Ulysses S. Grant was born in April 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio, the eldest son of a tanner and businessman, when he was one his family moved to Georgetown, Ohio.
A shy and reserved child, he hated the idea of working in his father’s tannery business—so at 17, his father arranged for him to enter the United States Military Academy at West Point.
An average student who received demerits for slovenly dress and tardiness, he was happy to graduate (21st out of 39), planning to resign from the military after he served his mandatory four years of duty.
After serving with distinction in the Mexican American War he married his wife Julia in 1848 following a 4 year engagement . In 1853, Grant was promoted to captain however in 1854, he resigned from the Army amid allegations of heavy drinking and warnings of disciplinary action.
Returning to Missouri, he failed as a farmer, in a real estate venture and was unable to find employment as an engineer and clerk and was forced to sell firewood on a the street to earn an income. Finally, in 1860, he went to work in his father’s tannery business, employed as an office clerk under the supervision of his two younger brothers.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Grant volunteered his military services. Using political connections he was appointed to command a volunteer regiment. Following early successes of his regiment he was promoted to major general of volunteers.
Grant’s military objectives of the Civil War were in a marked difference to most of his predecessors, Grant focused on taking down the Confederate armies spending from March 1864 until April 1865 tracking down and destroying General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
Following the Civil War, Grant was promoted to full general and was given oversight of the military portion of Reconstruction. In 1868, Grant was elected the 18th president of the United States —at the age of 46.
As president Grant had deplorable standards in cabinet appointments, and was too quick to defend his friends and colleagues involved in questionable and in some instances scandalous behavior, the booming economy following the Civil War lead to situations that called for strong regulation by a solid government yet the Grant Presidency is charachterised – some say unfairly- as eight years of political plundering in which little was accomplished.
After he left office, Grant, became involved with a New York City investment-banking firm. As was the case before the Civil War Grant was a poor businessman who trusted others too much. Due to his business partner Grant lost everything with his only remaining asset with potential being the publication of his war memoirs.
He began writing as rapidly as possible notwithstanding the onset of throat cancer. A few days before he died in 1885 at the age of 63, Grant completed his autobiography. It is thought that Grant believed his estate would be Bankrupt due to his impoverished circumstances, (he had no net assets, and that his creditors would not be paid in full from the proceeds of his writings) so he did not make a Will.
His friend the writer Mark Twain arranged that Grant and his family would receive 75% of the net royalties. The family received $450,000 paying all Grant’s creditors, and left a legacy to his family.