The presidency of Ulysses S. Grant began on March 4, 1869, when Ulysses S. Grant was inaugurated as the 18th President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1877. Grant took office in the aftermath of the Civil War, and he presided over much of the Reconstruction Era. A Republican, Grant became president after defeating Democrat Horatio Seymour in the 1868 presidential election. He was reelected in 1872 in a landslide victory, overcoming a split in the Republican Party that resulted in the formation of the Liberal Republicans, which nominated Horace Greeley to oppose him. He was succeeded as president by Republican Rutherford B. Hayes after the contested 1876 presidential election.
Reconstruction after the Civil War took precedence during Grant's first term of office. By 1870, all former Confederate states had been readmitted into the United States and were represented in Congress, but the federal government remained active in the South to protect the rights of former slaves. Congress crafted three powerful Enforcement Acts to suppress violence by the insurgent Ku Klux Klan, and established the Department of Justice and the Office of Solicitor General. These actions bolstered the Grant Administration's ability to carry out and enforce federal laws, particularly those that protected the civil and political rights of . The new Justice Department prosecuted thousands of Ku Klux Klan members under the strict new laws, and Grant signed the Second Enforcement Act of 1871 into law, which made the KKK an illegal terrorist organization. Grant also supported passage of the Fifteenth Amendment (ratified on February 3, 1870, the third and last of the Reconstruction Amendments), which prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the Suffrage based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude". Rather than develop a cadre of trustworthy political advisers, Grant was self-reliant 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. Numerous scandals plagued his administration, including allegations of bribery, fraud, and cronyism. In 1872, Grant signed into law an Act of Congress that established Yellowstone National Park, the nation's first National Park.
At the beginning of Grant's second term, the nation was prosperous, the national debt, government spending, tariffs, and the federal workforce were reduced, and there was an increase in tax revenues. Congress established a de facto deflationary gold standard that reduced the number of greenbacks in the national economy. However, the Panic of 1873 rocked the nation and destroyed much of the economic advancements made in Grant's first term. The Panic caused a severe nationwide economic depression and turned public opinion against Grant. As a result, Democrats regained control of the House in the 1874 elections. Corruption scandals escalated, though reformers appointed by Grant were able to clean up some federal departments. Most notably, Secretary of the Treasury Benjamin Bristow prosecuted the Whiskey Ring, leading to the indictment of Grant's personal secretary, Orville E. Babcock. Secretary of War William W. Belknap resigned in disgrace in February 1876 after he was impeached by the House for taking kickbacks. Grant continued to support Reconstruction, and he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which banned discrimination in public accommodations. However, by the end of Grant's presidency, white Southern Democrats, called Redeemers by their supporters, had regained political control of state governments, often through killings and other physical violence, fraud, and the suppression of black voters.
The United States was at peace with the world throughout Grant's eight years in office, but his handling of foreign policy was uneven. Tensions with Native American tribes in the West continued. Under the talented Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, the Treaty of Washington restored relations with Britain and resolved the contentious Alabama Claims, while the Virginius Affair with Spain was settled peacefully. Grant attempted to annex the Caribbean island of Santo Domingo, but the annexation was blocked by the Senate.
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 pursued a "peace policy" with Native Americans, but persistent western expansion by settlers made conflict difficult to avoid. Grant presided over the Great Sioux War of 1876 and other clashes with the Native Americans. Grant's presidency was long denounced by historians as the most corrupt in U.S. history. His presidential reputation has gradually risen over the past few decades among historians who have noted that Grant advanced Indian policy, African American civil rights, and Civil Service reform.
Grant accepted the Republican nomination out of duty, while his preference was to remain in the army. In an 1868 letter to his close friend William T. Sherman, Grant said:
Grant's acceptance letter called out, "Let us have peace", which captured the imagination of the American people. Historian Brooks Simpson says these four simple words expressed the "innermost desires of many Americans," explaining:
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 proposed 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.
