Ulysses Hiram Grant was born April 27, 1822, in a two room frame house at Point
Pleasant, Ohio. His father, Jesse Root Grant, was foreman in a tannery and a farmer. His
mother, Hannah Simpson Grant, was a hard working frontier woman. When Ulysses was a
year old, the family moved to Georgetown. There his father bought a farm, built a house,
and set up his own tannery. Jesse and Hannah had five more children there, two boys and
three girls. Grant love horses and learned to manage them at an early age. When he was
seven or eight he could drive a team and began hauling all the wood used in the house and
shops. From that point on until he reached seventeen, Grant did all the work done with
horses; such as breaking up the land, furrowing, plowing corn, bringing in the crops when
harvested, and hauling wood. Three months each winter when work was minimized Grant
went to a one room schoolhouse, and that's how he was educated until he went to West
Point at age seventeen.
When Grant turned seventeen, his father got him an appointment to the United States
Military Academy at West Point. The congressman who made the appointment did not
know Grants' full name, so he left out Hiram and added Simpson. Simpson, was Grants',
mothers' maiden name.
Grant did not care for military life and never expected to stay in the army. He was good in
mathematics and hoped sometime to teach. He was, however, the best horseman at the
academy. He was Quiet, shy, and he made few friends.
When he was commissioned, Ulysses was ordered to Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis,
Missouri. While stationed there he met Julia Dent, daughter of a slave owning Southern
family . Within three months he proposed to her and was accepted. Since he had only his
pay as lieutenant, the wedding was postponed.
Grant was in almost every battle of the Mexican War. He fought on foot, observing many
different commanders and how they lead their troops. This experience, he said, was of
great value to him, because he became acquainted with nearly all the officers of the regular
army. Some of them including the great soldier Robert E. Lee were to be on the
Confederate side in the Civil War.
Grant came back from Mexico a captain. He at once married Julia and took her to his new
station, Sackett's Harbor, New York. During the Mexican War. This is where Grant
formed the habit of drinking. At Sackett's Harbor he joined a temperance society, but he
forgot the pledge the next year when he was sent to Detroit.
In 1852 Grants regiment was ordered to the pacific coast by way of the Isthmus of
Panama. Mrs.Grant stayed with her parents because she didnt want to take their
two-year-old child on a trip like that. Cholera attacked the regiment in Panama. Grant
showed great leadership and resourcefulness in getting the mules to carry the delirious
men across the isthmus. He kept his cool and showed how he could lead men when times
Grant spent two years on the pacific coast. He missed Julia and wasnt there when his
second child was born. He turned again to drink and wore slovenly uniforms. His colonel
asked for his resignation, and Grant borrowed money to return hom.
Julias father gave Grant 80 acres to farm, near St. Louis. Grant called the place
Hardscrabble. He cleared the land, built a log cabin, and worked hard but could not make
farming pay. Two more children were born and Grant couldnt support his family. Grant
sold his stock and implements and turned to selling real estate in St. Louis. He failed again
and walked the streets looking for something to do. Finally his father persuaded his
younger sons to take Grant into their leather business at Galena, Illinois. Grant worked as
a clerk, selling hides to saddle makers and cobbles. When the Civil War broke out he was
39 years old and was generally regarded as a failure.
After Fort Sumter was fired on April 12, 1861, President Lincoln issued a call to arms.
Within two weeks Grant was drilling volunteers in Galena, because, as he said, there was
no one else to do the job. He went with the volunteers to Springfield, Illinois, wearing his
threadbare citizen's clothes.
At Springfield, the governor made him first a clerk, then a mustering officer. When