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AMERICAN HISTORY

18th President:  Ulysses Simpson Grant
Years in Office:  1869 -- 1877 ( 8 yrs )
Party:  Republican
Vice Presidents:  Schuyler Colfax,  Henry Wilson
First Lady:  Julia Dent Grant
Year Born: 1822
Year Died: 1885  ( 63 yrs old )

Ulysses S. Grant was, like Zachary Taylor 20 years before him, an exceedingly popular national hero whose contact with politics was practically non-existent before his election to the nation's highest office.

    Grant was born in a two-room frame house and attended school in a one-room schoolhouse.  He helped run the family tannery and farm until he went away to West Point.  In the Mexican War, he served valiantly.  After serving terms of duty in the Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest, Grant resigned his position and had to borrow money to get home.  He tried farming, real estate and a job as a clerk before he made his glorious name in the Civil War.

    Heeding President Abraham Lincoln's call-to-arms in 1861, he re-enlisted as a Union soldier.  He eventually became a brigadier general with 20,000 men under is command.  His full genius as a military strategist was demonstrated in the 47 -day siege of Vicksburg, and Lincoln put him in charge of all federal armies.  He became the first American since George Washington to be awarded the rank of full general by congress.

    In 1868, the Republicans unanimously nominated him for president, and he used his two terms to foil the scheme of speculators to corner the gold market; approved the Specie Resumption Act; and help restore economic order after the Panic of 1873.