Monday, February 20, 2012

Ulysses S. Grant Research Paper

Research Paper on Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant, born on April 27, 1822 was an American general and the eighteenth President of the United States. His presidency lasted for eight years from the year 1869 till the year 1877. Ulysses Grant was loved by the people and achieved his great fame and acceptance as the brave general who lead the Union during the years of the American Civil War. Grant was also known for leading radical reconstruction in the country and even succeeded in maintaining a strong and powerful Republican party in the democratic South (American Presidents). In my short paper, however, I will not present the biography of this famous president. I would like to describe the photo of Ulysses Grant taken in 1885.

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In fact, this photo that was taken of him in July 1885 at Mount McGregor was the last one, because on July 23rd, Grant passed away. When looking at the photo we see an elderly man, holding some paperwork in his hands. The man looks aged and weary, however, Grant was only sixty-three years old at the time. It can also be seen at the picture that Grant is struggling with some kind of sickness as well it is obvious that he is driven by some idea that he had been ruminating about for a long time.
The description of the picture I have just presented was the first-glance impression. Indeed, having complete a research about Ulysses Grant I found explanations to why the photographer found him in that state on July 13th, 1885. Lower I would like to describe you the life of Ulysses Grant peculiarly in the year 1885 as well as couple of years before.

After serving his second and last term as the President of the United States, Grant and his wife made a journey around the world. Upon return to America Grants purchased a house in New York City. It is important to say that at that point Ulysses Gran located almost all of his financial assets into a partnership with Ferdinand Ward. Ward was suggested to Grant by Grant's son Buck, who was successful on Wall Street. In 1884 the disaster came - his son’s partner lost all the company’s money and fled from the country. The company was declared bankrupt and the former President and general was broke (American Presidents).

Today the politicians receive gigantic sums of money when serving and after completion of the service in the White House. In 1880s the situation was totally different. At the time retired U.S. Presidents were not provided with perpetual pensions, thus Grant and his family literally had no money for existence.  The family had to gradually sell off their possessions, including even White Haven, and other properties (Goldhurst, p. 23). However, the money received could not cover the debts that had to be paid. Grant had to transfer various household and personal items, among them all the awards for his Civil War accomplishments, into cash. Of course, such state of thing brought Ulysses Grant to a severe depression. His greatest concern was that he had no inheritance for his family (Goldhurst).

It was just about that time when Grant learned that he was suffering from throat cancer. He had been a smoker his whole life and at that time the smoking had caught up with him. Such discovery could disarm anyone, however Ulysses Grant pulled himself together, surmounting great pain, and put all of his efforts into finding a way to earn the living for his family. For this purpose Grant accepted an offer from Century Magazine to write articles about his experiences in the Civil War. To his surprise he saw that he enjoyed writing and chose it to be the source of income for him. His plan was to write memoirs (Goldhurst).

The task of writing consumed Grant completely because he knew that he would not last for a long time and he was eager to finish the memoirs and receive the revenues as soon as possible. He hoped his memoirs could provide for his family for the long years to come. According to John Simon, who has written Grant’s biography, Grant’s memoirs were honest. He was not ashamed to admit his mistakes, his purpose was not to show himself off, but to rather analyze the past (Simon). He was fully involved in the writing process, however, the fetal illness did not retreat.

As the time passed by, Grant lost his voice, as well as his hands started to shake. According to John Simon, as Grant had lost his voice because of the cancer and could not dictate the text anymore, he would on his porch with pencil and paper, covered with blankets and “in fearsome pain, slowly scrawling out his life’s epic tale” (Simon). The picture that we see in front of us, has, probably, captured, one of these moments of struggle and anguish.

In spite of his destructing and excruciating illness Grant managed to finish the memoirs. In fact, he finished them just a few days before his death. Grant had not been alive to find this out, but his book had earned Grant family almost half a million dollars, in fact, around 300,000 copies of the book were sold. Now, taking a look at the picture again, it becomes clear to us, why Ulysses Grant looks so distant, tired and weary. Now, we understand that the man in the photo, taken in 1885, is dying of a fatal illness, which, however, did not stop him from fluffing his dreams (Goldhurst).
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