Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant
|Ulysses S. Grant|
|18th President of the United States|
March 4, 1869 – March 4, 1877
|Vice President||Schuyler Colfax (1869–1873)
Henry Wilson (1873–1875)
|Preceded by||Andrew Johnson|
|Succeeded by||Rutherford B. Hayes|
|Born||Hiram Ulysses Grant
April 27, 1822
Point Pleasant, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||July 23, 1885
Mount McGregor, New York, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Julia Dent Grant|
|Children||Jesse Grant, Ulysses S. Grant, Jr., Nellie Grant, Frederick Grant|
|Alma mater||U.S. Military Academy at West Point|
|Nickname(s)||"Unconditional Surrender" Grant|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1839–1854, 1861–1869|
|Rank||General of the Army of the United States|
|This article is part of a series on
Ulysses S. Grant
The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant began during the turbulent Reconstruction period following the American Civil War. Grant was elected the 18th President of the United States in 1868 and was re-elected to the office in 1872, serving from March 4, 1869, to March 4, 1877. Grant was a Republican, and his main supporters were the Radical and Stalwart factions. The United States was at peace with the world throughout the era, and was prosperous until the Panic of 1873, a severe national depression, that dominated Grant's second term. Grant bolstered the Executive Branch's enforcement powers by signing into law the Department of Justice and Office of Solicitor General that was implemented to protect the civil rights of African Americans. Grant expanded federal authority that protected African American civil rights against domestic terrorism in the South. Grant's presidency represented the Civil War values that included "union, freedom and equality." Grant's Reconstruction policy, however, was challenged by the complexities of using the U.S. Army to impose democracy and legal equality regardless of the resistance of Democrats in the South. Grant worked hard to ensure the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment that gave black men the right to vote. Grant's notable efforts as President included civil rights, civil service reform, and Indian policy. Grant's foreign policy under Hamilton Fish was successful and improved Anglo-American relations.
Grant was opposed by the Liberal faction of the Republican Party, many of them founding fathers of the GOP, who denounced Grant for violating the party's emphasis on fighting corruption. The Liberals insisted that Reconstruction had been successful, that slavery and secessionism were dead. Liberals demanded that Army troops should be withdrawn from the South so that normal political life could resume. The Liberals nominated long-time Republican spokesman Horace Greeley in 1872, depriving Grant of the intellectual base of the Republican Party. Greely was quietly supported by the Democrats, but was decisively defeated by Grant. Rather than develop a cadre of trustworthy political advisers, Grant was overconfident in choosing his Cabinet; he relied heavily on former Army associates who had a thin understanding of politics and a weak sense of civilian ethics. His presidential reputation was severely damaged by repeated scandals and frauds.
Having struggled to be a self-made man, Grant was extremely loyal to himself and his family, while trusting of close military associates that in turn caused dissension among reformers whom he believed were plotting to overthrow his presidency. Grant dismissed three Cabinet members without notice or explanation. Two of his Cabinet secretaries (War and Navy), his personal secretary, and high officials he named to the Treasury department joined federal bribery or tax-evasion syndicates. Corruption charges were rampant in the Department of the Interior in 1874, until Grant appointed a reformer. Grant often defended the culprits, rather than the integrity of government service, while he attacked their accusers. Middle-class public opinion, a key element in the Republican Party base, turned hostile to Grant. Some scholars, however, maintain that corruption charges were exaggerated during the Grant administration, and that Grant implemented civil service reform and ended the moiety system.
Grant played a role in thwarting the Gold Ring in 1869 and the prosecution of the Whiskey Ring in 1875. His Attorney General Edwards Pierrepont and Postmaster General John A. J. Creswell made sweeping reforms in their respected departments, and several of Grant's Cabinet initiated civil service in their own departments. After a false start with weak selections, Grant named to his Cabinet leading reformers including Hamilton Fish, Benjamin Bristow, Alphonso Taft, and Amos T. Akerman. Fish, as Secretary of State, negotiated the Treaty of Washington and was successful at keeping the United States out of trouble with Britain and Spain. Bristow, as Secretary of Treasury, ended the corruption of the Whiskey Ring where distillers and corrupt officials made millions from tax evasion. Taft, a brilliant jurist as Attorney General, successfully negotiated for bipartisan panel to peacefully settle the controversial Election of 1876. Grant and Attorney General Akerman enforced civil rights legislation that protected African Americans and destroyed the Ku Klux Klan. Grant encouraged peaceful Congressional negotiations after the controversial Election of 1876; signed the Electoral Commission Act of 1877; while the Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction.[note 1]
Economically, Grant was a conservative who favored a hard-money, gold-based, anti-inflationary policy that entailed paying off the large national debt with gold. He reduced governmental spending, decreased the federal work force, and reduced the national debt, while tax revenues increased in the Treasury Department. During his second term in office, the Panic of 1873, caused by rampant railroad speculation, shook the nation's financial institutions; banks failed, prices fell, and unemployment surged. Before the Panic there had been eight years of tremendous industrial growth after the Civil War that fueled lavish money making schemes, personal greed, and national corruption. President Grant's contraction of money supply worsened the panic; the ensuing major U.S. depression that followed lasted for five years causing massive economic damage to the country. The Panic wiped out both the fortunes of business and corruption. Southern Reconstruction continued that included escalated sectional violence over the status of freedmen and fractured state party alliances and elections.
With the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, the West was wide open to expansionism that sometimes was challenged by hostile Native Americans. Grant implemented an innovative peace policy, though not always successful, with Native Americans. Hostilities took place with the Modoc War, the Red River War, and the Great Sioux War that culminated with the famous Battle of Little Bighorn where Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer was killed. In 1874, millions of buffalo were being slaughtered to make room for settlers and ranchers. Grant, who favored ranchers land use for domestic cattle, rejected legislation that would have limited the slaughter of the bison. After the fatal Modoc peace commission in 1873, Grant's Native American policy incorporated the military strategies favored by William T. Sherman and Phil Sheridan. Grant gave legislative support to the early suffragette movement. Corruption was rampant in the Department of Indian Affairs under Secretary of Interior Columbus Delano. However, Grant and Secretary Delano did have success in the establishment of America's first national park, Yellowstone, and the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. The Interior Department corruption was cleaned up by Grant's Secretary Zachariah Chandler in 1875. Grant's presidential legacy has suffered due to his heavy-handed use of the U.S. Army to prop up his political allies in southern states. However, since the mid-1990s his presidential reputation has improved as historians emphasize his enforcement of African American civil rights in the South and his Peace policy towards Indians.
- 1 Presidency 1869–1877
- 2 Election of 1868
- 3 First Term 1869–1873
- 3.1 Cabinet
- 3.2 Modified Tenure of Office Act
- 3.3 Political defections
- 3.4 Reconstruction and civil rights
- 3.5 Indian affairs and human rights
- 3.6 Early suffragette movement
- 3.7 Economy and Treasury reform
- 3.8 Yellowstone, buffalo, and conservation
- 3.9 Foreign policies
- 4 Corruption and reform (1869-1873)
- 5 Election of 1872
- 6 Second Term 1873–1877
- 6.1 Reconstruction
- 6.2 Indian affairs
- 6.3 Visited Colorado Territory
- 6.4 Civil rights
- 6.5 Secular education
- 6.6 Panic of 1873
- 6.7 Economy
- 6.8 Foreign Policy
- 7 Corruption and reform (1873-1877)
- 8 Reforming cabinet members
- 9 Election of 1876
- 10 Judicial appointments
- 11 Administration and Cabinet
- 12 Presidential reputation
- 13 Civil rights record
- 14 See also
- 15 Notes
- 16 References
- 17 Sources
- 18 Further reading
- 19 External links
Grant's presidency has traditionally been viewed by historians as incompetent and full of corruption. An examination of his presidency reveals Grant had both successes and failures during his two terms in office. In recent years historians have elevated his presidential rating because of his support for African American civil rights. He leaned heavily toward the Radical camp and often sided with their Reconstruction policies, signing into law Force Acts to prosecute the Ku Klux Klan. In foreign policy Grant won praise for the Treaty of Washington, settling the Alabama Claims issue with Britain through arbitration. Economically he sided with Eastern bankers and signed the Public Credit Act that paid U.S. debts in gold specie, but was blamed for the severe economic depression that lasted 1873–1877. Grant, wary of powerful congressional leaders, was the first President to ask for a line item veto.
In the century after he left office most historians denounced the Reconstruction policies followed by Grant. More recently, Grant's support for and enforcement of African Americans civil rights has earned him praise from scholars. While graft and corruption existed in the Southern state governments he supported with the Army, many civil rights advances were made for African Americans. He was vigorous in his enforcement of the 14th and 15th amendments and prosecuted thousands of persons who violated African American civil rights; he used military force to put down political insurrections in Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina.
The depression of 1873, along with the increasingly unpopular Reconstruction program, weakened his reputation and his party, allowing the resurgent Democrats to gain a majority in the House of Representatives in 1875. His Presidency was inundated with many scandals caused by low standards and carelessness with his political appointees and personal associates. Nepotism, practiced by Grant, was unrestrained with almost forty family members or relatives who financially benefited from government appointments or employment.
Grant and Sumner were often at odds with each other on matters of foreign policy and political patronage. Sumner followed his own foreign policy and detested Grant's practice of nepotism in making political appointments. One historian, Mary L. Hinsdale, described the Grant Administration as "a most extraordinary array of departures from the normal course" and a "military" rule, in close connection with a select Republican Senatorial group. In an unsuccessful effort to annex the island country of Santo Domingo, Grant bypassed the State Department by sending his military associate Orville E. Babcock to produce the treaty. Grant disregarded the opinion of Attorney General Ebenezer R. Hoar over the McGarrahan mining claim patents.
Grant's foreign policy was heavily influenced by the able Secretary of State Hamilton Fish. Grant depended on Fish's advice on domestic issues such as money policy and Reconstruction. His Secretary of Treasury, George Boutwell, was given full charge of national economic policies. In 1874, Grant began a series of appointments that included reformers and qualified statesmen to his Administration, starting with Benjamin Bristow who prosecuted the Whiskey Ring. With the departure of Orville E. Babcock and William W. Belknap from the White House in 1876, the Grant Administration took on a civilian rather than "military" style.
Election of 1868
There were two main divisive issues in 1868. The first was the continued Reconstruction of the South. The Democrats advocated allowing former Confederate soldiers to hold elective offices, and the Republicans endorsed the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution which allowed African Americans to vote. The other controversial issue concerned the redemption of war bonds either in gold or paper money known as greenbacks. The Democrats wanted to redeem the bonds with $100,000,000 in greenbacks and the rest with gold. The greenbacks were known as "cheap money" and would be inflationary. The Republicans wanted to pay the redemption of war bonds only with gold, a position attractive to investors and bankers.
Finding a popular hero who endorsed their Reconstruction policies, the Republicans nominated Grant and Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax. The Democrats, ignoring politically damaged President Andrew Johnson (who was a political independent), nominated Horatio Seymour – former governor of New York – and Francis P. Blair from Missouri. Seymour was a wealthy conservative who came under GOP attack for weakness during the war and favoring the anti-war Copperheads. The campaigning was nasty, as the Republicans waved the "bloody shirt" of treason against the Democrats-as-Copperheads. Grant himself never campaigned, except for his slogan "Let us have peace" and his apology to Jewish voters for his 1862 General Order No. 11 that banned Jewish merchants from his zone during the Civil War because of alleged profiteering. Grant won with 52.7% of the popular vote and won by a landslide in the Electoral College with 214 votes to Seymour's 80 votes. Grant was helped by the fact that six southern states were controlled by Radical Republicans who kept many ex-Confederates from voting.
First Term 1869–1873
Grant took an unorthodox approach to his cabinet choices, declining to consult with the Senate and keeping his choices secret until he submitted them for confirmation.  Grant purposely avoided choosing Republican Party leaders in an effort to create national harmony. Out of personal loyalty, Grant appointed his friends Elihu B. Washburne to the State Department and John A. Rawlins as Secretary of War. Washburne served only twelve days before resigning over claims of ill-health; the plan was designed to give him greater diplomatic clout when Grant appointed him Minister to France. Grant then appointed Hamilton Fish, a conservative New York statesman, as Secretary of State. Fish would be Grant's most successful appointment. His relationship with Fish grew out of a strong friendship between the two men's wives. Rawlins later died of tuberculosis and was replaced by William W. Belknap. Grant selected several non-politicians to his cabinet, including Adolph E. Borie and A.T. Stewart, with limited success. Borie served briefly as Secretary of Navy, replaced by George M. Robeson, while Stewart was lawfully prevented from becoming Secretary of Treasury by a 1789 statute and by Senator Charles Sumner's and Senator Roscoe Conkling's opposition to amend the law. In place of Stewart, Grant appointed George S. Boutwell, known for his integrity, as Secretary of Treasury. Grant's other cabinet appointments—Jacob D. Cox (Interior), John Creswell (Postmaster General), and Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar (Attorney General)—were well-received and uncontroversial. Some of Grant's cabinet members did not even know their names were offered to the Senate for confirmation. Grant's independent, at times problematic, manner in choosing his cabinet started a rift between Republican party veterans who were denied consultation.
Modified Tenure of Office Act
In March 1869, President Grant made it known he desired the Tenure of Office Act repealed, stating it was a "stride toward a revolution in our free system". The Tenure of Office Act was passed by Congress in 1867, sponsored by Radical Republicans, to curb the power of the President Andrew Johnson in making government office appointments. The controversial law had been invoked during the impeachment trial of Johnson in 1868. On March 5, 1869, a bill was brought before Congress to repeal the act, but Senator Charles Sumner was opposed, unwilling to give Grant a free hand in making appointments. Grant, to bolster the repeal effort, declined to make any new appointments except for vacancies, until the law was overturned, thus, agitating political office seekers to pressure Congress to repeal the law. Under national pressure for governmental reform, a compromise was reached and a new bill was passed that allowed the President to have complete control over removing his own cabinet, however, government appointees needed the approval of Congress within a thirty-day period. Grant, who did not desire a party split over the matter, signed the bill; afterwards, he received criticism for not getting a full repeal of the law. The unpopular measure was completely repealed in 1887. Grant was criticized for appointing many family members considered unqualified to highly sought government posts, a practice known as nepotism.
