Hiram Ulysses Grant was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio, on April 27, 1822, the son of a tanner, Jesse Root Grant, and Hannah Simpson Grant. Grant worked on the family farm and attended local schools until his appointment in 1839 to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. (The young cadet was erroneously registered as "U.S. Grant"—a change that Grant would adopt for the rest of his life.)
Commissioned second lieutenant in the Fourth Infantry Regiment, Grant served in the Mexican War (1846-48) under Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott. Having resigned the army in 1854, Grant spent the next six years farming and undertaking various unsuccessful business ventures.
After the outbreak of the Civil War, the governor of Illinois appointed Grant colonel of a militia regiment in June 1861; two months later he was promoted to brigadier general. Placed in command of the District of Southeast Missouri, with headquarters in Cairo, Illinois, Grant led the expedition that captured Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, and a Confederate force of some 15,000 in February 1862. Promoted to major general of volunteers, Grant led the Union forces at Shiloh in April 1862 and at Vicksburg the following year; with the fall of Vicksburg (July 1863), Grant was made a major general in the regular army. After leading the victories in November at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, Grant was promoted to lieutenant general with command of all the armies of the United States in March 1864. In May, Grant launched the final campaign, sending General Sherman toward Atlanta and directing the Army of the Potomac against General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. The grueling war of attrition that followed wore the Confederates down, and Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865.
Grant was elected president of the United States in 1868 and reelected in 1872. Though scrupulously honest himself, Grant's administration was marked by widespread corruption and serious scandals. On retiring from office in 1877, he made a world tour on which he was hailed as a hero. Encouraged by his friend Mark Twain, Grant began preparing his memoirs in 1884. The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant were completed just a few days before his death on July 23, 1885.
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