Democrats, ignoring the politically damaged incumbent president, Andrew Johnson, who had returned to the party, nominated Horatio Seymour for the presidency, along with Francis P. Blair as his running mate. Seymour was a wealthy conservative who was criticized by the GOP 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. Neither candidate actively campaigned, as was the custom at the time. Grant issued a public 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 an overwhelming Electoral College victory, receiving 214 votes to Seymour's 80. Grant also received 52.7 percent of the popular vote nationwide. His margin of victory was enhanced by the fact that six southern states were controlled by Republicans and many ex-Confederates were still prevented from voting.
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. 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." Grant was criticized for appointing many family members or friends considered unqualified to highly sought government posts.
Most historians in the 21st century consider Reconstruction ended in failure and the north had given up on protecting the civil rights of African Americans. However, historian Mark Summers in 2014 has argued that:
Other matters during Reconstruction concerned polygamy, women's suffrage, anti-obscenity, and federal establishment of Holidays.
On January 13, 1871, Grant submitted to Congress a report on violent acts committed by the Ku Klux Klan in the South. On March 20, 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." 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 ". 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.National Governors Association. 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. Benjamin Bristow. With the Klan destroyed other white supremacist groups would emerge, including the White League and the Red Shirts.
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 unpardonable and therefore forbidden to hold elected public office.
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 abhorrent for a Nation to indulge in 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.
In 1869, Grant appointed his aide General Ely S. Parker, a Seneca people, 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 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 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 statutes.
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.
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 Marias Massacre 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.Utley 1984a, pp. 127–133.Prucha 1984, pp. 501–503. A core policy was to put the western reservations under the control of religious denominations. In 1872, the implementation of the policy involved the allotting of Indian reservations to religious organizations as exclusive religious domains. Of the 73 agencies assigned, the Methodists received fourteen; the Orthodox Quakers ten; the Presbyterians nine; the Episcopalians eight; the Roman Catholics seven; the Hicksite Quakers six; the Baptists five; the Dutch Reformed five; the Congregationalists three; Christians two; Unitarianism two; American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions one; and Lutherans one. The distribution caused immediate dissatisfaction among many groups who claimed that they had been slighted or overlooked. The selection criteria were vague and some critics saw the Peace Policy as violating Native American freedom of religion. Among the Roman Catholics, this dissatisfaction led to the establishment of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions in 1874. The Peace Policy remained in force until 1881, when the government heeded the protests of religious organizations whose missionaries had been removed from reservations on which they had not been assigned.Francis Paul Prucha, American Indian Policy in Crisis, Christian Reformers and the Indian, 1865–1900 (2014) pp 30–71. Quakers or Protestant clergy predominantly controlled most of the central and southern Indian Territory, while all other surrounding territories were under the control of appointed military officers.Utley (1973), Frontier Regulars: the United States Army and the Indian, 1866–1891, page 190; Wooster (1988), The Military and United States Indian Policy, 1865–1903, page 151
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.Grant (1869), Respecting Wages of labor, Executive Order
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. The New York Times 1872, "The Conduct of the Finances".
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. Grant removed Pleasonton before any potential scandal broke out.Boutwell 2008, pp. 131–133.
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.David Donald, Charles Sumner and the Rights of Man (1970) p 442—43 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.Simon (1995), The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, p. xxi 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 Douglass 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.Chamberlain (1902), pp. 7, 8 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.David Donald, Charles Sumner and the Rights of Man (1970) p 446—47Nevins 1957, ch. 12
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 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.
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.Nevins 1957, ch. 22–23. On October 21, 1872, William I, Emperor of Germany, settled a boundary dispute in favor of the United States.
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. 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.