Initially, President Grant was popular among many political and newspaper elite. Political defections began as early as the spring and fall of 1869 when both Charles A. Dana and Henry Adams became critical and discouraged over Grant's Presidency in the aftermath of the Black Friday scandal. By 1870, Horace Greeley lost enthusiasm for the Administration with the resignations of Attorney General Ebenezer R. Hoar and Ambassador to Britain John L. Motley. Prominent journalists Samuel Bowles, Horace White, E. L. Godkin, and William C. Bryant became concerned over alleged incompetence and lack of national direction from Grant. Personal animosity remained between Charles Sumner and Grant over the Senate rejection of the Santo Domingo Treaty. The common citizen, however, revered Grant for his gallant service in the Civil War.
Reconstruction and civil rights
During Reconstruction, Freedmen (freed slaves), were given the vote by Congress and became active in state politics; fourteen were elected to Congress. In state government they were never governor but did become lieutenant governors or secretaries of state. They formed the voting base of the Republican party along with some local whites (called "Scalawags") and new arrivals from the North (called "Carpetbaggers".) Most Southern whites opposed the Republicans; they called themselves "Conservatives" or "Redeemers". Grant repeatedly took a role in state affairs; for example on December 24, 1869, he established federal military rule in Georgia and restored black legislators who had been expelled from the state legislature.
Most historians in the 21st century consider Reconstruction to be a failure. However, historian Mark Summers in 2014 has argued that:
- if we see Reconstruction's purpose as making sure that the main goals of the war would be filled, of a Union held together forever, of a North and South able to work together, of slavery extirpated, and sectional rivalries confined, of a permanent banishment of the fear of vaunting appeals to state sovereignty, backed by armed force, then Reconstruction looks like what in that respect it was, a lasting and unappreciated success.
According to biographer, William S. McFeely, Grant and many in the north believed the American Civil War extended democracy to the African American freedmen. Grant used political pressure to ensure the states ratified the Fifteenth Amendment, guaranteeing that "no citizen can be denied the right to vote based upon race, color, or previous condition of servitude". When it passed he hailed it as "a measure of grander importance than any other one act of the kind from the foundation of our free government to the present day". Many in the south, however, were determined that the African American males' right to vote would be unenforcable.
Department of Justice
On June 22, 1872, Grant signed a bill into law passed by Congress that created the Department of Justice and to aid the Attorney General, the Office of Solicitor General. Grant appointed Amos T. Akerman as Attorney General and Benjamin H. Bristow as America's first Solicitor General. Both Akerman and Bristow used the Department of Justice to vigorously prosecute Ku Klux Klan members in the early 1870s. In the first few years of Grant's first term in office there were 1000 indictments against Klan members with over 550 convictions from the Department of Justice. By 1871, there were 3000 indictments and 600 convictions with most only serving brief sentences while the ringleaders were imprisoned for up to five years in the federal penitentiary in Albany, New York. The result was a dramatic decrease in violence in the South. Akerman gave credit to Grant and told a friend that no one was "better" or "stronger" then Grant when it came to prosecuting terrorists. Akerman's successor, George H. Williams, in December 1871, continued to prosecute the Klan throughout 1872 until the Spring of 1873 during Grant's second term in office. William's clemency and moratorium on Klan prosecutions was due in part that the Justice Department, having been inundated by Klan outrage cases, did not have the effective man power to continue the prosecutions.
Naturalization Act of 1870
On July 14, 1870 Grant signed into law the Naturalization Act of 1870 that allowed persons of African descent to become citizens of the United States. This revised an earlier law, the Naturalization Act of 1790 that only allowed white persons of good moral character to become U.S. citizens. The law also prosecuted persons who used fictitious names, misrepresentations, or identities of deceased individuals when applying for citizenship.
Force Acts of 1870 and 1871
To add enforcement to the 15th Amendment, Congress passed an act that guaranteed the protection of voting rights of African Americans; Grant signed the bill, known as the Force Act of 1870 into law on May 31, 1870. This law was designed to keep the Redeemers from attacking or threatening African Americans. This act placed severe penalties on persons who used intimidation, bribery, or physical assault to prevent citizens from voting and placed elections under Federal jurisdiction.
On January 13, 1871 President Grant submitted to Congress a report on violent acts committed by the Ku Klux Klan in the South. On March 20, President Grant told a reluctant Congress the situation in the South was dire and federal legislation was needed that would "secure life, liberty, and property, and the enforcement of law, in all parts of the United States." President Grant stated that the U.S. mail and the collection of revenue was in jeopardy. Congress investigated the Klan's activities and eventually passed the Force Act of 1871 to allow prosecution of the Klan. This Act, also known as the "Ku Klux Klan Act" and written by Representative Benjamin Butler, was passed by Congress to specifically go after local units of the Ku Klux Klan. Although sensitive to charges of establishing a military dictatorship, Grant signed the bill into law on April 20, 1871 after being convinced by Secretary of Treasury, George Boutwell, that federal protection was warranted, having cited documented atrocities against the Freedmen. This law allowed the President to suspend habeas corpus on "armed combinations" and conspiracies by the Klan. The Act also empowered the president "to arrest and break up disguised night marauders". The actions of the Klan were defined as high crimes and acts of rebellion against the United States.
The Ku Klux Klan consisted of local secret organizations formed to violently oppose Republican rule during Reconstruction; there was no organization above the local level. Wearing white hoods to hide their identity the Klan would attack and threaten Republicans. The Klan was strong in South Carolina between 1868 and 1870; South Carolina Governor Robert K. Scott, who was mired in corruption charges, allowed the Klan to rise to power. Grant, who was fed up with their violent tactics, ordered the Ku Klux Klan to disperse from South Carolina and lay down their arms under the authority of the Enforcement Acts on October 12, 1871. There was no response, and so on October 17, 1871, Grant issued a suspension of habeas corpus in all the 9 counties in South Carolina. Grant ordered federal troops in the state who then captured the Klan; who were vigorously prosecuted by Att. Gen. Akerman and Sol. Gen. Bristow. With the Klan destroyed other white supremacist groups would emerge, including the White League and the Red Shirts.
Amnesty Act of 1872
Texas was readmitted into the Union on March 30, 1870, Mississippi was readmitted February 23, 1870, and Virginia on January 26, 1870. Georgia became the last Confederate state to be readmitted into the Union on July 15, 1870. All members for the House of Representatives and Senate were seated from the 10 Confederate states who seceded. Technically, the United States was again a united country.
To ease tensions, Grant signed the Amnesty Act of 1872 on May 23, 1872 that gave amnesty to former Confederates. This act allowed most former Confederates, who before the war had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, to hold elected public office. Only 500 former Confederates remained unpardoned and therefore forbidden to hold elected public office.
Indian affairs and human rights
"Peace Policy" for Indians
Grant's 1868 campaign slogan, "Let us have peace," defined his policy toward reconstructing the South and opening a new era in relations with the western Indian tribes.
In a major address, Grant stated:
- The building of rail-roads and the access thereby given to all the agricultural and mineral regions of the country is rapidly bringing civilized settlements into contact with all the tribes of indians. No matter what ought to be the relations between such settlements and the aborigines, the fact is they do not get on together, and one or the other has to give way in the end. A system which looks to the extinction of a race is too abhorant for a Nation to indulge in without without entailing upon the wrath of all Christendom, and without engendering in the Citizen a disregard for human life, and the rights of others, dangerous to society. I see no remedy for this except in placing all the indians on large reservations...and giving them absolute protection there.
The goal of his "peace policy" was to minimize military conflict with the Indians, looking forward to "any course toward them which tends to their civilization and ultimate citizenship". Indians were to stay on reservations where they would receive government subsidies and training supervised by religious denominations. Indians were no longer allowed to engage in raids or send war parties off the reservations; the Army's job was to force them back. The goal was to assimilate the Indians into American society; any Indian could leave the reservation at any time and join the larger society, and have full citizenship. The Indians on reservations were made U.S. citizens in 1924.
Grant's Peace Policy was a sharp reversal of federal policy toward Native Americans. "Wars of extermination ... are demoralizing and wicked.", he told Congress in his second Inaugural Address of 1873. The president lobbied, though not always successfully, to preserve Native American lands from encroachment by the westward advance of pioneers. The economic forces of western expansionism led to conflicts between Native Americans, settlers, and the U.S. military. Native Americans were increasingly forced to live on reservations.[note 2] Statistical data of the number of Indian wars per year between 1850 and 1890, revealed that battles decreased during Grant's two terms in office from 101 in 1869 to 43 in 1877. In 1875 there were only 15 battles, the lowest rate since 1853 at 13 battles.
In 1869, Grant appointed his aide General Ely S. Parker, a Seneca Indian, as the first Native American Commissioner of Indian Affairs. During Parker's first year in office, the number of Indian Wars per year dropped by 43 from 101 to 58. Chief of the Oglala Sioux Red Cloud wanted to meet President Grant, after learning that Parker was appointed Indian Commissioner. Red Cloud, along with chief of the Brulé Sioux Spotted Tail, came to Washington, D.C. by train and met with Parker and President Grant in 1870. Grant held no personal animosity towards Native Americans and personally treated them with dignity. When Red Cloud and Spotted Tail first met Grant at the White House on May 7, 1870, they were given a bountiful dinner and entertainment equal to what was shown to a young Prince Arthur at a White House visit from Britain in 1869. At their second meeting on May 8, Red Cloud informed Grant that Whites were trespassing on Native American lands and that his people needed food and clothing. Out of concern for Native Americans, Grant ordered all Generals in the West to "keep intruders off by military force if necessary". To prevent Native American hostilities and wars, Grant lobbied for and signed the Indians Appropriations Act of 1870–1871. This act ended the governmental policy of treating tribes as independent sovereign nations. Native Americans would be treated as individuals or wards of the state and Indian policies would be legislated by Congressional statues.
Historians have debated issues of "paternalism" and "colonialism" but have glossed over the significance of contingencies, inconsistencies, and political competition involved in forging a substantive federal policy, according to scholar David Sim (2008). He examined the peace policy, emphasizing incoherence in its formulation and implementation. . While the Grant administration focused on well-meaning but limited goals of placing "good men" in positions of influence and convincing native peoples of their fundamental dependency on the US government, attempts to create a new departure in federal-native relations were characterized by conflict and disagreement. According to Sim, The muddled creation of what has become known as the peace policy thus tells much about the varied and divergent attitudes Americans had toward the consolidation of their empire in the West following the Civil War.
The innovation in Grant's Native American peace policy was in appointing Quakers as US Indian agents to various posts throughout the nation. This destroyed the power of patronage, as Congress would be reluctant to go after church appointments. On April 10, 1869, Congress created the Board of Indian Commissioners. Grant appointed volunteer members who were "eminent for their intelligence and philanthropy"; a previous commission had been set up under the Andrew Johnson Administration in 1868. The Grant Board was given extensive power to supervise the Bureau of Indian Affairs and "civilize" Native Americans. After the Piegan Massacre on January 23, 1870, when Major Edward M. Baker killed 173 tribal members, mostly women and children, Grant was determined to divide Native American post appointments "up among the religious churches"; by 1872, 73 Indian agencies were divided among religious denominations. Quakers or Protestant clergy predominately controlled most of the central and southern Plains Indian territories, while all other surrounding territories were under the control of appointed military officers.
Congressional reaction to the losses suffered by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer's unit at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876 was shock and dismay at the failure of the Peace Policy. Grant blamed Custer wholly for the defeat stating that the sacrifice of troops was unnecessary. The Indian appropriations measure of August 1876 marked the end of Grant's Peace Policy. The Sioux were given the choice of either selling their lands in the Black Hills for cash or not receiving government gifts of food and other supplies. The historian Robert M. Utley (1984) contended that Grant, as a pragmatist, saw no inconsistencies with dividing up Native American posts among religious leaders and military officers. He added that Grant's "Quaker Policy", despite having good intentions, failed to solve the real dilemma of the misunderstandings between "the motivations, purposes, and ways of thinking" between both White and Native American cultures. These inconsistencies were evident in the breakdown of peace negotiations between the U.S. military and the Modoc tribal leaders during the Modoc War from 1872 to 1873.
In 1871, President Grant's Indian peace policy, enforced and coordinated by Brig. Gen. George Stoneman in Arizona, required the Apache to be put on reservations where they would receive supplies and agriculture education. The Apache slipped out and occasionally raided white settlers. In one raid, believed to have been conducted by Apache warriors, settlers and mail runners were murdered near Tuscan, Arizona. The townspeople traced this raid to Apache reservation from Camp Grant. 500 Apache lived at the Camp Grant near Dudleyville. Angered over the murders, the Tuscan townspeople hired 92 Papago Indians, 42 Mexicans, and 6 whites to take revenge on the Apache. When the war party reached Camp Grant on April 30, they murdered 144 Apaches, mostly women and children, in what became known as the Camp Grant Massacre. Twenty-seven captured Apache children were sold into Mexican slavery. In May, an attempt was made by a small federal military party to capture Apache leader Cochise; during the chase they killed 13 Apache. Grant immediately removed Stoneman of his command in Arizona.
