10. Grant narrowly missed Lincoln’s assassination
Grant had been invited to go to Ford theater with President Lincoln but he and his wife Julia decided to travel to New Jersey to visit their children instead. Had he attended, he may have been a target as well.
9. Both of Grant’s parents witnessed his presidency
It may not seem like a big deal today, but Ulysses Grant was the first president to have both his parents living as he entered office.
8. Grant couldn’t stand the sight of blood
Although he witnessed some of the bloodiest battles in history, Grant could not stand the sight of blood. Rare steak nauseated him and he was known to cook his meat to the point of charring.
7. Grant graduated from West Point
Grant was one of only three presidents to graduate from a military academy. He graduated from West Point in 1843.
6. Grant was a cigar lover
Grant used around seven to ten cigars a day, although many of them he did not smoke, chewing on them instead. After a reporter wrote that Grant liked cigars, people began to send them to him as gifts. He received over 20,000, which may have contributed to his throat cancer.
5. Grant made a deal with Mark Twain
After his presidency, Grant lost all his savings to a shady investment partner, leaving his family with nearly nothing. At the time, presidents were not given pensions and Grant had already forfeited his military pension when he became president. Mark Twain offered Grant a generous deal to write his memoirs and while terminally ill with cancer, Grant finished just days before his death. The memoirs sold over 300,000 copies and earned his family over $450,000. In 1958, Congress passed legislation establishing a pension for presidents.
4. Grant’s Tomb is record setting
The body of Ulysses S. Grant lies in Riverside Park in New York City. He is buried beside his wife in Grant’s Tomb, the largest mausoleum in North America.
3. Ulysses S. Grant is not his real name
President Grant’s real name was Hiram Ulysses Grant. At the age of 17, he secured a nomination to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point through his Congressman, Thomas Hamer. Apparently confused with Grant’s mothers maiden name of Simpson, Hamer mistakenly nominated him as Ulysses S. Grant. The academy would not accept any name other than what was on the nomination form so Grant adopted the new name as his own. Contrary to what some may believe, the S. does not stand for anything at all.
2. Grant was a compassionate man
When Grant accepted the surrender of Confederate forces by his rival Robert E. Lee in April 1865, he generously allowed Confederate soldiers to retain their weapons and horses and return to their homes.
Grant’s wife’s family were slave owners and Grant himself owned a slave named William Jones, given to him by his father-in-law. At a time when Grant could have badly used the money from selling Jones, he signed a document that freed him instead.
1. Grant liked life in the fast lane
As president, Grant received a speeding ticket by a police officer who failed to recognize him. He was fined for driving his horse too fast through the streets of D.C.