If you’ve ever wondered who is on the 50-dollar bill, you’re not alone. The stoic portrait of our 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant, has been staring back at curious cash-carriers for over 100 years.
But why was Grant, a former general and two-term president, chosen for this high monetary honor? And what path led him from small-town obscurity to his eminent position on America’s currency?
This article will trace Grant’s rise to prominence, examine his presidency, and explain his enduring legacy as one of the most recognizable figures in U.S. history.
Grant’s Early Life and Career Before the Civil War
Ulysses S. Grant, the face on the $50 bill, had a fascinating life before his involvement in the Civil War. Let’s take a closer look at his early life and career.
Born in Ohio and Raised on the Western Frontier
Ulysses S. Grant was born on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio. He grew up in a modest family and had a relatively uneventful childhood. However, Grant’s upbringing on the western frontier helped shape his character and instilled in him a strong work ethic and sense of adventure.
Living on the frontier also exposed Grant to the harsh realities of life, including witnessing the mistreatment of Native Americans. These early experiences would later influence his policies as President and his commitment to civil rights.
Graduated from West Point and Served in the Mexican-American War
In 1839, Grant received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. While he initially had no aspirations of a military career, Grant excelled academically and graduated in 1843, ranking 21st out of 39 cadets.
Grant’s military service began during the Mexican-American War, where he demonstrated his leadership abilities and bravery. He received several promotions for his actions in battle, earning the respect of his superiors and fellow soldiers.
Married Julia Dent and Tried His Hand at Business and Farming
After the Mexican-American War, Grant married Julia Dent in 1848. The couple had four children together and enjoyed a strong and supportive marriage throughout their lives.
Following his military service, Grant struggled to find his footing in civilian life. He tried his hand at several business ventures, including farming and real estate, but ultimately found little success. These early failures would later motivate Grant to pursue a military career once again.
To learn more about Ulysses S. Grant and his significant contributions to American history, you can visit The White House’s official website.
Grant’s Leadership During the Civil War
Ulysses S. Grant, the face on the fifty-dollar bill, is renowned for his leadership during the American Civil War. As a Union General, Grant demonstrated exceptional military prowess and strategic thinking, playing a pivotal role in securing victory for the Union forces.
Excelled as a Union General, Winning Key Victories
Grant’s military career took off during the Civil War when he led the Union Army to several important victories. One of his most notable successes came at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862, where he displayed remarkable resilience and determination in the face of Confederate opposition.
Despite suffering heavy losses, Grant’s forces ultimately emerged victorious, dealing a significant blow to the Confederate Army.
In addition to the Battle of Shiloh, Grant’s leadership was instrumental in securing victories at Vicksburg and Chattanooga. The capture of Vicksburg, a crucial Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, gave the Union control over the waterway and effectively split the Confederacy in two.
The victory at Chattanooga paved the way for the Union’s successful Atlanta Campaign, which ultimately led to the Confederacy’s defeat.
Appointed Commander of the Union Armies by Lincoln
In recognition of his impressive military achievements, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Grant as the Commander of the Union Armies in 1864. This promotion solidified Grant’s authority and placed him in charge of all Union forces throughout the country.
Grant’s appointment as Commander-in-Chief allowed him to implement his strategic vision and coordinate the efforts of various Union generals. Under his leadership, the Union forces adopted a unified approach, which significantly contributed to the ultimate defeat of the Confederate Army.
Accepted Lee’s Surrender at Appomattox to End the War
One of the most significant moments in Grant’s military career came when he accepted the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. This event marked the official end of the Civil War and represented a major victory for the Union.
Grant’s magnanimous terms of surrender and his respectful treatment of Confederate soldiers demonstrated his commitment to reconciliation and healing the nation’s wounds. His actions set the stage for the process of reconstruction and paved the way for a reunified United States.
For more information on Ulysses S. Grant and his leadership during the Civil War, you can visit the Civil War Trust website.
Grant’s Presidency and Reconstruction Policies
Ulysses S. Grant, the face on the 50-dollar bill, served as the 18th President of the United States from 1869 to 1877. He played a significant role in shaping the nation during a crucial period of reconstruction following the Civil War.
