Ulysses S Grant, born Hiram Ulysses Grant, was an American Civil War general on the Union side, and later became the 18th president of the United States, serving from 1869 to 1877. He was the leading Union general during the Civil War. In fact, he was one of the few good generals the Union had, as most of the West Point graduates were born in the South and served in the Confederate army out of loyalty to their home states.
Grant first reached national prominence by taking Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in 1862. These were the first Union victories of the Civil War. A year later, he led a campaign that culminated in the surrender of Vicksburg, and Union control of Mississippi. That, and the Union victory at Gettysburg, turned the tide of the war in the Union’s favor.
Grant was given command of all the Federal armies in 1864. He relied on a coordinated strategy of simultaneous attacks, which were designed to destroy the south’s ability to wage war. After a costly war of attrition in the east, he accepted Robert E Lee’s surrender at the Appomattox Court House. Grant was, according to many historians, the greatest historian of his age, and one of the greatest strategists of any age. The Vicksburg campaign is scrutinized by military specialists worldwide.
In 1868, Grant ran for president as a Republican and was elected. He was the first president to serve two full terms since Andrew Jackson forty years earlier. He led Radical Reconstruction and also built a powerful Republican party in the south, through deft use of the army. He was a hard-liner and reduced violence by groups like the Ku Klux Klan. He is poorly regarded by historians as a president mainly due to his tolerance for corruption. His reputation has improved somewhat because of his support for civil rights.