Once Again, Ulysses Grant

Before I read this book, I did not know much about General Grant because he was on the wrong side. So was my great grandfather, but his reason was that he was a German immigrant sometime in the later years of the War Between the States. In any event, I finished the book, Grant, by Ron Chernow and found Grant not only to be a great general, but also to be one of our best presidents.

He was elected president in 1868. In the defeated South, the first problem he dealt with was the action of many whites to put freed blacks in their “place”. Grant fought to give the former slave population equal rights in political life, and got three civil rights acts through Congressional action. He got the Ku Klux Klan declared illegal through Congress and used the army and civilian agents to enforce these laws. Unfortunately, discrimination and violence against black Americans continued in the South.

He moved on to get a civil service commission created. No longer would civil service employees have to fork over part of their salary to political parties to get and keep their jobs. While there were other struggles over civil service reform, Congressmen were unwilling to hand over to a civil service commission their ability to make appointments to federal jobs. Grant was the first president to get the federal government involved in putting unusual parts of land under federal control. (Republicans should take notice that their man began the federal park system.)

This is not the extent of his efforts to make the federal government work for the people, but it does demonstrate his belief that he was president of all the people. As industrialization changed, the federal government was required to manage this change in support of all the people. He tackled this problem just as he did when facing the Confederates.

This is but a small portion of the activities facing him as President. But, what I have come to see is Grant leading us to develop interaction between economics (industrialism) and government. I have also come to see him as one of our most powerful and effective national leaders.

  1. #1 by Marv on January 15, 2018 - 2:37 am

    Glad to have you back

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