Most detrimental to Grant's Peace Policy was rampant corruption in the Department of the Interior under Secretary of Interior Columbus Delano. During Sec. Delano's tenor, federal money intended to supply Native American tribes with food and clothing was skimmed off by corrupt Indian agents and clerks, often allied with traders. In addition, persons posing as "Indian Attorneys" charged Indian tribes money for bogus representation in Washington D.C. After newspapers exposed Delano's delinquency, Grant defended him rather than investigate the matter. Although Sec. Delano supported and defined Grant's Indian peace policy and was instrumental in the creation of the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in 1872, he was not a reformer and was careless in his administration of the Department of the Interior. The previous Grant appointment, Secretary Jacob D. Cox, had run the department with efficiency and merit. Cox had been considered to be one of the best secretaries of Interior in the nation's history. When Cox resigned in 1870, Grant appointed Delano out of patronage considerations to appease Stalwart party bosses. After Sec. Delano finally resigned in 1875, his replacement, Sec. Zachariah Chandler, reformed the Department of the Interior, banned "Indian Attornies", and fired the corrupt clerks working in the Department of Indian Affairs. Grant's Secretary of War, William W. Belknap, who was in charge of all Indian Trading posts under the Department of War, received illicit profit payments from the Fort Sill Indian tradership. Sec. Belknap resigned and was replaced by reformer Alphonso Taft. Belknap was impeached by the House; put on trial in the Senate during the Summer of 1876 and acquitted.
West Point hazing reduced
While President Grant advocated that African Americans enter the West Point Academy, he initially failed in 1870 and 1871 to protect the first African American West Point Academy cadet, James Albert Smith, from racist hazing by other cadets. This lack of protection was influenced by Grant's son, then West Point cadet Frederick Dent Grant, who participated in the hazing against Smith. Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Ruger, however, was appointed Superintendent of West Point in 1871, reformed the Academy; having reduced the amount of hazing of cadets by 1873 and made strong efforts to eradicate the "discreditable" practice. In 1871, other African Americans eventually followed Smith's entrance into West Point and Henry O. Flipper, who was admitted to the Academy in 1873, became the first to graduate from the Academy in 1877. In 1874, Smith was forced out of the Academy due to having failed an unconventional private test, in defiance of traditional West Point practice, administrated by Prof. Peter S. Michie. Smith was finally commissioned an officer by West Point in 1997, one hundred and twenty three years later.
Utah territory polygamy
In 1862, during the American Civil War President Lincoln signed into law the Morrill bill that outlawed polygamy in all U.S. Territories. Mormons who practiced polygamy in Utah for the most part resisted the Morrill law and the territorial governor. During the 1868 election, Grant had mentioned he would enforce the law against polygamy. Tensions began as early as 1870, when Mormons in Ogden, Utah began to arm themselves and practice military drilling. By the Fourth of July, 1871 Mormon militia in Salt Lake City, Utah were on the verge of fighting territorial troops, however, leveler heads prevailed and violence was averted. President Grant, however, who believed Utah was in a state of rebellion was determined to arrest those who practiced polygamy outlawed under the Morrill Act. In October, 1871 hundreds of Mormons were rounded up by U.S. marshals, put in a prison camp, arrested, and put on trial for polygamy. One convicted polygamist received a $500 fine and 3 years in prison under hard labor. On November 20, 1871 Mormon leader Brigham Young, in ill health, had been charged with polygamy. Young's attorney stated that Young had no intention to flee the court. Other persons during the polygamy shut down were charged with murder or intent to kill. The Morrill Act, however, proved hard to enforce since proof of marriage was required for conviction. On December 4, 1871 President Grant stated that polygamists in Utah were "a remnant of barbarism, repugnant to civilization, to decency, and to the laws of the United States."
In March 1873, anti-obscenity moralists, led by the YMCA's Anthony Comstock, easily secured passage of the Comstock Act which made it a federal crime to mail articles "for any indecent or immoral use". Grant signed the bill after he was assured that Comstock would personally enforce it. Comstock went on to become a special agent of the Post Office appointed by Secretary James Cresswell. Comstock prosecuted pornographers, imprisoned abortionists, banned nude art, stopped the mailing of information about contraception, and tried to ban what he considered bad books.
Early suffragette movement
During Grant's presidency the early suffragette movement led by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton gained national attention. Anthony lobbied for female suffrage, equal gender pay, and protection of property for women who resided in Washington D.C. In April 1869, Grant signed into law the protection of married women's property from their husbands' debts and the ability for women to sue in court in Washington D.C. In March 1870 Representative Samuel M. Arnell introduced a bill, coauthored by suffragette Bennette Lockwood, that would give women federal workers equal pay for equal work. Two years later Grant signed a modified Senate version of the Arnell Bill into law. The law required that all federal female clerks would be paid the fully compensated salary, however, lower tiered female clerks were exempted. The law increased women's clerk salaries from 4% to 20% during the 1870s, however, the culture of patronage and patriarchy continued. The Republicans, who needed women to campaign for Grant in the 1872 Presidential Election, added to their platform open discussion of women's rights without actually endorsing women's rights.
Economy and Treasury reform
On taking office Grant's first move was signing the Act to Strengthen the Public Credit, which the Republican Congress had just passed. It ensured that all public debts, particularly war bonds, would be paid only in gold rather than in greenbacks. The price of gold on the New York exchange fell to $130 per ounce – the lowest point since the suspension of specie payment in 1862.
On May 19, 1869, Grant protected the wages of those working for the U.S. Government. In 1868, a law was passed that reduced the government working day to 8 hours; however, much of the law was later repealed that allowed day wages to also be reduced. To protect workers Grant signed an executive order that "no reduction shall be made in the wages" regardless of the reduction in hours for the government day workers.
Treasury Secretary George S. Boutwell reorganized and reformed the United States Treasury by discharging unnecessary employees, started sweeping changes in Bureau of Printing and Engraving to protect the currency from counterfeiters, and revitalized tax collections to hasten the collection of revenue. These changes soon led the Treasury to have a monthly surplus. By May 1869, Boutwell reduced the national debt by $12 million. By September the national debt was reduced by $50 million, which was achieved by selling the growing gold surplus at weekly auctions for greenbacks and buying back wartime bonds with the currency. The New York Tribune wanted the government to buy more bonds and greenbacks and the New York Times praised the Grant administration's debt policy.
The first two years of the Grant administration with George Boutwell at the Treasury helm expenditures had been reduced to $292 million in 1871 – down from $322 million in 1869. The cost of collecting taxes fell to 3.11% in 1871. Grant reduced the number of employees working in the government by 2,248 persons from 6,052 on March 1, 1869 to 3,804 on December 1, 1871. He had increased tax revenues by $108 million from 1869 to 1872. During his first administration the national debt fell from $2.5 billion to $2.2 billion.
In a rare case of preemptive reform during the Grant Administration, Brevet Major General Alfred Pleasonton was dismissed for being unqualified to hold the position of Commissioner of Internal Revenue. In 1870, Pleasonton, a Grant appointment, approved an unauthorized $60,000 tax refund and was associated with an alleged unscrupulous Connecticut firm. Treasury Secretary George Boutwell promptly stopped the refund and personally informed Grant that Pleasonton was incompetent to hold office. Refusing to resign on Boutwell's request, Pleasonton protested openly before Congress. President Grant removed Pleasonton before any potential scandal broke out.
Yellowstone, buffalo, and conservation
Organized exploration of the upper Yellowstone River began in the fall of 1869 when the Cook–Folsom–Peterson Expedition made a month-long journey up the Yellowstone River and into the geyser basins. In 1870, the somewhat more official Washburn–Langford–Doane Expedition explored the same regions of the upper Yellowstone and geyser basins, naming Old Faithful and many other park features. Official reports from Lieutenant Gustavus Cheyney Doane and Scribner's Monthly accounts by Nathaniel P. Langford brought increased public awareness to the natural wonders of the region. Influenced by Jay Cooke of the Northern Pacific Railroad and Langford's public speeches about the Yellowstone on the East Coast, geologist Ferdinand Hayden sought funding from Congress for an expedition under the auspices of the U.S. Geological Survey. In March 1871 Congress appropriated, in total, $40,000 to finance the Hayden Geological Survey of 1871. Hayden was given instructions by Grant's Secretary of Interior, Columbus Delano. The expedition party was composed of 36 civilians, mostly scientists, and two military escorts. Among the survey party were artist Thomas Moran and photographer William Henry Jackson. Hayden's published reports, magazine articles, along with paintings by Moran and photographs by Jackson convinced Congress to preserve the natural wonders of the upper Yellowstone. On December 18, 1871, a bill was introduced simultaneously in the Senate, by Senator S.C. Pomeroy of Kansas, and in the House of Representatives, by Congressman William H. Clagett of the Montana Territory, for the establishment of a park at the headwaters of the Yellowstone River. Hayden's influence on Congress is readily apparent when examining the detailed information contained in the report of the House Committee on Public Lands: "The bill now before Congress has for its objective the withdrawal from settlement, occupancy, or sale, under the laws of the United States a tract of land fifty-five by sixty-five miles, about the sources of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, and dedicates and sets apart as a great national park or pleasure-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people." When the bill was presented to Congress, the bill's chief supporters, ably prepared by Langford, Hayden and Jay Cooke, convinced their colleagues that the region's real value was as a park area, to be preserved in its natural state. The bill was approved by a comfortable margin in the Senate on January 30, 1872, and by the House on February 27. On March 1, 1872, Grant played his role, in signing the "Act of Dedication" into law. It established the Yellowstone region as the nation’s first national park, made possible by three years of exploration by Cook-Folsom-Peterson (1869), Washburn-Langford-Doane (1870), and Hayden (1871).
In 1872, around two thousand white buffalo hunters working between Wichita, Kansas and Arkansas were killing buffalo for their hides by the many thousands. Acres of land were dedicated solely for drying the hides of the slaughtered buffalo. Native Americans protested at the "wanton destruction" of their food supply. By 1874, 3,700,000 bison had been destroyed on the western and southern Plains of the United States. Concern for the destruction of the buffalo mounted, and a bill in Congress was passed, HR 921, that would have made buffalo hunting illegal for whites. Taking advise from Secretary Delano Grant chose to pocket veto the bill believing that the demise of the buffalo would reduced Indian wars and force tribes to stay on their respected reservations and to adapt an agricultural lifestyle rather than roaming the plains and hunting buffalo. Ranchers favored the buffalo slaughter to open pasture land for their cattle herds. With the buffalo food supply lowered, Native Americans were forced to stay on reservations.
The 1872 Yellowstone Act prohibited fish and game, including buffalo, from "wanton destruction" within the confines of the park. However, Congress did not appropriate funds or legislation for the enforcement against poaching; as a result, Secretary Delano could not hire people to aid tourists or protect Yellowstone from encroachment. By the 1880s buffalo herds dwindled to only a few hundred a majority found mostly in Yellowstone National Park. Congress finally appropriated money and enforcement legislation in 1894, signed into law by President Grover Cleveland, that protected and preserved buffalo and other wildife in Yellowstone. Grant also signed legislation that protected northern fur seals on Alaska’s Pribilof Islands. This was the first law in U.S. history that specifically protected wildlife on federally owned land.
The foreign-policy of the Administration was generally successful, except for the attempt to annex Santo Domingo. The annexation of Santo Domingo was President Grant's "not unrealistic" effort to relieve the plight of blacks in the South during Reconstruction and was a first step to end slavery in Cuba and Brazil. The dangers of a confrontation with Britain on the Alabama question were resolved peacefully, and to the monetary advantage of the United States. Issues regarding the Canadian boundary were easily settled. The achievements were the work of Secretary Hamilton Fish, who was a spokesman for caution and stability. A poll of historians has stated that Secretary Fish was one of the greatest Secretraries of States in United States history. Fish was appointed Secretary of State by Grant on March 17, 1869 and served on Grant's Cabinet until the end of Grant's second term on March 4, 1877. Afterwards Secretary Fish briefly served on President Rutherford B. Hayes Cabinet until March 12, 1877.
Dominican Republic annexation treaty
In 1869, Grant proposed to annex the independent largely black nation of the Dominican Republic, then known as Santo Domingo. Previously in 1868, President Andrew Johnson had attempted to annex the Dominican Republic and Santo Domingo, but the House of Representatives defeated two resolutions for the protection of the Dominican Republic and Santo Domingo and for the annexation of the Dominican Republic. In July, 1869 Grant sent Orville E. Babcock and Rufus Ingalls who negotiated a draft treaty with Dominican Republic President Buenaventura Báez for the annexation of Santo Domingo to the United States and the sale of Samaná Bay for $2 million. To keep the island nation and Báez secure in power, Grant ordered naval ships, unauthorized by Congress, to secure the island from invasion and internal insurrection. Báez signed an annexation treaty on November 19, 1869 offered by Babcock under federal State department authorization. Secretary Fish drew up a final draft of the proposal and offered $1.5 million to the Dominican national debt, the annexation of Santo Domingo as an American state, the United States' acquisition of the rights for Samaná Bay for 50 years with an annual $150,000 rental, and guaranteed protection from foreign intervention. On January 10, 1870 the Santo Domingo treaty was submitted to the Senate for ratification. Despite his support of the annexation, Grant made the mistakes of not informing Congress of the treaty or encouraging national acceptance and enthusiasm.
Not only did Grant believe that the island would be of use to the Navy tactically, particularly Samaná Bay, but also he sought to use it as a bargaining chip. By providing a safe haven for the freedmen, he believed that the exodus of black labor would force Southern whites to realize the necessity of such a significant workforce and accept their civil rights. Grant believed the island country would increase exports and lower the trade deficit. He hoped that U.S. ownership of the island would urge Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Brazil to abandon slavery. On March 15, 1870, the Foreign Relations Committee, headed by Sen. Charles Sumner, recommended against treaty passage. Sumner, the leading spokesman for African American civil rights, believed that annexation would be enormously expensive and involve the U.S. in an ongoing civil war, and would threaten the independence of Haiti and the West Indies, thereby blocking black political progress. On May 31, 1870 Grant went before Congress and urged passage of the Dominican annexation treaty. Strongly opposed to ratification, Sumner successfully led the opposition in the Senate. On June 30, 1870 the Santo Domingo annexation treaty failed to pass the Senate; 28 votes in favor of the treaty and 28 votes against. Grant's own cabinet was divided over the Santo Domingo annexation attempt, and Bancroft Davis, assistant to Sec. Hamilton Fish, was secretly giving information to Sen. Sumner on state department negotiations.