In 1872, around two thousand white buffalo hunters working between Wichita, Kansas, and Arkansas were killing American bison 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 advice from Secretary Delano, Grant chose to pocket-veto the bill, believing that the demise of the buffalo would reduce Indian wars and force tribes to stay on their respected reservations and to adopt an agricultural lifestyle rather than roaming the plains and hunting buffalo. Ranchers wanted the buffalo gone 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.Kennedy (2001), " The Last Buffalo"Simon (2003) Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, Volume 25, 1874, pp. 411–412 By the 1880s buffalo herds dwindled to only a few hundred, a majority found mostly in Yellowstone National Park. As the Indian wars ended, Congress appropriated money and enforcement legislation in 1894, signed into law by President Grover Cleveland, that protected and preserved buffalo and other wildlife 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 Wilderness Society (February 16, 2015) Happy Presidents’ Day: 12 of our greatest White House conservationists
Grant was the first president to recommend a professional civil service. He 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, applicants for an entry position now had to pass a written 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.Howe (1935), p. 48, 295 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 labeled 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:
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.Nevins 1957, p. 710. Grant believed in loyalty to his friends, as one writer called it the "Chivalry of Friendship".
During Grant's first term a significant number of Republicans had become completely disillusioned with the party. Weary of the scandals and opposed to several of Grant's policies, split from the party to form the Liberal Republican Party. At the party's only national convention, held in May 1872 New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley was nominated for president, and Benjamin Gratz Brown was nominated for vice president. They advocated civil service reform, a low tariff, and granting amnesty to former Confederate soldiers. They also wanted to end reconstruction and restore local self-government in the South.
The Democrats, who at this time had no strong candidate choice of their own, saw an opportunity to consolidate the anti-Grant vote and jumped on the Greeley bandwagon, reluctantly adopting Greeley and Brown as their nominees.Rhodes 1906, v. 7. It is the only time in American history when a major party endorsed the candidate of a third party.
While Grant, like incumbent presidents before him, did not campaign, an efficient party organization composed of thousands of patronage appointees, did so on his behalf. Frederick Douglass supported Grant and reminded black voters that Grant had destroyed the violent Ku Klux Klan.Stauffer (2008), Giants, pp. 308, 309 Greeley embarked on a five-state campaign tour in late September, during which he delivered nearly 200 speeches. His campaign was plagued by misstatements and embarrassing moments.
However, because of political infighting between Liberal Republicans and Democrats, and due to several campaign blunders, the physically ailing Greeley was no match for Grant, who won in a landslide. Grant won 286 of the 352 Electoral College votes, and received 55.8 percent of the popular vote nationwide. The President's reelection victory also brought an overwhelming Republican majority into both houses of Congress. Heartbroken after a hard-fought political campaign, Greeley died a few weeks after the election. Out of respect for Greeley, Grant attended his funeral.
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.
Polygamy, Chinese prostitution, support of Jewish people, and secular education were also issues during Reconstruction.
Grant Parish.Lane 2008, p. 124.
A few months later in early 1875, Grant announced that Brooks had been legitimately elected back in 1872. Grant did not send in troops, and Brooks never regained office. Instead, Grant appointed him to the high-paying patronage job of US postmaster in Little Rock. Grant's legalistic approach Did resolve the conflict peacefully, but it left the Republican Party in Arkansas in total disarray, and further discredited grants reputation.Charles W. Calhoun, Conceiving a New Republic: The Republican Party and the Southern Question, 1869–1900 (2006) p 56.Nevins, (1957), pp. 758–760.
On December 7, 1874, Crosby and an African-American militia approached Vicksburg. He had said that the Whites were, "ruffians, barbarians, and political banditti". A series of confrontations occurred against white paramilitary forces that resulted in the deaths of 29 African Americans and 2 Whites. The White militia retained control of the County Court House and jail.
On December 21, Grant issued a Presidential Proclamation for the people in Vicksburg to stop fighting. General Philip Sheridan, based in Louisiana for this regional territory, dispatched federal troops, who reinstated Crosby as sheriff and restored the peace. When questioned about the matter, Governor Ames denied that 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 of the shooting remained a mystery.
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 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 Statehouse 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.
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 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.
Grant also denounced the immigration of Chinese women into the United States for the purposes of prostitution, saying that it was "no less an evil" than polygamy.
