if not the most, brilliant American generals of all time, was often viewed a slouching slob at West Point. He ranked 21st in a class of 39, and would go on to become famous as an alcoholic. Although Grant's West Point record seems riddled with faults, he did rank excellently on horseback. He set a high-jump record that lasted for 25 years at the academy. He was also a brilliant mathematician, and such a calculating skill may have helped him in campaigns in the future. He enjoyed reading great literature and avidly enjoyed art courses at the academy, spending much free time reading and painting when bored by military learning. 

         Overall, Grant's younger years were characterized by a dreaming ideal. He took no objection to hard work, but was bored or disinterested by many things others wanted or expected him to do. He fancied himself more of a thinker than a man of action, and often formed bonds with animals (his horses) instead of people. Despite his apparent dislike for humanity, he was no hermit---he enjoyed the company of friends and family, and did go on to marry. Altogether, however, Ulysses S. Grant was a man on his own.