Grant was determined to keep the Dominican Republic treaty in the public debate, mentioning Dominican Republic annexation in his December, 1870 State of the Union Address. Grant was able to get Congress in January, 1871 to create a special Commission to investigate the island. Senator Sumner continued to vigorously oppose and speak out against annexation. Grant appointed Frederick Douglass, an African American civil rights activist, as one of the Commissioners who voyaged to the Dominican Republic. Returning to the United States after several months, the Commission in April 1871, issued a report that stated the Dominican people desired annexation and that the island would be beneficial to the United States. To celebrate the Commissions return, Grant invited the Commissioners to the White House, except Frederick Douglass. African American leaders were upset and the issue of Douglas not being invited to the White House dinner was brought up during the 1872 Presidential election by Horace Greeley. Douglas, however, who was personally disappointed for not being invited to the White House, remained loyal to Grant and the Republican Party. Although the Commission supported Grant's annexation attempt, there was not enough enthusiasm in Congress to vote on a second annexation treaty.
Unable constitutionally to go directly after Sen. Sumner, Grant immediately removed Sumner's close and respected friend Ambassador, John Lothrop Motley. With Grant's prodding in the Senate, Sumner was finally deposed from the Foreign Relations Committee. Grant reshaped his coalition, known as "New Radicals", working with enemies of Sumner such as Ben Butler of Massachusetts, Roscoe Conkling of New York, and Oliver P. Morton of Indiana, giving in to Fish's demands that Cuba rebels be rejected, and moving his Southern patronage from the radical blacks and carpetbaggers who were allied with Sumner to more moderate Republicans. This set the stage of the Liberal Republican revolt of 1872, when Sumner and his allies publicly denounced Grant and supported Horace Greeley and the Liberal Republicans.
A Congressional investigation in June, 1870 led by Senator Carl Schurz revealed that Babcock and Ingalls both had land interests in the Bay of Samaná that would increase in value if the Santo Domingo treaty were ratified. U.S. Navy ships, with President Grant's authorization, had been sent to protect Báez from an invasion by a Dominican rebel, Gregorio Luperón, while the treaty negotiations were taking place. The investigation had initially been called to settle a dispute between an American businessman Davis Hatch against the United States government. Báez had imprisoned Hatch without trial for his opposition to the Báez government. Hatch had claimed that the United States had failed to protect him from imprisonment. The majority Congressional report dismissed Hatch's claim and exonerated both Babcock and Ingalls. The Hatch incident, however, kept certain Senators from being enthusiastic about ratifying the treaty.
In 1869, Grant was urged by popular opinion to support rebels in Cuba with military assistance and to give them U.S. diplomatic recognition. Grant and Fish instead attempted to use arbitration with Spain with minister Daniel Sickles negotiating. Grant and Fish wanted Cuban independence and to end slavery without U.S. military intervention or occupation. Fish, diligently and against popular pressure, was able to keep Grant from officially recognizing Cuban independence because it would have endangered negotiations with Britain over the Alabama Claims. The Sickle's peace negotiations failed in Madrid, but Grant and Fish did not succumb to popular pressure for U.S. military involvement in the Cuban rebellion. Grant and Fish sent a message to Congress, written by Fish and signed by Grant. The message urged strict neutrality not to officially recognize the Cuban revolt, calming national fears.
Treaty of Washington
Historians have credited the Treaty of Washington for implementing International Arbitration to allow outside experts to settle disputes. Grant's able Secretary of State Hamilton Fish had orchestrated many of the events leading up to the treaty. Previously, Secretary of State William H. Seward during the Johnson administration first proposed an initial treaty concerning damages done to American merchants by three Confederate warships, CSS Florida, CSS Alabama, and CSS Shenandoah built in Britain. These damages were collectively known as the Alabama Claims. These ships had inflicted tremendous damage to U.S. merchant ships during the Civil War and Washington wanted the British to pay heavy damages, perhaps including turning over Canada.
On April 1869, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly rejected a proposed treaty which paid too little and contained no admission of British guilt for prolonging the war. Senator Charles Sumner spoke up before congress; publicly denounced Queen Victoria; demanded a huge reparation; and opened the possibility of Canada ceded to the United States as payment. The speech angered the British government, and talks had to be put off until matters cooled down. Negotiations for a new treaty began in January 1871 when Britain sent Sir John Rose to America to meet with Fish. A joint high commission was created on February 9, 1871 in Washington, consisting of representatives from both Britain and the United States. The commission created a treaty where an international Tribunal would settle the damage amounts; the British admitted regret, not fault, over the destructive actions of the Confederate war cruisers. Grant approved and signed the treaty on May 8, 1871; the Senate ratified the Treaty of Washington on May 24, 1871.
The Tribunal met in Geneva, Switzerland. The U.S. was represented by Charles Francis Adams, one of five international arbitrators, and was counseled by William M. Evarts, Caleb Cushing, and Morrison R. Waite. On August 25, 1872, the Tribunal awarded United States $15.5 million in gold; $1.9 million was awarded to Great Britain. Historian Amos Elwood Corning noted that the Treaty of Washington and arbitration "bequeathed to the world a priceless legacy". In addition to the $15.5 million arbitration award, the treaty resolved some disputes over borders and fishing rights. On October 21, 1872 William I, Emperor of Germany, settled a boundary dispute in favor of the United States.
A primary role of the United States Navy in the 19th century was to protect American commercial interests and open trade to Eastern markets, including Japan and China. Korea had excluded all foreign trade and, the U.S. sought a treaty dealing with shipwrecked sailors after the crew of a stranded American commercial ship was killed. The long-term goal for the Grant Administration was to open Korea to Western markets in the same way Commodore Matthew Perry had opened Japan in 1854 by a Naval display of military force. On May 30, 1871 Rear Admiral John Rodgers with a fleet of five ships, part of the Asiatic Squadron, arrived at the mouth of the Salee River below Seoul. The fleet included the Colorado, one of the largest ships in the Navy with 47 guns, 47 officers, and a 571-man crew. While waiting for senior Korean officials to negotiate, Rogers sent ships out to make soundings of the Salee River for navigational purposes.
The American fleet was fired upon by a Korean fort, but there was little damage. Rogers gave the Korean government ten days to apologize or begin talks, but the Royal Court kept silent. After ten days passed, on June 10, Rogers began a series of amphibious assaults that destroyed 5 Korean forts. These military engagements were known as the Battle of Ganghwa. Several hundred Korean soldiers and three Americans were killed. Korea still refused to negotiate, and the American fleet sailed away. The Koreans refer to this 1871 U.S. military action as Shinmiyangyo. President Grant defended Rogers in his third annual message to Congress in December, 1871. After a change in regimes in Seoul, in 1881, the U.S. negotiated a treaty – the first treaty between Korea and a Western nation.
Corruption and reform (1869-1873)
The main scandals included Black Friday in 1869 and the Whiskey Ring in 1875. The Crédit Mobilier is not a Grant scandal; its origins having been in 1864 during the Abraham Lincoln Administration which carried over into the Andrew Johnson Administration. The actual Crédit Mobilier scandal was exposed during the Grant Administration in 1872 as the result of political infighting between Congressman Oakes Ames and Congressman Henry S. McComb. Stocks owned by Ambassador to Britain Robert C. Schenck in the fraudulent Emma Silver Mine is considered a Grant Administration embarrassment rather than a scandal. Although Grant's Administration had many successes during the first term as President in the economy, civil rights, and foreign policy, scandals associated with the Administration were beginning to emerge publicly. Although Grant himself was not directly responsible for and did not profit from the corruption among subordinates, he was reluctant to believe friends could commit criminal activities. As a result, he failed to take any direct action and rarely reacted strongly after their guilt was established. Grant protected close friends with Presidential power and pardoned persons who were convicted in the Whiskey Ring scandal after serving only a few months in prison. When his second term ended, Grant wrote to Congress that "Failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent". Nepotism was rampant; around 40 family relatives financially prospered while Grant was President.
Gold Ring thwarted
In September 1869, financial manipulators Jay Gould and Jim Fisk set up an elaborate scam to corner the gold market through buying up all the gold at the same time to drive up the price. The plan was to keep the Government from selling gold, thus driving its price. President Grant and Secretary of Treasury George S. Boutwell found out about the gold market speculation and ordered the sale of $4 million in gold on (Black) Friday, September 23. Gould and Fisk were thwarted, and the price of gold dropped. The effects of releasing the gold by Boutwell were disastrous. Stock prices plunged and food prices dropped, devastating farmers for years.
Civil service commission
Grant was the first U.S. President to recommend a professional civil service, pushed the initial legislation through Congress, and appointed the members for the first United States Civil Service Commission. The temporary Commission recommended administering competitive exams and issuing regulations on the hiring and promotion of government employees. Grant ordered their recommendations in effect in 1872; having lasted for two years until December, 1874. At the New York Custom House, a port that took in hundreds of millions of dollars a year in revenue, persons who applied for an entry position had to take and pass a civil service examination. Chester A. Arthur who was appointed by Grant as New York Custom Collector stated that the examinations excluded and deterred unfit persons from getting employment positions. However, Congress, in no mood to reform itself, denied any long-term reform by refusing to enact the necessary legislation to make the changes permanent. Historians have traditionally been divided whether patronage, meaning appointments made without a merit system, should be labelled corruption.
The movement for Civil Service reform reflected two distinct objectives: to eliminate the corruption and inefficiencies in a non-professional bureaucracy, and to check the power of President Johnson. Although many reformers after the Election of 1868 looked to Grant to ram Civil Service legislation through Congress, he refused, saying: "Civil Service Reform rests entirely with Congress. If members will give up claiming patronage, that will be a step gained. But there is an immense amount of human nature in the members of Congress, and it is human nature to seek power and use it to help friends. You cannot call it corruption – it is a condition of our representative form of Government." Grant used patronage to build his party and help his friends. He protected those whom he thought were the victims of injustice or attacks by his enemies, even if they were guilty. Grant believed in loyalty with his friends, as one writer called it the "Chivalry of Friendship".
Star Route Postal Ring
In the early 1870s during the Grant Administration, lucrative postal route contracts were given to local contractors on the Pacific Coast and Southern regions of the United States. These were known as Star Routes because an asterisk was given on official Post Office documents. These remote routes were hundreds of miles long and went to the most rural parts of the United States by horse and buggy. In obtaining these highly prized postal contracts, an intricate ring of bribery and straw bidding was set up in the Postal Contract office; the ring consisted of contractors, postal clerks, and various intermediary brokers. Straw bidding was at its highest practice while John Creswell, Grant's 1869 appointment, was Postmaster-General. An 1872 federal investigation into the matter exonerated Creswell, but he was censured by the minority House report. A $40,000 bribe to the 42nd Congress by one postal contractor had tainted the results of the investigation. In 1876, another congressional investigation under a Democratic House shut down the postal ring for a few years.
New York Custom House Ring
Prior to the Presidential Election of 1872 two congressional and one Treasury Department investigations took place over corruption at the New York Custom House under Grant collector appointments Moses H. Grinnell and Thomas Murphy. Private warehouses were taking imported goods from the docks and charging shippers storage fees. Grant's friend, George K. Leet, was allegedly involved with exorbitant pricing for storing goods and splitting the profits. Grant's third collector appointment, Chester A. Arthur, implemented Secretary of Treasury George S. Boutwell's reform to keep the goods protected on the docks rather than private storage.
On March 3, 1873, President Grant signed a law that authorized the President's salary to be increased from $25,000 a year to $50,000 a year and Congressmen's salaries to be increased by $2,500. Representatives also received a retroactive pay bonus for previous two years of service. This was done in secret and attached to a general appropriations bill. Reforming newspapers quickly exposed the law and the bonus was repealed on January 1874. Grant missed an opportunity to veto the bill and to make a strong statement for good government. Congress sustained Grant's $50,000 a year salary.
Election of 1872
Grant remained popular throughout the nation despite the scandals evident during his first term in office. Grant had supported a patronage system that allowed Republicans to infiltrate and control state governments. In response to President Grant's federal patronage, in 1870, Senator Carl Schurz from Missouri, a German immigrant and Civil War hero, started a second party known as the Liberal Republicans; they advocated civil service reform, a low tariff, and amnesty to former Confederate soldiers. The Liberal Republicans successfully ran B.G. Brown for the governorship of Missouri and won with Democrat support. Then in 1872, the party completely split from the Republican party and nominated New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley as candidate for the Presidency. The Democrats, who at this time had no strong candidate choice of their own, reluctantly adopted Greeley as their candidate with Governor B.G. Brown as his running mate. Frederick Douglass supported Grant and reminded black voters that Grant had destroyed the violent Ku Klux Klan.
The Republicans, who were content with their Reconstruction program for the South, renominated Grant and Representative Henry Wilson in 1872. Grant had remained a popular Civil War hero, and the Republicans continued to wave the "bloody shirt" as a patriotic symbol representing the North. The Republicans favored high tariffs and a continuation of Radical Reconstruction policies that supported five military districts in the Southern states. Grant also favored amnesty to former Confederate soldiers like the Liberal Republicans. Because of political infighting between Liberal Republicans and Democrats, the physically ailing Greeley was no match for the "Hero of Appomattox" and lost dismally in the popular vote. Grant swept 286 Electoral College votes while other minor candidates received only 63 votes. Grant won 55.8 percent of the popular vote between Greeley and the other minor candidates. Heartbroken after a hard fought political campaign, Greeley died a few weeks after the election and was able to receive only 3 electoral votes. Out of respect for Greeley, Grant attended his funeral.
Second Term 1873–1877
Conservative resistance to Republican state governments grew after the 1872 elections. With the destruction of the Klan in 1872, new secret paramilitary organizations arose in the Deep South. In Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Louisiana, the Red Shirts and White League operated openly and were better organized than the Ku Klux Klan. Their goals were to oust the Republicans, return Conservative whites to power, and use whatever illegal methods needed to achieve them. Being loyal to his veterans, Grant remained determined that African Americans would receive protection.
