Ulysses S. Grant: The American Presidents Series: The 18th President, 1869-1877

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Was he a drunk? Sometimes, but he also had some bad press. Was he a butcher? Sometimes, but for good reason - he wanted to end the civil war. Did he preside over a scandal ridden adminstration? Somewhat, but government was under the spoils system back then and worked differently than it does now. Bunting's Grant is If we are in a new Gilded Age, then it may be time for us all to revisit the administration of Ulysses S. Bunting's Grant is a capable, brave general who won the Civil War and wanted to win Reconstruction as well, or the war would have been fought in vain.

Grant's fairer treatment of Native Americans than previous or subsquent administrations is also a plus in Grant's favor, which Bunting points out has been ignored in our history. Still, in the end Grant could move armies but not his friends and colleagues. Feb 09, Janet rated it really liked it. Bunting hits the highlights with elegant prose. Aug 08, Steven Peterson rated it really liked it. Grant born Hiram Ulysses Grant, but there's a story there, as summarized in this work was to ascend to the highest ranks in the hearts of his countrymen--from commanding general of the Union forces to President of the United States.

His rise to such positions seemed most unlikely to those who knew him in the years after the Mexican War. He grew up in Ohio and, through happenstance, ended up at West Point.

Ulysses S. Grant

He completed his studies, ranking in the middle of the pack in his class. He w Ulysses S. He was noteworthy for his skills as a horseman and for his mathematical ability. His performance in the Mexican War was very strong. In the process of his tour of duty, he served under both Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott, and learned considerably about what makes a general. Thereafter, he had a series of postings leaving him isolated and sometimes "on the bottle," where he developed a reputation as a drunk. As the Civil War opened, while he was working in the family store in Galena, Illinois, he served as an officer as civilian military units were formed.

After that, his meteoric rise in the Army--from regiment command to commanding general of all Union forces. In between, he displayed the ability to win battles that often led other generals to retreat. In the process, Americans had come to respect him as the war closed. The book chronicles his disagreements with Andrew Johnson's policies after Lincoln's assassination. Then, in , Grant was nominated by the Republicans for president.

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This book takes a hard look at his presidency--the good, the bad, and the ugly. There were some important contributions--despite faltering, he did try to support the newly won rights of former slaves; he also supported humane treatment of Indians even against the wishes of his top lieutenants--William Sherman and Phil Sheridan.

But his economic policy contributed to the Panic that engulfed his second administration. His blind eye toward corruption of some of his colleagues does him no honor in history. There were also some foreign policy successes, to round out the picture. And, his final years, in which he courageously tried to provide for his families' economic security. All in all, another good entry in this series of brief biographies pages of text, with a useful chronology following the text. As always, if one wishes a quick and accessible view of this American president, this book will do nicely.

And, even though this book is brief, the author pouts Grant's performance as president in a nice context. Feb 14, Andrew rated it really liked it Shelves: It is 'common knowledge' that US Grant had one of the most corrupt presidencies in United States history. Bunting suggests that the common knowledge is wrong on the back cover of his biography, and makes a strong case as to why a generation of historians has misunderstood Grant. This book describes US Grant as a man who understood what needed to be done and simply did it. His father wanted him to go to West Point so he went and did the best he could, even if it wasn't remarkable.

In the Civil War, Grant understood the strengths of his army and pushed on instead of being overly cautious as other Generals were. As President, an office that Grant did not seek but was asked to fill, he simply trusted the men around him and tried to do the right things. Grant was a big supporter of newly freed slaves and Indians. He sent the army into the south on several occasions to make certain blacks could exercise their new right to vote without persecution. He also removed men from positions in the West that allowed them to exploit the Indians, replacing them with military men who would treat them better, if not perfectly.

