The Life & Times of Ulysses S. Grant


Grant's world tour in Japan
URL too long to cite. See citations page or click on picture
       After Grant left the White House, he became the first former president to travel the world on his "world tour." He first visited England, Scotland, and Ireland, to the response of huge crowds. He had dinner with Queen Victoria of the U.K. and Prince Bismarck of Germany, and visited Russia, Egypt, the Holy Land, modern Thailand, and what is today Myanmar. He and Mrs. Grant seemed to be happier now that the stress of the presidency was over, and were exuberant in all of their travels. They were welcomed everywhere by the merit of their good-natured reputation. 

      Perhaps Grant's most famous visit was to Japan, where he stayed with the Emperor and Empress at the Imperial Palace. While in Japan, Grant helped settle a political dispute between Japan and China over Ryukyu Islands; Japan announced its intent to annex the islands, and China stood against them. Grant was asked to act as an impartial arbitrator, and decided that Japan's claim to the islands was stronger (although his decision may have been influenced by the fact that he was a guest at the Japanese Imperial Palace!) During his stay in Japan, Grant planted a tree which is still alive in Tokyo today (pictured below).  

Grant's tree today
        After his visit in Japan, Grant returned to the States. In 1879-1880, Radical Republicans attempted to get Grant elected to a third term (which would not be constitutionally outlawed until after Franklin Roosevelt's four terms). He did not receive the Republican nomination, however, and decided to support the man who did---James A. Garfield, who won in the general election. This, however, was the end of Grant's political aspirations.

       Grant's coffers were noticably depleted after his round-the-world trip, and he returned to America nearly bankrupt. To earn some money, he bought a house in New York City and put everything he had into an investment banking plan with Ferdinand Ward at the advice of his financial whiz of a son. Ward ended up scamming the former president, and Grant lost everything. He was forced to pay debts by selling off precious Civil war memorabilia, something very painful for the man whose only successes had come in that era.

       Grant developed throat cancer, most likely caused by the aforementioned cigars he received from ardent fans. Having brought his family into financial ruin, Grant resolved to spend his last days getting them out of it. He began writing for magazines and such, and had some success in that venture. His main project was the completion of his memoirs, which famous author Mark Twain offered to publish in an extremely generous contract that rewarded Grant with 75% of his memoir's sales as royalties. Grant finished his autobiography just days before death, and succeeded in earning his family almost $500, 000. It has been lauded as one of the finest works in its genre, among Caeser's

       Former general, war hero and president Ulysses S. Grant died Thursday, July 23, 1885 in Mount McGregor, New York. He was 63 years old. The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial was finished and dedicated to him in 1922 (pictured below).
Ulysses S. Grant Memorial