After the November 4, 1872 election, Louisiana was a split state. In a controversial election, two candidates were claiming victory as governor. Violence was used to intimidate black Republicans. The fusionist party of Liberal Republicans and Democrats claimed John McEnery as the victor, while the Republicans claimed U.S. Senator William P. Kellogg. Two months later each candidate was sworn in as governor on January 13, 1873. A federal judge ruled that Kellogg was the rightful winner of the election and ordered him and the Republican based majority to be seated. The White League supported McEnry and prepared to use military force to remove Kellogg from office. Grant ordered troops to enforce the court order and protect Kellogg. On March 4, Federal troops under a flag of truce and Kellogg's state militia defeated McEnry's fusionist party's insurrection.
A dispute arose over who would be installed as judge and sheriff at the Colfax courthouse in Grant Parish. Kellogg's two appointees had seized control of the Court House on March 25 with aid and protection of black state militia troops. Then on April 13, White League forces attacked the courthouse and massacred 50 black militiamen who had been captured. A total of 105 blacks were killed trying to defend the Colfax courthouse for Governor Kellogg. On April 21, Grant sent in the U.S. 19th Infantry Regiment to restore order. On May 22, Grant issued a new proclamation to restore order in Louisiana. On May 31, McEnry finally told his followers to obey "peremptory orders" of the President. The orders brought a brief peace to New Orleans and most of Louisiana, except, ironically, Grant Parish.
The Brooks-Baxter war in Arkansas
In the fall of 1872 the Republican party split in Arkansas and ran two candidates for governor, Elisha Baxter and Joseph Brooks. Massive fraud characterized the election, but Baxter was declared the winner and took office. Brooks never gave up, and finally in 1874 a local judge ruled Brooks was entitled to the office and swore him in. Both sides mobilized militia units, and rioting and fighting bloodied the streets. There was anticipation who President Grant would side with – either Baxter or Brooks. Grant delayed, requesting a joint session of the Arkansas government to figure out peacefully who would be the Governor, but Baxter refused to participate. Then, on May 15, 1874, President Grant issued a Proclamation that Baxter was the legitimate Governor of Arkansas, and the hostilities ceased. In fall of 1874 the people of Arkansas voted out Baxter, and all the Republicans and the Redeemers came to power. A few months later in early 1875, Grant astonished the nation by reversing himself and announcing that Brooks had been legitimately elected back in 1872. Grant did not send in troops, and Brooks never regained office; instead Grant gave him the high-paying patronage job of postmaster in Little Rock. Brooks died in 1877. The episode brought further discredit to Grant.
In August 1874, the Vicksburg city government elected a White reform party consisting of Republicans and Democrats. This was done initially to lower city spending and taxes. Despite their early intentions, the reform movement turned racist when the new White city officials went after the county government, which had a majority of African Americans. Rather than using legal means, the White League threatened the life of and expelled Crosby, the black county sheriff and tax collector. Crosby then went to Governor Adelbert Ames to seek help to regain his position as sheriff. Governor Ames told him to take other African Americans and use force to retain his lawful position as Sheriff of Warren County. At that time Vicksburg had a population of 12,443, over half of whom were African American.
On December 7, 1874, Crosby and an African American militia approached the city. He had declared that the Whites were, "ruffians, barbarians, and political banditti". A series of battles occurred that resulted in 29 African Americans and 2 Whites killed. The White militia retained control of the Court House and jail. On December 21, Grant gave a Presidential Proclamation for the people in Vicksburg to stop fighting. Philip Sheridan in Louisiana dispatched troops who reinstated Crosby as sheriff and restored the peace. When questioned about the matter, Governor Ames denied he had told Crosby to use African American militia. On June 7, 1875, Crosby was shot to death by a White deputy while drinking in a bar. The origins for the shooting remained a mystery.
Louisiana revolt and coups
On September 14, 1874, the White League and Democratic militia took control of the state house at New Orleans, and the Republican Governor William P. Kellogg was forced to flee. Former Confederate General James A. Longstreet, with 3,000 African American militia and 400 Metropolitan police, made a counterattack on the 8,000 White League troops. Consisting of former Confederate soldiers, the experienced White League troops routed Longstreet's army. On September 17, Grant sent in Federal troops, and they restored the government back to Kellogg. During the following controversial election in November, passions rose high, and violence mixed with fraud were rampant; the state of affairs in New Orleans was becoming out of control. The results were that 53 Republicans and 53 Democrats were elected with 5 remaining seats to be decided by the legislature.
Grant had been careful to watch the elections and secretly sent Phil Sheridan in to keep law and order in the state. Sheridan had arrived in New Orleans a few days before the January 4, 1875 legislature opening meeting. At the convention the Democrats again with military force took control of the state building out of Republican hands. Initially, the Democrats were protected by federal troops under Colonel Philip Régis de Trobriand, and the escaped Republicans were removed from the hallways of the state building. However, Governor Kellogg then requested that Trobriand reseat the Republicans. Trobriand returned to the State house and used bayonets to force the Democrats out of the building. The Republicans then organized their own house with their own speakers all being protected by the Federal Army. Sheridan, who had annexed the Department of the Gulf to his command at 9:00 P.M., claimed that the federal troops were being neutral since they had also protected the Democrats earlier.
South Carolina 1876
During the election year of 1876, South Carolina was in a state of rebellion against Republican governor Daniel H. Chamberlain. Conservatives were determined to win the election for ex-Confederate Wade Hampton through violence and intimidation. The Republicans went on to nominate Chamberlain for a second term. Hampton supporters, donning red shirts, disrupted Republican meetings with gun shootings and yelling. Tensions became violent on July 8, 1876 when five African Americans were murdered at Hamburg. The rifle clubs, wearing their Red Shirts, were better armed then the blacks. South Carolina was ruled more by "mobocracy and bloodshed" than by Chamberlain's government.
Black militia fought back in Charleston on September 6, 1876 in what was known as the "King Street riot". The white militia assumed defensive positions out of concern over possible intervention from federal troops. Then, on September 19, the Red Shirts took offensive action by openly killing between 30 and 50 African Americans outside Ellenton. During the massacre, state representative Simon Coker was killed. On October 7, Governor Chamberlain declared martial law and told all the "rifle club" members to put down their weapons. In the meantime, Wade Hampton never ceased to remind Chamberlain that he did not rule South Carolina. Out of desperation, Chamberlain wrote to President Grant and asked for federal intervention. The "Cainhoy riot" took place on October 15 when Republicans held a rally at "Brick Church" outside Cainhoy. Blacks and whites both opened fire; six whites and one black were killed. Grant, upset over the Ellenton and Cainhoy riots, finally declared a Presidential Proclamation on October 17, 1876 and ordered all persons, within 3 days, to cease their lawless activities and disperse to their homes. A total of 1,144 federal infantrymen were sent into South Carolina, and the violence stopped; election day was quiet. Both Hampton and Chamberlain claimed victory, and for a while both acted as governor; Hampton took the office in 1877, after President Rutherford B. Hayes withdrew federal troops and after Chamberlain left the state.
Under Grant's peace policy, wars between settlers, the federal army, and the American Indians had been decreasing from 101 per year in 1869 to a low of 15 per year in 1875. However, the discovery of gold in the Black Hills of the Dakota Territory and the completion of the Northern Pacific Railway, threatened to unravel Grant's peace policy, as white settlers encroached upon native land to mine for gold. Indian wars per year jumped up to 32 in 1876 and remained at 43 in 1877. One of the highest casualty Indian battles that took place in American history was at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Indian war casualties in Montana went from 5 in 1875, to 613 in 1876 and 436 in 1877.
In January 1873, Grant's Native American peace policy was challenged. Two weeks after Grant was elected for a second term, fighting broke out between the Modocs and settlers near the California-Oregon border. The Modocs, led by Captain Jack, killed 18 white settlers and then found a strong defensive position. Grant ordered General Sherman not to attack the Indians but settle matters peacefully with a commission. Sherman then sent Major General Edward Canby, but Captain Jack killed him. Reverend Eleazar Thomas, a Methodist minister, was also killed. Alfred B. Meacham, an Indian Agent, was severely wounded. The murders shocked the nation, and Sherman wired to have the Modocs exterminated. Grant overruled Sherman; Captain Jack was executed, and the remaining 155 Modocs were relocated to the Quapaw Agency in the Indian Territory. This episode and the Great Sioux War undermined public confidence in Grant's peace policy, according to historian Robert M. Utley.[note 3]
Red River War
In 1874, war erupted on the southern Plains when Quanah Parker, leader of the Comanche, led 700 tribal warriors and attacked the buffalo hunter supply base on the Canadian River, at Adobe Walls, Texas. The Army under General Phil Sheridan launched a military campaign, and, with few casualties on either side, forced the Indians back to their reservations by destroying their horses and winter food supplies. Grant, who agreed to the Army plan advocated by Generals William T. Sherman and Phil Sheridan, imprisoned 74 insurgents in Florida.
Bureau of Indian Affairs corruption
In 1874, massive fraud prevailed in the Bureau of Indian Affairs under Secretary of the Interior Columbus Delano. This proved to be the most serious detriment to Grant's Indian peace policy. Many agents that worked for the department made unscrupulous fortunes and retired with more money than their pay would allow. Secretary Delano had allowed "Indian Attorneys" who were paid by Native American tribes $8.00 a day plus food and traveling expenses for sham representation in Washington. Other corruption charges were brought up against Secretary Delano and he was forced to resign. In 1875, Grant appointed Zachariah Chandler as Secretary of the Interior. Chandler vigorously uncovered and cleaned up the fraud in the department by firing all the clerks and banned the phony "Indian Attorneys" access to Washington. Grant's "Quaker" or church appointments partially made up the lack of food staples and housing from the government.
Great Sioux War
In 1874 gold had been discovered in the Black Hills in the Dakota Territory. White speculators and settlers rushed in droves seeking riches mining gold on land reserved for the Sioux tribe by the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868. In 1875, to avoid conflict President Grant met with Red Cloud, chief of the Sioux, at Washington, D.C., and offered $25,000 from the government to purchase the land. The offer was declined. On November 3, 1875 at a White House meeting, Phil Sheridan claimed to the President that the Army was overstretched and could not defend the Sioux tribe from the settlers; Grant capitulated; ordered Sheridan to round up the Sioux and put them on the reservation. Sheridan used a strategy of convergence, using Army columns to force the Sioux onto the reservation. On June 25, 1876, one of these columns, led by Colonel George A. Custer met the Sioux at the Battle of Little Big Horn and was slaughtered. Approximately 253 federal soldiers and civilians were killed compared to 40 American Indians. Custer's death and the Battle of Little Big Horn shocked the nation. Sheridan avenged Custer, pacified the northern Plains, and put the defeated Sioux on the reservation. On August 15, 1876 President Grant signed a proviso giving the Sioux nation $1,000,000 in rations, while the Sioux relinquished all rights to the Black Hills, except for a 40-mile land tract west of the 103 meridian. On August 28, a seven-man committee, appointed by Grant, gave additional harsh stipulations for the Sioux in order to receive government assistance. Halfbreeds and "squaw men" were banished from the Sioux reservation. To receive the government rations, the Indians had to work the land. Reluctantly, on September 20, the Indian leaders, whose people were starving, agreed to the committee's demands and signed the agreement.
During the Great Sioux War, Grant came into conflict with Col. George Armstrong Custer after he testified in 1876 about corruption in the War Department under Secretary William W. Belknap (see below). Grant had Custer arrested for breach of military protocol in Chicago and barred him from leading an upcoming campaign against the Sioux. Grant finally relented and let Custer fight under Brig. Gen. Alfred Terry. Custer was killed at the subsequent Battle of the Little Big Horn, a defeat for the federal army. Two months later, Grant castigated Custer in the press, saying "I regard Custer's massacre as a sacrifice of troops, brought on by Custer himself, that was wholly unnecessary -- wholly unnecessary." As the nation was shocked by the death of Custer, Grant's Peace policy became militaristic; Congress appropriated funds for 2,500 more troops, two more forts were constructed, the army took over the Indian agencies, while Indians were barred from purchasing rifles and ammunition.
Visited Colorado Territory
Grant was the first President to visit the Colorado Territory in late April 1873, having traveled by the Union Pacific Railroad, who had made a special presidential car. President Grant stayed at the residence of Governor Samuel H. Elbert, whom Grant had appointed earlier in April. Grant's presidential party included his wife, daughter Nellie, and his private secretary Orville E. Babcock. At a reception held by Governor Elbert at Guard Hall, Grant was met by many white people who aggressively sought his handshake. Grant met with 30 to 40 Ute Indians, who had desired to see the "Great Father", and shook their hands. Former Colorado Territory Governors John Evans and Edward M. McCook also met with Grant while he visited the Colorado Territory. President Grant was impressed by Colorado's "magnifigant scenery" and expressed his desire to revisit the territory.
Civil Rights Act of 1875
Throughout his presidency, Grant was continually concerned with the civil rights of all Americans, "irrespective of nationality, color, or religion." Grant signed the Civil Rights Act of 1875 that allowed citizens access to public eating establishments, hotels, and places of entertainment. This was done particularly to protect African Americans who were discriminated across United States. The bill was also passed in honor of Senator Charles Sumner who had previously attempted to pass a civil rights bill in 1872.
Polygamy and Chinese prostitution
In October 1875, Grant traveled to Utah and was surprised that the Mormons treated him kindly. He told Utah territorial governor, George W. Emery, that he had been deceived concerning the Mormons. However, on December 7, 1875 after his return to Washington, Grant wrote to Congress in his seventh annual state of the Union address that as "an institution polygamy should be banished from the land…" Grant believed that polygamy negatively affected children and women. Grant advocated that a second law, stronger than the Morrill Act, be passed to "punish so flagrant a crime against decency and morality."
Grant believed strongly in the separation of church and state and championed complete secularization in public schools. In a September 1875 speech, Grant advocated "security of free thought, free speech, and free press, pure morals, unfettered religious sentiments, and of equal rights and privileges to all men, irrespective of nationality, color, or religion." In regard to public education, Grant endorsed that every child should receive "the opportunity of a good common school education, unmixed with sectarian, pagan, or atheist tenets. Leave the matter of religion to the family altar, the church, and the private schools... Keep the church and the state forever separate."
