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Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) served as commander in chief of the Union army during the Civil War, leading the North to victory over the Confederacy. Grant later became the eighteenth President of the United States, serving from 1869-77. After fighting in the Mexican-American War, Grant left the army, only to rejoin at the outbreak of the Civil War. His victories at Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Vicksburg and Chattanooga convinced Lincoln to promote him to head all Union armies. After a bloody campaign in Virginia, Grant accepted Confederate General Robert E. Lee's surrender on 9 April 1865. Grant's subsequent presidency was mired in corruption, and he became caught up in several political scandals.

At the time of the Mexican-American War, Grant was just a junior officer. Years later, he reflected back on the war as "one of the most unjust...ever waged by a stronger nation against a weaker nation," an act more reminiscent of "European monarchies" than a democratic republic. Grant served in one of the two infantry regiments removed to the western border of Louisiana in May 1844. He wrote that though they were never explicitly told so, they all knew that they were there because of the "prospective annexation of Texas." Technically, the forces were "to prevent filibustering (an armed expedition of Americans) into Texas," but Grant thought it was "really as a menace to Mexico in case she appeared to contemplate war." Although Grant claimed that the other officers "were indifferent whether the annexation was consummated or not," Grant himself "was bitterly opposed to the measure."

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