The most interesting part of the book came when many corruptions were detailed out and shown to be mishandled by Grant, but with little evidence of conspiracy on his part. Grant is guilty of being too trusting to men he appointed and, at times, not acting decisively enough to counter scandals, but no more. Overall I felt the book was excellent and unbiased. I would have perhaps liked a bit more overall information only pages of biography but what is there provided me with insight to Grant and how he helped keep our nation together in one of its darkest hours.

Jun 14, Rick rated it liked it. Three stars for the book; five for Grant as general; three for grant as president; five for Grant as world traveler; five for Grant as writer and author; one for Grant as business man; and last but not least, four for me as reader I don't want to sound arrogant.

Ulysses S. Grant by Josiah Bunting

Nov 07, Doreen Petersen rated it it was amazing Shelves: While many people have a variety of opinions concerning Grant as president, some saying he was one of the worst and some saying he was one of the best I think the truth lies somewhere in-between. A very interesting read that I would recommend. May 25, Corey rated it really liked it. Learned a lot about Grant's life and presidency and historically labeled an alcoholic when often it was people around him undermining him or sabotaging him. He did not campaign at all for President yet won two elections.

He went on a tour of the world after his Presidency for nearly two years. The election after his terms neither candidate received Learned a lot about Grant's life and presidency and historically labeled an alcoholic when often it was people around him undermining him or sabotaging him. The election after his terms neither candidate received an Electoral majority and Hayes won the election decided by a committee in the Senate that gave him the necessary electoral votes.


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Garfield won the next election and was shot a few months into his term. Grant wrote his memoirs his last year of his life giving an account of military service and his Presidency -- he was a short man and very reserved underspoken and never sought attention but became the juggernaut that Lincoln sought to fight battles.

He definitely sacrificed a lot of lives knowing he had superior numbers when he went into battle. Nov 14, Fred Kohn rated it liked it Shelves: This book is unique in this series thus far in my reading in that it spends more time on Grant the non-president than on Grant the president. This is not totally surprising, since the time Grant spent during the Johnson presidency, his time after his presidency, and of course his time as a Union general are all very significant and need to be discussed.

I did come away from the book wishing that his presidency had been covered in more depth. May 31, David Clayton rated it really liked it. I have always been a fan of President Grant mostly due to watching the Wild, Wild West as a kid whereas it takes place during his administration. After reading this fine account of his life I realize that he was a true humanitarian and never received the credit he deserved as a General and President during this difficult and trying period in US history.

A nice piece of work in the President series. Jul 02, Tom rated it it was amazing. Very enjoyable and enlightening read. If you have any interest in American history this book should be on your reading list. Nov 11, Susan Newark rated it liked it. Amazing that such a renowned Civil War hero had so many character flaws Nov 20, Robin Friedman rated it really liked it.

A New Look At President Grant The short volumes in the American Presidents series offer an outstanding way for readers to get reacquainted with American history and with our Nation's leaders.

Each volume is written by a scholar who brings his or her own perspective to the subject, focusing on the factors that make the president in question worth knowing and remembering. Grant -- who s A New Look At President Grant The short volumes in the American Presidents series offer an outstanding way for readers to get reacquainted with American history and with our Nation's leaders.

Grant -- who served as the eighteenth president of the United States -- Bunting is a former army officer who served as the superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute for many years. He offers a reappraisal of the Grant presidency in this volume, in company with some other contemporary scholarly reassessments.

As Bunting emphasizes, Grant has suffered from cliches both as General and as President. He is frequently castigated as a "drunk" Grant did indeed have problems with alcohol early in his career and as a "butcher", in spite of the extraordinary strategic skill he displayed in the Vicksburg campaign, at Fort Donelson, in crossing the James River en route to Petersburg, and elsewhere and in spite of the relatively low casualty rates, overall, of the armies under his command.

In his presidency, Grant is often found at the bottom of the various rankings, primarily due to the corruption that ensued during his administration. Bunting's book offers a brief portrait of Grant's early life and a good brief summary of his accomplishments during the Civil War. He also offers a brisk account of Grant's activities during the four years between Appomattox and Grant's own election to the presidency, focusing on his increasingly strained relationship with Andrew Johnson and his eventual rejection of Johnson's lenient policy of Reconstruction.

