Ulysses Grant’s legacy became complicated in the first 200 years of life

Ulysses Grant’s legacy isn’t that complicated 200 years after his birth.

Grant has become tattered Slave-owned south He surrendered as President Abraham Lincoln’s Supreme Allied General, but he owned at least one slave before the war.

A Native American man was one of Grant’s best friends, and Grant had sympathy for the indigenous people, but he had white settlers overtake their land as president.

Grant, a relentless attacker on the battlefield, was unable to prevent the corruption of his own government.

Grant’s life, once widely seen as a butcher on the battlefield and a drunkard, has been re-evaluated in recent years. Grant is now considered by some to be America’s first civil rights president and a troubled leader who has done his best to protect liberated slaves. Reconstruction After the Civil War.

“In the current memory war, they are angry. Historian Joan Waugh said that Ulysses S. Grant was the general who saved the coalition and defended civil rights,” the United States was together. ” , “American Grants: American Heroes, American Myths”.

However, Grant also sought to expel the Jews from the Southern Military District he supervised in an unfortunate attempt to crack down on illegal cotton trade. And he supported a policy of “assimilating” Native Americans into white culture rather than maintaining their own traditions.

Edna, a professor of history at the Historically Black College, said that it is difficult to judge grants based on today’s norms, as Lincoln, who does not consider blacks to be exactly equivalent to whites but has declared emancipation proclamation. Green Medford said.

“These were 19th-century men who were more progressive than the average man during that period, but still suffer from some very basic problems,” Medford said.

Medford and War’s comments were made at a symposium last month to begin a series of events commemorating Grant’s 200th anniversary on April 27, 1822. It was held at the Grant Presidential Library in the Mississippi scene.Grant’s epic, war-changing victory Vixberg..

Other 200-year-old events include a weekend life history at the Grant Historic Site in St. Louis, where he lived before the war.Grant’s birthday party Clermont County, Ohio, Where he was born. Ceremony at Grant’s Tomb on the Hudson River in New York.

After participating in the Mexican-American War and failing to do business many times, Grant returned to the US Army and became Commander-in-Chief, a general who highly valued Lincoln’s aggression. Grant was elected President of the Republican Party in 1868, three years after Lincoln, in the first of two terms. assassination And the end of the war. He died in New York in 1885.

Grant’s reassessment, which began over 20 years ago, gained momentum as the country worked. Statues and monuments Built by the descendants of the Southern Army who tried to portray the leaders of the South as noble after the Civil War, the cause of the war was portrayed as something other than slavery.

Grant was widely respected at the time of this death and is depicted on the $ 50 bill, “Cause of loss” The historical version reinforces the view that Grant sent troops to indiscriminately slaughter in a war that claimed the lives of 620,000 people and was a dull heavy drinker.Grant’s status has risen as follows: South Army statue Historian Anne E. Marshall said.

Marshall, Ulysses Grants Association and Grant’s Managing Director, said: Presidential library At Mississippi State University.

As the country’s values ​​change, other parts of Grant’s life are getting more attention, Marshall said. This includes his work to guarantee the citizenship and voting rights of liberated slaves and the fight against the Ku Klux Klan, who murderously imposed white rule in the South after the Civil War. ..

At the time, it was considered a moral failure, but so is Grant’s fight against what is now perceived as an illness, which is likely to be alcoholism. Ron Chernow’s 2017 best-selling biography, “forgive,” Grant elaborated on how he largely overcame alcoholism, which could upset his early military career.

“I think now, at many different levels, people are willing to rethink these things,” Marshall said.

Still, Grant does not pass other annoying parts of his record, including his relationship with his own slavery.

Grant’s father was an abolitionist, and the general became aware of the need to eliminate people’s ownership throughout the war. Still, he was also the last slave-owned president. Grant bought a man named William Jones from his father-in-law and released Jones two years before the war. He has been given some credit for giving Jones freedom, not selling Jones, especially since Grant was almost broken at the time.

Nonetheless, Grant says it doesn’t deserve a second chance, given how he benefited from enslavement, Native American treatment, or his orders to ban Jews from parts of the South. There are also people. Some have proposed removing Grant’s tomb from the Hudson River in Manhattan for wartime order, but it was later canceled by Lincoln.San Francisco protesters Grant monument In 2020.

Like Lincoln, Grant was worried about whether uneducated black men should be allowed to vote during bondage — women didn’t vote. Suffrage At that time — and in today’s cultural climate, it’s difficult to judge his view, Medford said at the symposium.

However, Grant was credited with the Civil Rights Act of 1875 and upheld the Fifteenth Amendment, which outlawed the use of race and past enslavement as a disqualification of the vote.

Despite the policy of “civilizing” Native Americans and the ongoing Indian Wars of that era, Grant appointed Native American aides, Erie Parker, to lead the Indian Bureau. He opposed the complete eradication of the tribes and deployed troops to protect the invaders, even if they moved white settlers to indigenous lands despite the treaty.

Medford said there was a difficult “cut” between the 1800s and 2022 when it came to grants.

“But I think we always have to remember the times,” she said.


Reeves is a member of AP’s racial and ethnic team.