Ulysses S. Grant


Ulysses S. Grant

Anecdote 1...

Undistinguished and often shabby in appearance, Ulysses S. Grant did not recommend himself to strangers by his looks. He once entered an inn at Galena, Illinois, on a stormy winter’s night. A number of lawyers, in town for a court session, were clustered around the fire. One looked up as Grant appeared and said, “Here’s a stranger, gentlemen, and by the looks of him he’s traveled through hell itself to get here.”

“That’s right,” said Grant cheerfully.

“And how did you find things down there?”

“Just like here,” replied Grant, “lawyers all closest to the fire.”


Anecdote 2...

A friend of Grant’s once took the president to a golf course in the hope of encouraging him to take up the game. After watching a beginner hack the grass around the tee for several minutes without touching the ball, Grant remarked: “That does look like very good exercise. But what is the little white ball for?”


The following photos of Ulysses Grant were taken by Mathew Brady, one of the first American photographers (best known for his scenes of the Civil War). Click each one to see the larger image.

Biographical Note: 

Ulysses Simpson Grant was the 18th president of the United States (1869-77). He came to prominence as an outstandingly able general in the American Civil War, during which he rose to become commander in chief of the Union forces. Throughout his life he was a heavy drinker.

More Information: 

In 1880, bankrupted by bad investments, and terminally ill with throat cancer, Grant wrote his memoirs (The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant), which was enormously successful among veterans, the public, and the critics. The two-volume set was published by Mark Twain shortly after Grant’s death in 1885. The memoirs were a financial and critical success and are still praised for their high literary qualities.

Visit the American Experience website to find out more about this president and to explore other resources.