Read ULYSSES SIMPSON GRANT of Lives of the Presidents Told in Words of One Syllable , free online book, by Jean S. Remy, on

The boy who was to be first a great general in the army, and then Prèsident of the United States, was born at Point Pleasant, Ohio, April 27th, 1822. As a boy he did not care for books, but was fond of sports and games, and had a great love for horses; he was but eight years old when he put a young colt to a sled, and hauled sticks and logs from the woods to his home; and he was but twelve when he made a trade of a horse he had for a young colt which had not been used much; on his way home a dog sprang at the colt, which, at once, mad with fear, tried to run away; the boy held fast to his reins, and stopped the colt just on the edge of a great cliff; but it was in such fear that it would not move, and the boy for a time knew not what to do. At last he took his handkerchief, tied it over the colts eyes, and so drove him home. Folks near the Grant home said there was no horse which young Ulysses could not ride; he was a boy who had a firm will and strong nerves; and was at the head in all sports or games; for young boys soon learn which one of them must take the lead.

He did not stand so high in school, but did his tasks well; and in 1839 he went to West Point. Here he soon had many friends; and they gave him a name which clung to him for life; he was called “Uncle Sam,” from the U. S. in his first two names. At West Point, he read a great deal of war, and the men who had done brave deeds for their country; and when he left there he was, at heart, as well as in name, a soldier of his country. He at once took his place with the troops, who were at war with the Indians in the West; but his first big fight was at Palo Alto in 1846. At the close of this war Grant, who had shown much skill, and knew no fear, was sent to the West once more to force the Indians to keep peace.

He was in California while the gold craze was at its height, to try and make the rough men who came in search of gold keep the laws of the land. Then, from 1854, he had a few years of peace, and started to tan hides and skins, in Galéna, Illinois; but his life was ever at his country’s call; and he was one of the first men to take up arms in the Civil War. He was made a general soon after the war broke out; and one of his first acts was to block all the streams and roads near his post at Cairo, on the Ohio River, so that the South could get no food or arms. Grant was known as a brave fighter, and often was in the midst of the fight at the head of his men. At a great loss of life to his troops, he took two strong forts from the South, Forts Henry and Donelson; and then came that great fight at Shiloh; where the troops of the South were cut down, and the North won the day; Grant was now put next to the head of the whole army; and at once tried to take the city of Vicksburg. The siege of this city was hard for those in its walls, and for the troops in front of it; for Grant and his men could get no food from the North, and the city was quite cut off from help. The city made a brave stand for two long months; but had to give in at last, and at the end of that time Grant and his men marched into the city; now this great general showed what a kind heart he had, for he gave food and clothes to the poor men who had fought so long and so well, to save their town; and he tried hard, at this time, to think of some way to bring the war to a close. Grant was not a hard man, but he was a just one; and in his camps, the men must live the right sort of lives; he would not let his men steal food from the farms about them, or rob the poor folks in their homes. He was a plain man, and his dress showed his plain tastes; once, when he had his troops march past him, that he might see how they looked, he wore such a plain garb that his captains were dressed better than he. He wore no sword, sash, nor belt; just a plain, dark suit, with a soft felt hat on his head, and a pair of kid gloves on his hands; he was a great smoker, and, it is said, his big plans were all made when his cigar was in his mouth. In 1863, Grant won a great fight at Chattanooga; and in the fierce fight in the Wilderness, he and General Lee met for the first time.

Grant’s next great work was to seize Petersburg; and so he laid siege to the town; he dug a huge mine in front of the doomed city, and filled it full of powder that would go off when fired with a match; when this great charge went off, the fort was blown to small bits, and heaps of dead and dying men lay in the midst of the ruin; but the brave men of the South still held the fort, and drove back the troops from the North as they rushed up; and so well did they fight that Grant and his men had to draw back, and leave Petersburg alone for some time.

The next time he tried to take the town though, General Lee, who was in charge, was forced to yield; and soon the red, white and blue waved over the Southern city. Soon after this, Grant took from Lee all the troops in his charge; and it was now plain to see that the war must soon end.

You read in the life of Lincoln, of the terms of peace which Grant gave to the great chief of the South; and it seems that these two men, Grant and Lee, had no hard thoughts for each other; for when peace was made, they shook hands, and parted friends. Each had done his best in the cause he thought right. Grant’s trip to the North when the war was at an end was a grand one; crowds rushed to see the man who had saved the Union, and cheers and shouts rang to the skies. He was, of course, named for prèsident and a great vote put him in office.

He was in the prèsident’s seat for two terms; and was the only man since Washington, who was thought of for a third term; but this the whole land said no to; as no man should be prèsident longer than Washington had been. In Grant’s last term, a big fair was held in Philadelphia, called the Centennial;” to keep in mind this was the great day on which this land was made free. At the end of Grant’s two terms, he took a tour of the world; and all lands made much of the soldier prèsident; rich gifts were placed in his hands; and at the courts of the old world, kings and queens were glad to have this plain quiet man as a guest.

His last home was in New York; and here, in 1884, he fell sick; he lost much money at this time, and was, in truth, a poor man. But he was, to the last, a brave man; and in the midst of much pain, he wrote the book of his life, that when he was dead his wife should have money from its sale.

He died after eight long months of great pain, at Mt. McGregor, near Saratoga, on July 23d, 1885; his body lay in state in New York for some days, and crowds from far and near came to view this great man for the last time.

He was laid to rest August 8th, 1885, at Riverside Park, New York City; and the white marblé tomb that marks this spot is a gift to the great dead, from the land he served so well.