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Ulysses S. Grant

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Ulysses S. Grant achieved greatness, but not without struggles. He “careened from poverty to riches, from triumph to failure, from humiliation to glorification.” (Smith,14) Grant developed both integrity and strong character in his boyhood years and at West Point Military Academy, that took him through the Civil War, his years as President, and throughout the rest of his life. (Smith, 13-19)

Ulysses S. Grant was born on April 27, 1822 in Point Pleasant, Ohio, during the time period called the “Era of Good Feelings.” (The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, 9) (Smith, 21) His father was Jesse Root Grant and his mother, Hannah Grant, and he had three sisters and two brothers. When Ulysses S. Grant was born, his father and mother could not agree on a name for their son. Grant's father liked the name Hiram Ulysses Grant, but his mother liked the name Albert Gallitan Grant. They eventually agreed on the name Hiram Grant. (Smith, 21-23)

Grant's father owned a tannery in Point Pleasant; but when Grant was only a year old, his father sold their tannery and the family moved to Georgetown, Ohio, where he spent the bulk of his boyhood years. As a boy, Grant did not like school, therefore he did not try to succeed and was considered a poor student. As a teen, he was famous around town for training horses with ease, a skill that would help Grant in his years in the army. (Smith, 21-23)

After Grant's seventeenth birthday, his father suggested that he go to West Point.

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Initially, Grant did not want to go, but reluctantly, agreed to apply. His only motivation for going to West Point was to travel around the world. The congressman in charge of scheduling an appointment for Grant wrote down his name not as Hir...

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... provide for his family after he was gone. Grant's Memoirs soon became America's best seller, second only to the Bible. (Korda, 150)

Ulysses S. Grant passed away on the morning of July 23, 1885. (Grant, 1161) At his funeral, over 1.5 million viewers joined in the celebration of Grant's life and the mourning of his death. The words engraved on his tombstone, which were the mark of his life, were “Let Us Have Peace.” (Smith, 18-19, n.p.)

Ulysses S. Grant's character, which was shaped as a boy and as a soldier at West Point, helped him rise above the struggles he faced as general, President, and throughout the rest of his life. Though Grant faced many difficulties and failures, he had many more triumphs and successes. (Smith, 13-19) “The common thread is strength of character—an indomitable will that never flagged in the face of adversity.” (Smith, 15)
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