Panic of 1873
The Panic of 1873 was a worldwide depression that started when the stock market in Vienna, Austria crashed in June that year. Unsettling markets soon spread to Berlin and throughout Europe. The panic eventually reached New York when two banks went broke – the New York Warehouse & Security Company on September 18 and the major railroad financier Jay Cooke & Company on September 19. The ensuing depression lasted 5 years, ruined thousands of businesses, depressed daily wages by 25% from 1873 to 1876, and brought the unemployment rate up to 14%.
The causes of the panic in the United States included the destruction of credit from over-speculation in the stock markets and railroad industry. Eight years of unprecedented growth after the Civil War had brought thousands of miles of railroad construction, thousands of industrial factories, and a strong stock market; the South experienced a boom in agriculture. However, all this growth was done on borrowed money by many banks in the United States that have over-speculated in the Railroad industry by as much as $20 million. A stringent monetary policy under Secretary of Treasury George S. Boutwell, during the height of the railroad speculations, contributed to unsettled markets. Boutwell created monetary stringency by selling more gold then he bought bonds. The Coinage Act of 1873 made gold the de facto currency metal over silver.
On September 20, 1873 the Grant Administration finally responded. Grant's Secretary of Treasury William Adams Richardson, Boutwell's replacement, bought $2.5 million of five-twenty bonds with gold. On Monday, September 22, Richardson bought $3 million of bonds with legal tender notes or greenbacks and purchased $5.5 million in legal tender certificates. From September 24 to September 25 the Treasury department bought $24 million in bonds and certificates with greenbacks. On September 29 the Secretary prepaid the interest on $12 million bonds bought from security banks. From October, 1873 to January 4, 1874 Richardson kept liquidating bonds until $26 million greenback reserves were issued to make up for lost revenue in the Treasury. These actions did help curb the effects of the general panic by allowing more currency into the commercial banks and hence allowing more money to be lent and spent. Historians have blamed the Grant administration for not responding to the crisis promptly and for not taking adequate measures to reduce the negative effects of the general panic. The monetary policies of both Secretary Boutwell and Richardson were inconsistent from 1872 to 1873. The government's ultimate failure was in not reestablishing confidence in the businesses that had been the source of distrust. The Panic of 1873 eventually ran its course despite all the limited efforts from the government.
Grant's "cronyism", as Smith (2001) calls it, was apparent when he overruled Army experts to help a wartime friend, engineer, James B. Eads. Eads was building a major railroad bridge across the Mississippi at St. Louis that had been authorized by Congress in 1866, and was nearing completion in 1873. However, the Army Corps of Engineers chief of engineers, agreeing with steam boat interests, ordered Eads to build a canal around the bridge because the bridge would be "a serious obstacle to navigation." After talking with Eads at the White House, Grant reversed the order and the 6,442 feet (1,964 m) long steel arched bridge went on to completion in 1874 without a canal.
Vetoes inflation bill
The rapidly accelerated industrial growth in post-Civil War America and throughout the world crashed with the Panic of 1873. Many banks overextended their loans and went bankrupt as a result, causing a general panic throughout the nation. In an attempt to put capital into a stringent monetary economy, Secretary of Treasury William A. Richardson released $26 million in greenbacks. Many argued that Richardson's monetary policies were not enough and some argued were illegal. In 1874, Congress debated the inflationary policy to stimulate the economy and passed the Inflation Bill of 1874 that would release an additional $18 million in greenbacks up to the original $400,000,000 amount. Eastern bankers vigorously lobbied Grant to veto the bill because of their reliance on bonds and foreign investors who did business in gold. Grant's cabinet was bitterly divided over this issue while conservative Secretary of State Hamilton Fish threatened to resign if Grant signed the bill. On April 22, 1874, after evaluating his own reasons for wanting to sign the bill, Grant unexpectedly vetoed the bill against the popular election strategy of the Republican Party because he believed it would destroy the nation's credit.
Resumption of Specie Act
On January 14, 1875, Grant signed the Resumption of Specie Act, and he could not have been happier; he wrote a note to Congress congratulating members on the passage of the act. The legislation was drafted by Ohio Republican Senator John Sherman. This act provided that paper money in circulation would be exchanged for gold specie and silver coins and would be effective January 1, 1879. The act also implemented that gradual steps would be taken to reduce the amount of greenbacks in circulation. At that time there were "paper coin" currency worth less than $1.00, and these would be exchanged for silver coins. Its effect was to stabilize the currency and make the consumers money as "good as gold". In an age without a Federal Reserve system to control inflation, this act stabilized the economy. Grant considered it the hallmark of his administration.
On October 31, 1873, a steamer Virginius, flying the American flag carrying war materials and men to aid the Cuban insurrection (in violation of American and Spanish law) was intercepted and taken to Cuba. After a hasty trial, the local Spanish officials executed 53 would-be insurgents, eight of whom were United States citizens; orders from Madrid to delay the executions arrived too late. War scares erupted in both the U.S. and Spain, heightened by the bellicose dispatches from the American minister in Madrid, retired general Daniel Sickles. Secretary of State Fish kept a cool demeanor in the crisis, and through investigation discovered there was a question over whether the Virginius ship had the right to bear the United States flag. The Spanish Republic's President Emilio Castelar expressed profound regret for the tragedy and was willing to make reparations through arbitration. Fish negotiated reparations with the Spanish minister Senor Poly y Bernabe. With Grant's approval, Spain was to surrender Virginius, pay an indemnity to the surviving families of the Americans executed, and salute the American flag; the episode ended quietly.
Hawaiian free trade treaty
In December 1874, Grant held a state dinner at the White House for the King of Hawaii, David Kalakaua, who was seeking the importation of Hawaiian sugar duty-free to the United States. Grant and Fish were able to produce a successful free trade treaty in 1875 with the Kingdom of Hawaii, incorporating the Pacific islands' sugar industry into the United States' economy sphere.
The U.S. settled the war between Liberia and the native Grebo people in 1876 by dispatching the USS Alaska to Liberia. James Milton Turner, the first African American ambassador from the United States, requested that a warship be sent to protect American property in Liberia, a former American colony. After Alaska arrived, Turner negotiated the incorporation of Grebo people into Liberian society and the ousting of foreign traders from Liberia.
Corruption and reform (1873-1877)
Scandals and frauds continued to be exposed during President Grant's second term in office. The Democrats along with the Liberal Republicans had gained control of the House of Representatives and held many Committee meetings to stop political graft. The main scandal was the Whiskey Ring where the investigation went up to Grant himself. The Emma Silver mine was a minor embarrassment associated with American Ambassador to Britain, Robert C. Schenck, using his name to promote a worked out silver mine. The Crédit Mobilier scandal's origins were during the presidential Administrations of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, however, political congressional infighting during the Grant Administration exposed the scandal.
Scandal cabinet and appointees
The most infamous of Grant's cabinet or other presidential appointees who were involved in scandals or criminal activity:
- Daniel Butterfield, Assistant Secretary of Treasury – (Black Friday- 1869)
- William A. Richardson, Secretary of Treasury – (Sanborn Contracts- 1874)
- George H. Williams, Attorney General – (Pratt & Boyd- 1875)
- Columbus Delano, Secretary of Interior – (Bogus Agents – 1875)
- Orville E. Babcock, Private Secretary – (Black Friday – 1869) (Whiskey Ring – 1875) (Safe Burglary Conspiracy – 1876)
- John McDonald, Internal Revenue Supervisor, St. Louis – (Whiskey Ring– 1875)
- Horace Porter, Private Secretary – (Whiskey Ring – 1875)
- William W. Belknap, Secretary of War – (Trading Post Ring- 1876)
- George M. Robeson, Secretary of Treasury – (Naval Department Ring- 1876)
In June 1874, Treasury Secretary William A. Richardson gave private contracts to one John D. Sanborn who in turn collected illegally withheld taxes for fees at inflated commissions. The profits from the commissions were allegedly split with Richardson and Senator Benjamin Butler, while Sanborn claimed these payments were "expenses". Senator Butler had written a loophole in the law that allowed Sanborn to collect the commissions, but Sanborn would not reveal whom he split the profits with.
Pratt & Boyd
In April 1875, it was discovered that Attorney General George H. Williams allegedly received a bribe through a $30,000 gift to his wife from a Merchant house company, Pratt & Boyd, to drop the case for fraudulent customhouse entries. Williams was forced to resign by Grant in 1875.
In 1875, the U.S. Department of the Interior was in serious disrepair with corruption and incompetence. The Secretary of Interior Columbus Delano, discovered to have taken bribes to secure fraudulent land grants, resigned from office on October 15, 1875. Delano had also given bogus lucrative cartographical contracts to his son John Delano and Ulysses S. Grant's own brother, Orvil Grant. Neither John Delano nor Orvil Grant performed any work or were skillfully qualified to hold such surveying positions. The Department of Indian Affairs was being controlled by corrupt clerks and bogus agents who made enormous profits from the exploitation of Native American tribes. Massive fraud was also found in the Patent Office with corrupt clerks who embezzled from the government payroll. Delano who refused to make any reforms resigned under public pressure rather than Grant asking for a resignation. It was another missed opportunity for Grant to support ethics in government. However, on October 19, 1875, Grant made another reforming cabinet choice when he appointed Zachariah Chandler as Secretary of the Interior. Chandler cleaned up the Patent Office and the Department of Indian Affairs by firing all the corrupt clerks and banned bogus agents.
Whiskey Ring prosecuted
In May 1875, Secretary of Treasury Benjamin H. Bristow discovered that millions of dollars of taxes were being funneled into an illegal ring from whiskey manufacturers. Prosecutions ensued, and many were put in prison. Grant's private Secretary Orville E. Babcock was indicted and later acquitted in trial. The Whiskey Ring was organized throughout the United States, and by 1875 it was a fully operating criminal association. The investigation and closure of the Whiskey Ring resulted in 230 indictments, 110 convictions, and $3,000,000 in tax revenues that were returned to the Treasury Department. During the prosecution of the Whiskey Ring leaders, Grant testified on behalf of his friend Babcock. As a result, Babcock was acquitted, however, the deposition by Grant was a great embarrassment to his reputation. The Babcock trial turned into an impeachment trial against the President by Grant's political opponents.
Trading post ring
In March 1876 it was discovered under House investigations that Secretary of War William W. Belknap was taking extortion money in exchange for allowing an Indian trading post agent to remain in position at Fort Sill. Belknap was allowed to resign by President Grant and as a result was acquitted in a Senate impeachment trial. Profits were made at the expense of Native Americans who were supposed to receive food and clothing from the government. In late April 1876, Grant lashed out at Lieut. Col. George A. Custer, after Custer had testified at a Congressional committee one month before against Grant's brother Orville and Sec. Belknap. There had been rumors Custer had talked with the press concerning the Indian post profiteering. Custer personally went to the White House to clear matters up with the President, however, Grant refused to see him three times. When Custer left Washington on May 3 to return to Fort Lincoln, he had been removed from overall command by Grant and denied any participation of the Sioux Campaign; having been replaced by Brig. Gen. Alfred Terry. However, at Terry's insistence, Grant relented and allowed Custer to participate in the campaign against the Sioux on the condition he did not take any pressmen.
In March 1876, Secretary of Navy George M. Robeson was charged by a Democratic-controlled House investigation committee with giving lucrative contracts to Alexander Cattell & Company, a grain supplier, in return for real estate, loans, and payment of debts. The House investigating committee also discovered that Secretary Robeson had allegedly embezzled $15 million in naval construction appropriations. Since there were no financial paper trails or enough evidence for impeachment and conviction, the House Investigation committee admonished Robeson and claimed he had set up a corrupt contracting system known as "Cattellism".
Safe burglary conspiracy
In September 1876, Orville E. Babcock, Superintendent of Public Works and Buildings, was indicted in a safe burglary conspiracy case and trial. In April, corrupt building contractors in Washington, D.C. were on trial for graft when a safe robbery occurred. Bogus secret service agents broke into a safe and attempted to frame Columbus Alexander, who had exposed the corrupt contracting ring. Babcock was named as part of the conspiracy, but later acquitted in the trial against the burglars. Evidence suggests that Backcock was involved with the swindles by the corrupt Washington Contractors Ring and he wanted revenge on Columbus Alexander, an avid reformer and critic of the Grant Administration. There was also evidence that safe burglary jury had been tampered with.
Reforming cabinet members
Grant's cabinet fluctuated between talented individuals or reformers and those involved with political patronage or party corruption. Some notable reforming cabinet members were persons who had outstanding abilities and made many positive contributions to the administration. These reformers resisted the GOP demands for patronage to select efficient civil servants. Grant's most successful appointment, Hamilton Fish, after the confirmation on March 17, 1869, went immediately to work and collected, classified, indexed, and bound seven hundred volumes of correspondence of a malicious nature. He established a new indexing system that simplified retrieving information by clerks. Fish also created a rule that applicants for consulate had to take an official written examination to receive an appointment; previously, applicants were given positions on a patronage system solely on the recommendations of Congressmen and Senators. This raised the tone and efficiency of the consular service, and if a Congressman or Senator objected, Fish could show them that the applicant did not pass the written test. According to Fish's biographer and historian Amos Elwood Corning in 1919, Fish was known as "a gentleman of wide experience, in whom the capacities of the organizer were happily united with a well balanced judgment and broad culture".
Another reforming cabinet member was United States Secretary of Treasury George S. Boutwell who was confirmed by the Senate on March 12, 1869. His first actions were to dismiss S.M. Clark, the chief of U.S. Bureau and Engraving, and to set up a system of securing the plates that the paper money was printed on to prevent counterfeiting. Boutwell set up a system to monitor the manufacturing of money to ensure nothing would be stolen. Boutwell prevented collusion in the printing of money by preparing sets of plates for a single printing, with the red seal being imprinted in the Treasury Bureau. Boutwell persuaded Grant to have the Commissioner of Internal Revenue Alfred Pleasanton removed for misconduct over approving a $60,000 tax refund. In addition to these measures, Boutwell established a uniform mode of accounting at custom houses and ports. Boutwell along with Attorney General, Amos T. Akerman, were two of Grant's strongest cabinet members who advocated racial justice for African Americans.
