HistoryUlysses S. Grant

Presidency and Policies of Ulysses S. Grant

portrait of Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant was the fifth general elected as president. He had sworn to Justice Salmon P. Chase on March 4, 1869, as the eighteenth president of the United States of America after defeating Democrat Horatio Seymour in 1868 Presidential election. He was the next president who served for two terms after Andrew Jackson.

He inherited the United States under the Reconstruction Era. Ulysses S. Grant surprised the nation with his cabinet. He appointed Elihu B. Washburne as his Secretary of State and be then commissioned as Minister to France after his brief service in the office. He even chose a wealthy New York Merchant and former New York governor, Hamilton Fish, as the Secretary of Treasury. Fish was then disqualified because of his engagement in commerce. His close friend John A. Rawlins was appointed as Secretary of War, who died after serving for only a few months. William W. Belknap from Iowa replaced Rawlins.

Ulysses S. Grant sought to revise the Tenure of Office Act and its entirety. As a president, he declined new appointments except for vacant positions.

As he led the country during its most challenging time in American history, Ulysses S. Grant was determined to follow Abraham Lincoln’s peaceful reconciliation policy between the North and the South rather than appeasement or reckoning. He found it difficult to achieve his goals because most Americans still rejected the civil and political rights of black Americans. Ulysses was dawned with a unique challenge of actively protecting the newly freed slaves’ rights without alienating the American public.

On May 10, 1869, the transcontinental railroad was completed. The Union Pacific and Central Pacific joined together in Promontory Point, Utah. However, this endeavor caused the Panic of 1873 because of overinvestment in railroad construction, over-speculation in land and securities, and excessive paper money issuance. Two entrepreneurs, James Fisk, Jr. and Jay Gould, planned to corner the gold market and worked along with Ulysses Grant’s brother-in-law to frame and claim that in case the government refrains from selling gold, the value will increase and believe it would improve the depressed farm prices. On September 24, 1869, became popularly known as “Black Friday” due to financial depression in New York City after the price of gold crashed, and many investors were negatively affected. This gold plot was the first of many scandals during Ulysses Grant’s tenure in the office.

On November 29, 1869, the annexation of San Domingo, which is now known as the Dominican Republic, is considered one of Ulysses Grant’s failed initiative in foreign policy. The United States Navy has been very outright with their intentions in the Caribbean and wished to house its operation in Santo Domingo because of its suitable bay and strategic location. The president presented numerous treaties and persuaded senators and representatives to support him; in the end, the Senate blocked the annexation.

Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas was readmitted to the Union after completing its reconstruction.

The president signed a joint petition of Congress authorizing the secretary of war to establish a weather service under the supervision and operation of the United States Army Signal Service on February 9, 1870, which is now called the National Weather Service.

The fifteenth amendment was ratified on March 30, 1870. It stipulated the nation’s intent to protect black male suffrage and was partially successful; however, white continues to discriminate them with laws and taxes. The Women’s Suffrage led by Susan B. Anthony vented their grievance and laid the agenda for the women’s rights movement. They called for equal treatment of men and women under the law, including voting rights, but the argument of Victoria Woodhull was rejected.

Among the many racial issues during the Reconstruction Era, the Ku Klux Klan, organized in Pulaski, Tennessee, began terrorizing and exhibited brutal white supremacy towards the black member of Congress. Ulysses Grant eagerly prosecuted it.

On June 22, 1870, the president signed the act to establish the Department of Justice under an attorney general. It is responsible for enforcing the laws enacted by the Congress, administer the United States justice system, and safeguarding the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans are sustained.

A new tariff was passed on July 14, 1870, which aims to reduce the tax. During the tenure of Ulysses Grant, the economy was strong, and the national debt was reduced.

The Indian Appropriations Act of 1871 was one of the significant policies during Ulysses Grant’s presidency. It protected the Native Americans and embraced them as part of the state, instead of treating them as an independent tribe or power.

In March of 1871, Ulysses Grant approved the United States Civil Service reform legislation and was passed by the Congress and was funded until 1874; however, President Grant’s successor, Rutherford B. Hayes’ efforts to renew the funding was not granted.

The Treaty of Washington between the United States and Britain settled the Alabama claims, and the United States demands the damages caused by Britain in American shipping during the Civil War. It was inflicted by Confederate vessels, which was built and equipped in England. The treaty also renewed the Canadian-American fishing arrangements.

The Naturalization Act extended the naturalization rights and was enjoyed by white immigrants; however, it denies all groups of non-white such as Asians.

Federal holidays were created in 1870. The workers are granted paid time off during New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. After a decade, the birthday of George Washington was also included as a national holiday.

Ulysses S. Grant was reelected on November 5, 1872. He received 55.6 percent of the popular vote, and clearly, the result shows the people’s dislike over Liberal Republican Horace Greeley. Ulysses’ second term was riddled with corruption and wrapped by the panic of 1873.

Before the second inauguration of Ulysses Grant, The New York Sun exposed the CréditMobilier Scandal on February 27, 1873. CréditMobilier was a fraudulent construction company commissioned to build the Union Pacific Railroad. Soon, Representative Oakes Ames from Massachusetts sold his shares and bargained with other politicians to benefit.

On January 20, 1874, the controversial Salary Grab Act specified a fifty percent salary increase for the president and other members of the Congress at the beginning of their term. It resulted in the Republicans’ loss of their seat. The Democrats benefited for the midterm election as they gained seats in the Senate and most of the House.

On January 10, 1875, The Hawaiian Reciprocity Treaty was signed and made the islands a virtual protectorate of the United States, including trade powers to Hawaii. It also refrains the island from providing any territory to a third power.

Then, on January 14, 1875, the Specie Resumption Act was approved and aimed to restore the nation’s gold standard by redeeming the previously-decrepit United States notes.

The Whiskey Ring Scandal was exposed on May 10, 1875, t. It involves an extensive network of conspiring distillers, politicians, storekeepers, etc. with the Treasury Department officials to defraud the government with millions of dollars’ worth of taxes. Distillers bribed Treasury officials to dodge the taxes.

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