This pivotal period of Grant's career is frequently overlooked. But the focus of the book is on Grant's presidency. Bunting properly points out that with the exception of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, no person faced greater challenges than did Grant in assuming the executive office. The country was seriously divided over Reconstruction, with the seemingly intractable goals of restoring the Union on the one hand and protecting the rights of African Americans on the other hand.

Bunting praises Grant for the efforts he made to protect the rights of the freed people. With substantial justification, Bunting says that Grant's efforts were the strongest made by an American president until the midth Century. Bunting also praises Grant for pursuing a relatively humane policy towards the Indians, for his courageous veto of inflationary paper money legislation in , and for his calm and principled stance during the Hayes-Tilden controversy in the presidential election of Bunting does not overlook Grant's deficiencies as president, but I think he tends to downplay them.

He acknowledges a substantial degree of moral obtuseness in Grant, if not personal culpability, in the manner in which the President responded to the scandals which plagued his administration.


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Grant showed a high degree of cronyism while in office and a tendency, derived from his success as a general, to be peremptory in has actions and judgments. On several occasions, Grant's policies and inactions led to economic difficulties, including the severe depression of Even in the area of Reconstruction and civil rights, Grant frequently compromised his efforts due to political considerations.

And he was aware that the military presence in the South and the agressive Federal efforts to protect the rights of the freed people would need to end, due to lack of support in the nation, if not during his administration, then in the administration of his successor. Grant remained a revered figure during his lifetime. He probably could have been elected to a third term in , had he wished, and he narrowly missed a renomination for president in Grant's Memoirs of his Civil War and Mexican War experiences, which he wrote towards the end of his life, is a classic of American literature.

I think historians will debate the extent to which Bunting's work, and similar studies, serve to rehabilitate the presidency of Grant. But clearly, Bunting offers a fresh and thoughtful approach which will serve to modify the stereotypes that many informed Americans carry about him. Bunting's book offers a good introduction to a great, if enigmatic, American and to his difficult presidency.

Mar 03, Zach Koenig rated it it was amazing. Bunting just truly believes that Grant was a great man, an almost-great President, and thus makes a compelling argument for that philosophy.

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One thing that makes this book stand out is its overall structure. While some books focus too much on the "early stuff" and not as much on the Presidency, this one gets the balance right. Overall, this is a very good place to start for amateur U. Grant historians or just those interested in Presidents. Aug 21, Tom rated it it was amazing Shelves: I've read a number of the Presidents series books and while informative they see to fall short of being really good.

Bunting's job with Grant, however, hit the mark. Short but full of facts within context. Grant is routinely described in glowing terms-the man who turned the tide of the Civil War, who accepted Lee's surrender at Appomattox, and who had the stomach to see the war through to final victory.

But his presidency is another matter-the most common word used to characterize it is "scandal. But that caricature does not do justice to the realities of Grant's term in office, as Josiah Bunting III shows in this provocative assessment of our eighteenth president. Grant came to Washington in to lead a capital and a country still bitterly divided by four years of civil war. His predecessor, Andrew Johnson, had been impeached and nearly driven from office, and the radical Republicans in Congress were intent on imposing harsh conditions on the Southern states before allowing them back into the Union.

Grant made it his priority to forge the states into a single nation, and Bunting shows that despite the troubles that characterized Grant's terms in office, he was able to accomplish this most important task-very often through the skillful use of his own popularity with the American people.

American Presidents - Ulysses S. Grant 18th US President

Grant was indeed a military man of the highest order, and he was a better president than he is often given credit for. This is a relatively weak entry in this series. The author is a military man who is far too interested in analyzing Grant's generalship; in a short-format series such as this, one needs to cut to the Grant possessed that rarest quality among American presidents: As a military strategist he possessed quiet compassion, firm judgment and humanity.