During Amos T. Akerman's tenure as Attorney General of the United States from 1870 to 1871, thousands of indictments were brought against Klansmen to enforce the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and the Force Acts of 1870 and 1871. Born in the North, Akerman moved to Georgia after college and owned slaves; he fought for the Confederacy and became a Scalawag during Reconstruction, speaking out for blacks' civil rights. As U.S. Attorney General, he became the first ex-Confederate to reach the cabinet. Akerman was unafraid of the Klan and committed to protecting the lives and civil rights of blacks. To bolster Akerman's investigation, Grant sent in Secret Service agents from the Justice Department to infiltrate the Klan and to gather evidence for prosecution. The investigations revealed that many whites participated in Klan activities. With this evidence, Grant issued a Presidential proclamation to disarm and remove the Klan's notorious white robe and hood disguises. When the Klan ignored the proclamation, Grant sent Federal troops to nine South Carolina counties to put down the violent activities of the Klan. Grant teamed Akerman up with another reformer in 1870 – the first Solicitor General and native Kentuckian Benjamin Bristow – and the duo went on to prosecute thousands of Klan members and brought a brief quiet period of two years in the turbulent Reconstruction era.
As perhaps Grant's most popular cabinet reformer, Benjamin H. Bristow was appointed Secretary of Treasury in June 1874. Bristow had served ably as Solicitor General of the United States from 1870 to 1872, prosecuting many Ku Klux Klan's men who violated African American voting rights. When Bristow assumed office he immediately made an aggressive attack on corruption in the department. Bristow discovered that the Treasury was not receiving the full amount of tax revenue from whiskey distillers and manufacturers from several Western cities, primarily St. Louis, Missouri. Bristow discovered in 1874 that the Government alone was being defrauded by $1.2 million. On May 13, 1875, armed with enough information, Bristow struck hard at the ring, seized the distilleries, and made hundreds of arrests; the Whiskey Ring ceased to exist. Although President Grant and Bristow were not on friendly terms, Bristow sincerely desired to save Grant's reputation from scandal. At the end of the Whiskey Ring prosecutions in 1876, there were 230 indictments, 110 convictions, and $3 million in tax revenues returned to the Treasury Department.
In 1875, Grant paired up Secretary of Treasury Benjamin Bristow with U.S. Attorney General Edwards Pierrepont, a Yale graduate. The appointment was popularly accepted by the public as Bristow and Pierrepont successfully prosecuted members of the Whiskey Ring. Before becoming U.S. Attorney General, Pierrepont was part of a reforming group known as the "Committee of Seventy" and was successful at shutting down William M. Tweed's corrupt contracting Ring while he was a New York U.S. Attorney in 1870. Although Grant's reputation was vastly improved, Pierrepont had shown indifference in 1875 to the plight of freedmen by circumventing Federal intervention when White racists terrorized Mississippi's African American citizens over a fraudulent Democratic election. Every cabinet appointment made by Grant came with a political cost.
When President Grant was in a bind to find a replacement for Secretary of War William W. Belknap, who abruptly resigned in 1876 amidst scandal, he turned to his good friend Alphonso Taft from Cincinnati. Taft, who accepted, served ably as Secretary of War until being transferred to the Attorney General position. As Secretary of War, Taft reduced military expenditures and made it so that no post-traderships would be given to any person except on the recommendation of the officers at the post. Grant then appointed Taft as U.S. Attorney General. Taft was a wise scholar and jurist educated at Yale University, and the Attorney General position suited him the best. During the controversial Presidential Election of 1876 between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J. Tilden, Attorney General Taft and House Representative J. Proctor Knott had many meetings to decide the outcome of the controversial election. The result of the Taft-Knott negotiations, the Electoral Commission Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by Grant on January 29, 1877; it created a 15 panel bipartisan committee to elect the next President. Hayes won the Presidency by one electoral vote two days before the March 4, 1877 Inauguration. Alphonso Taft was the father of future president William H. Taft.
In 1875, the U.S. Department of the Interior was in serious disrepair with corruption and incompetence. The result was that United States Secretary of Interior Columbus Delano, reportedly having taken bribes to secure fraudulent land grants, was forced to resign from office on October 15, 1875. On October 19, 1875, in a personal effort of reform, Grant appointed Zachariah Chandler to the position and was confirmed by the Senate in December 1875. Chandler immediately went to work on reforming the Interior Department by dismissing all the important clerks in the Patent Office. Chandler had discovered that fictitious clerks were earning money and that other clerks were earning money without performing services. Chandler simplified the patent application procedure and as a result reduced costs. Chandler, under President Grant's orders, fired all corrupt clerks at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Chandler also banned the practice of Native American agents, known as "Indian Attorneys" who were being paid $8.00 a day plus expenses for supposedly representing their tribes in Washington.
Postmaster General John A. J. Creswell proved to be one of the ablest organizers ever to head the Post Office. He cut costs while greatly expanding the number of mail routes, postal clerks and letter carriers. He introduced the penny post card and worked with Fish to revise postal treaties. A Radical, he used the vast patronage of the post office to support Grant's coalition. He asked for the total abolition of the franking privilege since it reduced the revenue receipts by five percent. The franking privilege allowed members of Congress to send mail at the government's expense.
Election of 1876
During the presidential election of 1876, the Republicans nominated the fiscally conservative Rutherford B. Hayes and the Democrats nominated reformer Samuel Tilden. Results were split. Tilden received 51% of the popular vote; Hayes 48%; while 20 key electoral votes remained undecided and in dispute. Both Republicans and Democrats claimed victory and the threat of a second civil war was eminent. Grant was watchful; encouraged Congress to settle the election by commission; and determined to keep a peaceful transfer of power. On January 29, 1877 Grant signed the Electoral Commission Act that gave a 15 panel bipartisan commission power to determine electoral votes. The commission gave Hayes 185 electoral votes; Tilden received 184. Hayes became the 19th President of the United States after being awarded 3 electoral votes from the state of Colorado. Grant's personal honesty, firmness, and even handedness reassured the nation and a second civil war was averted.
Grant appointed four Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States. The first two vacancies occurred in 1869 with the retirement of Robert C. Grier and Congress's restoration of a ninth seat on the Court.[a] Grant appointed former Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and Attorney General Ebenezer R. Hoar. Neither man would take his seat: Stanton was confirmed, but died before he took office; Hoar was widely disliked in the Senate, which defeated his nomination 24-33. Following a cabinet discussion, Grant submitted two more names to the Senate: William Strong and Joseph P. Bradley. Strong was a former justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania who retired to take up a private practice in Philadelphia. Bradley, a New Jersey lawyer, also had a successful private practice. Both men were railroad lawyers, and their appointment led to accusations that Grant intended them to overturn the case of Hepburn v. Griswold, which had been decided the same day they were nominated. That case, which was unpopular with business interests, held that the federal debt incurred before 1862 must be paid in gold, not greenbanks. Nonetheless, both Strong and Bradley were confirmed and the following year Hepburn was indeed reversed.
After Grant's reelection, another Supreme Court seat opened up with the retirement of Justice Samuel Nelson. Grant nominated Ward Hunt, a New York state judge and friend of Senator Roscoe Conkling, to replace him. Hunt was confirmed in 1873 and, like Nelson, upheld Reconstruction legislation. He served on the court until 1882. In May 1873, Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase died suddenly. Grant waited several months before offering the seat to Conkling in November. Conkling declined, as did Senator Timothy Howe of Wisconsin. Grant unsuccessfully tried to enlist Hamilton Fish for the job and considered nominating Caleb Cushing, as well, before submitting the name of his attorney general, George Henry Williams. The Senate had a dim view of Williams's performance at the Justice Department and refused to act on the nomination. Grant stuck to his choice, but after no action Williams asked that his name be withdrawn in January 1874. Fish suggested nominating Hoar again, but Grant instead chose Cushing. Cushing was an eminent lawyer and respected in his field, but the emergence of his wartime correspondence with Jefferson Davis doomed his nomination. Grant finally turned to Morrison Waite, a respectable (if little-known) Ohio lawyer who had worked on the Alabama claims arbitration. Waite was unanimously approved two days later, on January 21, 1874. Waite was an uncontroversial nominee, but in his time on the Court he authored two of the decisions (United States v. Reese and United States v. Cruikshank) that did the most to undermine Reconstruction-era laws for the protection of black Americans.
Administration and Cabinet
|The Grant Cabinet|
|President||Ulysses S. Grant||1869–1877|
|Vice President||Schuyler Colfax||1869–1873|
|Secretary of State||Elihu B. Washburne||1869|
|Secretary of Treasury||George S. Boutwell||1869–1873|
|William A. Richardson||1873–1874|
|Benjamin H. Bristow||1874–1876|
|Lot M. Morrill||1876–1877|
|Secretary of War||John A. Rawlins||1869|
|William W. Belknap||1869–1876|
|J. Donald Cameron||1876–1877|
|Attorney General||Ebenezer R. Hoar||1869–1870|
|Amos T. Akerman||1870–1871|
|George H. Williams||1871–1875|
|Postmaster General||John A. J. Creswell||1869–1874|
|James W. Marshall||1874|
|James N. Tyner||1876–1877|
|Secretary of the Navy||Adolph E. Borie||1869|
|George M. Robeson||1869–1877|
|Secretary of the Interior||Jacob D. Cox||1869–1870|
Supreme Court appointments
Grant appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:
- Edwin M. Stanton – 1869 (died before taking seat)
- William Strong – 1870
- Joseph P. Bradley – 1870
- Ward Hunt – 1873
- Morrison Remick Waite (Chief Justice) – 1874
States admitted to the Union
- Colorado – August 1, 1876
Grant vetoed more bills then any of his predecessors with 93 vetoes during the 41st through 44th Congresses. 45 were regular vetoes, and 48 of them were pocket vetoes. Grant had 4 vetoes overridden by Congress.
Government agencies instituted
- Department of Justice (1870)
- Office of the Solicitor General (1870)
- United States Civil Service Commission (1871); Congressional appropriations expired in 1873, however, the commission continued to function. The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act in 1883 renewed appropriations and enhanced the federal power and scope of the commission. Grant's U.S. Attorney General Amos T. Akerman ruled that the Civil Service Commission was Constitutional as long as the purpose was to increase government's power to higher qualified workers and improve the efficiency of running the government. Akerman stated that the Civil Service Commission did not have the Constitutional power to stop or prevent appointments.
- Office of the Surgeon General (1871)
- Army Weather Bureau (currently known as the National Weather Service) (1870)
Presidential succession 1875-1877
When Grant's second term Vice President and Cabinet member Henry Wilson died in office on November 22, 1875, by 1792 Statue, President pro tempore of the Senate, then Michigan Republican Senator Thomas W. Ferry, was next in line of succession to the president. On March 2, 1877 Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes was declared by Congress to be elected President having received a majority of electoral votes. President Grant believed an insurrection by the Democratic candidate Samuel J. Tilden's supporters over the controversial Election of 1876 could take place and wanted to make sure that any Democratic attempt to seize by force Hayes' public inauguration ceremony would fail. Since March 4, 1877 was a Sunday, President Grant secretly had Hayes take the oath of office in the Red Room of the White House on March 3, becoming the first president to take the oath of office in the White House. No disturbance took place and Hayes formally took the oath of president on Monday, March 5, 1877.
Grant was the first President since Andrew Jackson to serve two full terms in office. The 40 years that separated their administrations marks the longest time span between presidents without one serving two terms. The legacy of President Grant is one of American civil rights, international diplomacy, scandals, and a boom-and-bust national economy. In terms of civil rights, Grant had urged the passing of the 15th Amendment and signed into law the Civil Rights Bill of 1875 that gave all citizens access to places of public enterprise. Grant defeated the Klan by sending in the Justice Department, backed by the Army. Grant's 1868 Presidential campaign slogan "Let us have peace" rang true when his State Department resolved crises with Britain and Spain, implementing the new concept of International Arbitration.
The scandals revealed that Grant reacted too readily to protect his team, to coverup misdeeds, and to get rid of whistle blowers and reformers. It was impossible for Grant to morally check all of the corruption generated from the socioeconomic forces of a costly American Civil War, rapid industrialization, and Westward expansionism. His acceptance of gifts from wealthy associates showed poor judgment. He distrusted reformers as busybodies who were interfering with party patronage. He was reluctant to prosecute cabinet members and appointees viewed as "honest" friends, and those who were convicted were set free with presidential pardons after serving a brief time in prison. His associations with these scandals have tarnished his personal reputation while President and afterward. Despite the scandals, by the end of Grant's second term the corruption in the Departments of Interior (1875), Treasury (1874), and Justice (1875) were cleaned up by his new cabinet members. The State Departement under Secretary Hamilton Fish was run efficiently and virtually free from scandal for Grant's two terms in office. The Postal Service was cleaned up by reformer Post Master Marshall Jewell (1875), who aided Benjamin Bristow shut down the Whiskey Ring. The Department of War was cleaned up by Secretary Alphonso Taft, after the resignation of Secretary William Belknap in 1876. Grant's personal Secretary Orville Babcock was out of the White House by 1876. The Department of Navy, under Secretary George Robeson, remained unreformed, however, Robeson did implement U.S. Naval resurgence after the Virginius Incident in 1873.
Grant's generous treatment of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox helped give him popularity in the South. Although he kept civil rights on the political agenda, the Republican party at the end of Grant's second term shifted to pursuing conservative fiscal policies. His weak response to the Panic of 1873 hurt the economy and seriously damaged his party, which lost heavily in 1874. His personal will often strayed from normal Presidential orthodoxy, and his administration defied the American tradition of a government run without political corruption and favoritism. Grant's financial policies favored Wall Street, but his term ended with the nation mired in a deep economic depression that Grant could not comprehend or deal with. Revisionist historians during the first half of the Twentieth Century have tended to prop up a romantic view of the Confederacy and the Lost Cause at the expense of downgrading the Union cause and Grant's Presidency as a corrupt despot.
