Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ulysses S. Grant

Monument to Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant was America's 18th president, but he is undoubtedly held in higher regard for his role as a general in the Union Army during the Civil War. Grant was a vigorous leader and is credited with breaking the Confederacy in two when he won the Battle of Vicksburg, a strategic port on the Mississippi River, and when he defeated the CSA at Chattanooga. Eventually, General Robert E. Lee would surrender to Grant at Appomattox. Grant's terms were magnanimous and allowed Lee and his men to return to their homes and farms without being tried for treason.

As a president, Grant was less impressive in his performance. One observer of Grant in the White House remarked that President Grant appeared to have "a puzzled pathos, as of a man with a problem before him of which he does not understand the terms." He often found the job of president overwhelming and would escape to the lobby of the Willard Hotel, where he could be found smoking cigars and drinking whiskey. Unfortunately, persons representing special interests wouldn't leave him alone and would often approach him for political favors. The result: Grant coined the term "lobbyist" to describe "those damned" people! While economic unrest seems to have plagued his administration, Grant is known for a few lesser known, but no less significant achievements. In 1872, he signed a bill that created Yellowstone National Park--the first national park in the nation, and in 1870, he made Christmas an official Federal holiday!

This statue of Grant on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol was sculpted in 1922 by Henry Shrady. It consists of an equestrian statue of Grant flanked on both sides by Union artillery and cavalry, as well as four lions. It is the largest statuary ensemble in Washington at more than 250 feet in length and 70 feet in width. It was dedicated five weeks before the memorial to Lincoln was dedicated. (To see larger photos, click on the images to enlarge.)

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 4/08


b.c. said...

oh wow that is a large memorial/statuary! this was such an interesting post, now i know where the term lobbyist came from! (and it makes so much sense)

p.s. grant was from galena, il--i have the photo of his house and their statue of him somewhere in my archives...

RuneE said...

Thank you for the little known pieces of history about a person known for entirely different things.

Jules said...

I love history and this is so interesting.

Re my phone woes. In a nutshell - we have 21st century technology with 1930's communication systems. The phone systems are so old and in such disrepair they cannot mange this new invention called the internet!!! Hence my grey hair and foul mouth!!!!

D.C. Confidential said...

B.C.: I'd love to see your photos of Grant! As for lobbyists, I worked for a corporate lobbying firm once. Talk about sell your soul to the devil! Never again!

Runee: You're welcome! Thanks for stopping by.

Jules: The best part of doing this blog is all the historical stuff I've been learning!

As per your phone woes, what a drag! I'm afraid I'd be cursing like a sailor, too! (Actually, I have been today. Despite 21st century technology here, it feels like the 1930s!)