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