Grant’s presidency was marked by both accomplishments and challenges.
Narrowly Elected President as a Republican in 1868
Grant’s political career began with his election as the President in 1868, narrowly defeating his Democratic opponent, Horatio Seymour. As a Republican, Grant was known for his military achievements during the Civil War, and his victory marked a turning point in American history.
His presidency was seen as a symbol of hope and stability for a nation recovering from the wounds of war.
Oversaw Reconstruction in the South and Protected Black Rights
One of the defining aspects of Grant’s presidency was his commitment to Reconstruction in the South. Grant believed in the importance of protecting the rights of newly freed African Americans and ensuring their inclusion in the political process.
He took measures to enforce civil rights laws and combat the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist group that sought to intimidate and oppress black Americans.
Grant’s administration also worked toward the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment, which granted voting rights to African-American men. This landmark achievement was a significant step towards equality and enfranchisement for black Americans.
Plagued by Scandals and the Panic of 1873 During His Second Term
Despite Grant’s efforts to promote equality and rebuild the nation, his second term was marred by scandals and economic challenges. The Grant administration faced allegations of corruption, most notably the “Whiskey Ring” scandal, which involved bribery and tax evasion within the whiskey industry.
Furthermore, the Panic of 1873, a severe economic depression, occurred during Grant’s second term. The country faced financial turmoil, with businesses failing and unemployment rates skyrocketing. Grant’s ability to effectively address these economic difficulties was limited, leading to criticism of his presidency.
Despite the challenges faced during his presidency, Grant’s commitment to Reconstruction and protecting the rights of African Americans left a lasting impact on the country. His efforts to ensure equality and justice for all citizens continue to be remembered today.
Grant’s Later Life and Legacy on Currency
After leaving office as the 18th President of the United States in 1877, Ulysses S. Grant embarked on a new chapter in his life. He wrote his memoirs, which were published by Mark Twain and became a bestseller.
Grant’s memoirs not only provided a detailed account of his military and political career but also served as a source of income for his family. The memoirs showcased his leadership skills and strategic thinking, solidifying his place as a prominent figure in American history.
Wrote Memoirs and Toured the World After Leaving Office
In addition to writing his memoirs, Grant embarked on a world tour. He traveled to various countries, including England, Egypt, and China, where he was received with great admiration and respect. Grant’s tour was not only a personal adventure but also served as a diplomatic mission, strengthening ties between the United States and other nations.
His ability to navigate foreign territories and engage with world leaders further enhanced his reputation as a skilled diplomat.
Died of Throat Cancer in 1885
Tragically, Ulysses S. Grant’s later years were marred by illness. In 1884, he was diagnosed with throat cancer, a disease that would ultimately claim his life. Despite his deteriorating health, Grant remained determined to complete his memoirs, knowing that they would provide financial stability for his family after his passing.
He worked diligently on his writing while battling the effects of the illness, demonstrating his resilience and dedication.
Appeared on $50 Bill Since 1913 as an Icon of Union Victory
Ulysses S. Grant’s legacy extends beyond his military and political achievements. Since 1913, his portrait has graced the $50 bill, making him one of the few presidents to be featured on U.S. currency.
Grant’s image on the bill serves as a reminder of his crucial role in leading the Union Army to victory during the American Civil War. His leadership and strategic brilliance played a significant part in preserving the Union and ending slavery, making him a symbol of national unity and progress.
Grant’s place on the $50 bill also highlights the importance of recognizing and honoring the contributions of individuals who have shaped American history. His inclusion in the currency serves as a testament to his enduring impact and serves as a reminder of the values and ideals he fought to uphold.
Who Is On The 50-Dollar Bill – Conclusion
In the end, Ulysses S. Grant earned his place on the $50 bill through decades of public service and military leadership. His determined battlefield tactics and commitment to civil rights during Reconstruction cemented his reputation as a principled, though flawed, national hero.
So next time you get a grant (or a Grant! ), think about how one man went from humble roots to the face of the $50 bill.