However, the tide is beginning to turn concerning Grant's presidential legacy. Frank Scaturro, who is credited with spearheading the movement to restore Grant's Tomb while only a college student, has since written the first book of the modern era which portrays Grant's presidency in a positive light. President Grant Reconsidered has altered the perception of how history and historians view Grant's presidency. At the time of its publication the Weekly Standard said that Scaturro's work was a "convincing case that Grant was a strong and, in many important respects, successful president. It is an argument full of significance for how we see the course of American political history. ... Scaturro's work ... should prompt a reassessment of the entire progressive-New Deal Tradition. And Presidential Studies Quarterly stated "It would appear that historians and the press have been unkind in their evaluation of Grant's two term presidency. Scaturro does well in his reconsideration. Now modern scholars are individually evaluating Grant's Presidency rather than relying on traditional Presidential polls that have given Grant low rankings. Since Scaturro's publication in 1998, extensive biographies of President Grant have been written by such notable historians as 2002 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography Jean Edward Smith, Grant, Josiah H Bunting III, Ulysses S. Grant: The American Presidents Series: The 18th President and most recently H.W. Brands, The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace. These venerable historians have indeed reconsidered Grant's presidency and like Scaturro have reached a much more favorable opinion than early twentieth century works.
Civil rights record
Grant proactively used military and Justice Department enforcement of civil rights laws and the protection of African Americans more than any other President. He used his full powers to weaken the Ku Klux Klan, reducing violence and intimidation in the South. He appointed James Milton Turner as the first African American minister to a foreign nation. Grant's relationship with Charles Sumner, the leader in promoting civil rights, was shattered by the Senator's opposition to Grant's plan to acquire Santo Domingo by treaty. Grant retaliated, firing men Sumner had recommended and having allies strip Sumner of his chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee. Sumner joined the Liberal Republican movement in 1872 to fight Grant's reelection.
Grant's presidency was committed to treat Native Americans as individual wards of the state under a "peace" policy and encouraged their citizenship. Native Americans were eventually given full U.S. citizenship in 1924 under the Indian Citizenship Act signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge. Grant signed the Civil Rights Act of 1875. In his sixth message to Congress, he summed up his own views, "While I remain Executive all the laws of Congress and the provisions of the Constitution ... will be enforced with rigor ... Treat the Negro as a citizen and a voter, as he is and must remain ... Then we shall have no complaint of sectional interference." In the pursued equal justice for all category from the 2009 CSPAN Presidential rating survey Grant scored a 9 getting into the top ten.
- There was no official act of Congress to end Reconstruction. President Elect Rutherford B. Hayes met Democratic political leaders at the Wormley Hotel on February 26, 1877. No record was kept at this meeting, however, Hayes pledged to withdraw troops from Reconstruction states; withhold federal support from Republican governments in South Carolina and Louisiana; and allow Democrats to resume control of these states. This was known as the Compromise of 1877. Although President Grant did not attend the meeting, he ordered that troops be removed from Florida before Hayes was inaugurated on March 4, 1877.
- From the years 1850 to 1890, the Trans-Mississippi West was in a state of constant turmoil. The West was a place of violence; during this time period there were 675 recorded battles between American Indian tribes, federal forces, and settlers. American Indian casualties were 69% versus 31% for military personnel and settlers combined. Statistical analysis revealed of these 675 battles American Indians had 201 wins, the federal militia and civilian forces had 419 wins, while 55 battles were draws.
- During the peace negotiations between Brig. Gen. Edward Canby and the Modoc tribal leaders, there were more Indians in the tent then had been agreed upon. As the Indians grew more hostile, Captain Jack, said "I talk no more." and shouted "All ready." Captain Jack drew his revolver and fired directly into the head of Gen Canby. Brig. Gen Canby was the highest ranking officer to be killed during the Indian Wars that took place from 1850 to 1890. Alfred Meacham, who survived the massacre, defended the Modocs who were put on trial.
- Congress had changed the law in 1866 to eliminate one seat on the Court each time a justice retired, to prevent Andrew Johnson from nominating replacements for them. When Grant took office, there were eight seats on the bench.
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- Rives, Timothy (Fall 2000). "Grant, Babcock, and the Whiskey Ring". Prologue 32 (3). Retrieved January 18, 2010.
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- Simon, John Y. (2002). "Ulysses S. Grant". In Graff, Henry. The Presidents: A Reference History (7th ed.). pp. 245–260.
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By title (anonymous)
- "C-SPAN 2009 Historians Presidential Leadership Survey". C-SPAN.org. 2009. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
- "Crédit Mobilier – Credit Mobilier of America". Encyclopedia Americana 8. Encyclopedia Americana Corp. 1918. p. 173. Retrieved January 30, 2010.
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- "South Carolina Governor Robert Kingston Scott". National Governors Association. Retrieved January 30, 2010.
- Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (March 11, 2009). "Ulysses S. Grant is Remembered as a Champion of Civil Rights". Moline (Illinois) Dispatch/Rock Island Argus. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
- "The USConstitution.net Timeline". U.S. Constitution Online. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
- "The Whiskey Ring". PoliticalCorruption.net. February 9, 2009. Retrieved January 30, 2010.
- "The American Presidency Project Election of 1876". Retrieved 2010-04-21.
- Ulysses S. Grant Memoirs and Selected Letters. The Library of America. 1990. ISBN 0-940450-58-5. The source information was taken from the Chronology section in the book.
- "Amnesty and Civil Rights" (PDF). The New York Times. May 23, 1872.
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- "The Conduct of the Finances". The New York Times. July 17, 1872.
- "The Emma Mine Scandal" (PDF). The New York Times. March 4, 1876.
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- E.G.D. (October 9, 1893). "The Pantaloon of the Senate: A Reminiscence of the Emma Mine Scandal". The New York Times.
- Ackerman, Kenneth D. (2011). The Gold Ring Jim Fisk, Jay Gould, and Black Friday, 1869. Falls Church, Virginia: Viral History Press, Inc. ISBN 978-1-61945-013-4.
- Brands, H. W. (2012). The Man Who Saved The Union Ulysses S. Grant in War and Peace. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-53241-5. major scholarly biography
- Brands, H. W. (December 2012). "Presidents in Crisis: Grant Takes on the Klan". American History: 42–47.
- Buenker, John D. and Joseph Buenker, eds. Encyclopedia of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (2005). 1256 pp. in three volumes. 900 essays by 200 scholars
- Donald, David Herbert. Charles Sumner and the Rights of Man (1970), Pulitzer Prize–winning biography of Grant's enemy in the Senate
- Fitzgerald, Michael W. Splendid Failure: Postwar Reconstruction in the American South. (2007) 234 pp. ISBN 978-1-56663-734-3
- Foner, Eric. Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877 (1988) Pulitzer Prize–winning synthesis from neoabolitionist perspective
- Graber, Jennifer. "“If a War It May Be Called” The Peace Policy with American Indians." Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation (2014) 24#1 pp: 36-69.
- Hesseltine, William B. (1957) . Ulysses S. Grant: Politician. New York: F. Ungar Pub. Co. ISBN 1-931313-85-7. major scholarly biography
- Kohn, George C. (2000). The New Encyclopedia of American Scandal. New York: Facts On File, Inc. ISBN 0-8160-4420-1.
- Lucibello, Alan. (2014) "Panic of 1873." in Daniel Leab, ed. Encyclopedia of American Recessions and Depressions. ABC-CLIO. pp 227-76
- McCullough, Stephen. "Avoiding war: the foreign Policy of Ulysses S. Grant and Hamilton Fish." in Edward O. Frantz, ed., A Companion to the Reconstruction Presidents 1865-1881 (2014): 311+
- McFeely, William S. (1981). Grant: A Biography. Norton. ISBN 0-393-01372-3., major scholarly biography
- McFeely, William S. (1974). Woodward, C. Vann, ed. Responses of the Presidents to Charges of Misconduct. New York, New York: Delacorte Press. pp. 133–162. ISBN 0-440-05923-2.
- Mantell, Martin E. Johnson, Grant, and the Politics of Reconstruction (1973) online edition
- Nevins, Allan (1936). Hamilton Fish: The Inner History of the Grant Administration 2. New York: Dodd, Mead. ASIN B00085BDXU.
- Patrick, Rembert W. (1968). The Reconstruction of the Nation. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-195-01016-7.
- Paxson, Frederic Logan; Bach, Christian A. (1931). "Ulysses S. Grant". Dictionary of American Biography VII. New York: C. Scribner's Sons. pp. 492–501.
- Perret, Geoffrey. Ulysses S. Grant: Soldier & President (2009). popular biography
- Priest, Andrew. "Thinking about Empire: The Administration of Ulysses S. Grant, Spanish Colonialism and the Ten Years' War in Cuba." Journal of American Studies (2014) 48#2 pp: 541-558.
- Rable, George C. (2007). But There Was No Peace: The Role of Violence in the Politics of Reconstruction. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press. ISBN 0-820-33011-6.
- Simon, John Y. (2002). "Ulysses S. Grant". In Graff, Henry. The Presidents: A Reference History (7th ed.). pp. 245–260. ISBN 0-684-80551-0.
- Simpson, Brooks D. The Reconstruction Presidents (1998)
- Skidmore, Max J. "The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant: a Reconsideration." White House Studies 2005 5(2): 255–270, favorable assessment
- Smith, Jean Edward (2001). Grant. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-84927-5. major scholarly biography
- Summers, Mark Wahlgren. The Ordeal of the Reunion: A New History of Reconstruction (2014) text search
- Tatum, Lawrie. Our Red Brothers and the Peace Policy of President Ulysses S. Grant (2010)
- Thompson, Margaret S. The "Spider Web": Congress and Lobbying in the Age of Grant (1985)
- Trefousse, Hans L. Historical Dictionary of Reconstruction Greenwood (1991), 250 entries
- Waltmann, Henry G. (Winter 1971). "Circumstantial Reformer: President Grant & the Indian Problem". Arizona and the West 13 (4): 323–342. JSTOR 40168089.
- Weinstein, Allen (1967). "Was There a 'Crime of 1873'?: The Case of the Demonetized Dollar". Journal of American History 54 (2): 307–326. JSTOR 1894808.
- Williams, Frank J. "Grant and Heroic Leadership." in Edward O. Frantz, ed., A Companion to the Reconstruction Presidents 1865-1881 (2014): 343-352.
- Woodward, C. Vann (April 1957). "The Lowest Ebb". American Heritage 8 (3): 53–108.
- Woodward, C. Vann. ed. Responses of the Presidents to Charges of Misconduct (1974), essays by historians on each administration from George Washington to Lyndon Johnson.
- Woodward, C. Vann. Reunion and Reaction (1950) on bargain of 1877
- Simon, John Y., ed., The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, Southern Illinois University Press (1967–2009 ) complete in 31 volumes
- Online version vol 1–31; vol 19–28 (1994–2005) cover the presidential years; includes all known letters and writing by Grant, and the most important letters written to him.
- Richardson, James, ed. Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents (numerous editions, 1901–20), vol 7 contains most of Grant's official presidential public documents and messages to Congress
- 1869 State of the Union Message – Ulysses S. Grant
- 1870 State of the Union Message – Ulysses S. Grant
- 1871 State of the Union Message – Ulysses S. Grant
- 1872 State of the Union Message – Ulysses S. Grant
- 1873 State of the Union Message – Ulysses S. Grant
- 1874 State of the Union Message – Ulysses S. Grant
- 1875 State of the Union Message – Ulysses S. Grant
- 1876 State of the Union Message – Ulysses S. Grant
- 1869 Inaugural Address – Ulysses S. Grant
- 1873 Inaugural Address – Ulysses S. Grant
- Hackett, Frank Warren (1911). "Chapter III: The Alabama Claims – The Treaty of Washington". Reminiscences of the Geneva Tribunal of Arbitration, 1872, the Alabama Claims. New York City: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 45–50. OCLC 2621753. Retrieved January 30, 2010.
- McPherson, Edward (1880) [First published 1871]. "Chapter LIII: XVth Amendment, Votes on Ratification, Proclamation of Ratification, Bills Enforcing and Votes Thereon". The Political History of the United States of America During the Period of Reconstruction. Washington, D.C.: Chapman. p. 545. ISBN 1-4255-6744-4. OCLC 492311406. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
- Sumner, Charles (1872). Republicanism vs. Grantism (Speech made by Charles Sumner to the United States Senate on May 31, 1872). Washington, D.C.: F. J. Rives and George A. Bailey. ISBN 978-1-120-69167-5. OCLC 504005622. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
- Young, John Russell (July–October 1880). "Around the World with General Grant". Quarterly Review (New York City: Leonard Scott Publishing Company) 150 (126): 126. Retrieved April 10, 2010.
- New York State Legislature (April 5, 1894). Proceedings of the Legislature of the State of New York in memory of Honorable Hamilton Fish. Albany, New York: J. B. Lyon, printer. pp. 54–57. Retrieved April 19, 2010.
- American Annual Cyclopedia...1868 (1869), online, highly detailed compendium of facts and primary sources
- American Annual Cyclopedia...for 1869 (1870), large compendium of facts, thorough national coverage; includes also many primary documents online edition
- Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia...for 1870 (1871)
- American Annual Cyclopedia...for 1872 (1873)
- Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia...for 1873 (1879) online edition
- Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia...for 1875 (1877)
- Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia ...for 1876 (1885) online edition
- Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia...for 1877 (1878)
- Media related to Ulysses S. Grant at Wikimedia Commons
- Quotations related to Ulysses S. Grant at Wikiquote
- Works related to Ulysses S. Grant at Wikisource
- Extensive essay on Ulysses S. Grant and shorter essays on each member of his cabinet from the Miller Center of Public Affairs, U. of Virginia