Eager to prove that he was above prejudice, Grant appointed more Jews to public office than had any of his predecessors and, in the name of human rights, he extended unprecedented support to persecuted Jews in Russia and Romania. Time and again, partly as a result of this enlarged vision of what it meant to be an American and partly in order to live down General Orders No. 11, Grant consciously worked to assist Jews and secure them equality. ... Through his appointments and policies, Grant rejected calls for a 'Christian nation' and embraced Jews as insiders in America, part of 'we the people.' During his administration, Jews achieved heightened status on the national scene, anti-Jewish prejudice declined, and Jews looked forward optimistically to a liberal epoch characterized by sensitivity to human rights and interreligious cooperation.Jonathan D. Sarna, When General Grant Expelled the Jews (2012), Introduction
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. Two months after Custer's death Grant castigated him 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.
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 strict 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 steamboat 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.
The ongoing destruction of pro-black Reconstruction policies in the South was one of the main reasons for the shift in that region.for Texas see Historian James Ford Rhodes explored the multiple causes of the results in the North:
Grant laid out his agenda for "good common school education." He attacked government support for "sectarian schools" run by religious organizations, and called for the defense of public education "unmixed with sectarian, pagan or atheistical dogmas." Grant declared that "Church and State" should be "forever separate." Religion, he said, should be left to families, churches, and private schools devoid of public funds.Deforrest (2003)
After Grant's speech Republican Congressman James G. Blaine (1830-1893) proposed the amendment to the federal Constitution. Blaine, who actively sought Catholic votes when he ran for president in 1884, believed that possibility of hurtful agitation on the school question should be ended. In 1875, the proposed amendment passed by a vote of 180 to 7 in the House of Representatives, but failed by four votes to achieve the necessary two-thirds vote in the Senate. Nothing like it ever became federal legislation. However many states did adopt similar amendments to their state constitution.
The proposed Blaine Amendment text was:
Delano's son, John Delano, and Ulysses S. Grant's own brother, Orvil Grant, were discovered to have been awarded lucrative corrupt cartographical contracts by Surveyor General Silas Reed. Neither John Delano nor Orvil Grant performed any work or were qualified to hold such surveying positions. Massive fraud was also found in the Patent Office with corrupt clerks who embezzled from the government payroll. Under increasing pressure by the press and Indian reformers, Delano resigned from office on October 15, 1875. Grant then appointed Zachariah Chandler as Secretary of the Interior who replaced Delano. 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.Pierson 1880, pp. 343–345. Chandler cleaned up the Patent Office by firing all the corrupt clerks.Salinger 2005, pp. 374–375.McFeeley 1981, pp.430–431Pierson 1880, pp.343–345
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. 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.Woodward 1957. 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.Nevins 1957, p. 833.
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. 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.Simon 1997, pp. 258–259. 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.Skidmore, pp. 150–151
The 20th century historical views of Grant were less favorable. Political analyst Michael Barone noted in 1998 that, "Ulysses S. Grant is universally ranked among the greatest American generals, and his Memoirs are widely considered to belong with the best military autobiographies ever written. But he is inevitably named, by conservatives as well as liberals, as one of the worst presidents in American history."Michael Barone, "A Better President Than They Think," The Weekly Standard (Aug. 3, 1998). Barone argues that:"This consensus, however, is being challenged by writers outside the professional historians' guild." Barone points to lawyer Frank Scaturro, who led the movement to restore Grant's Tomb while only a college student, and in 1998 wrote the first book of the modern era which portrays Grant's presidency in a positive light.
In the 21st Century, Grant's reputation and ranking had significantly increased, that followed a series of positive biographies written by noted historians, that included Jean Edward Smith, Grant, H.W. Brands, The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace
In 1871, 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.
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.New York Times (November 11, 1871), Sec. Delano's Letter Relating to the Apaches 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. 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.Utley and Mackintosh, 1989. 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.
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.
Grant appointed four Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States during his presidency. When Grant took office, there were eight seats on the bench. Congress had passed a Judicial Circuits Act in 1866, which provided for the elimination of one seat on the Court each time a justice retired, to prevent Andrew Johnson from nominating replacements for them. In April 1869 Congress passed a Judiciary Act which fixed the size of the Supreme Court at nine.
Grant had the opportunity to fill two Supreme Court seats in 1869. His initial nominees were:
Grant had the opportunity to fill two more seats during his second term. To fill the first vacancy he nominated: