The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant
Charles W. Calhoun
Choice Outstanding Academic Title
As controversial in politics as he was in the military, Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885) was an embattled president, enormously popular with the American people, yet the target of unrelenting censure by political enemies. For the first time in almost a century, this book by the distinguished historian Charles W. Calhoun examines Grant’s administration in depth, offering a fresh look at the 18th president’s policies and actions during his two terms in office (1869–1877).
“Calhoun’s work deserves to educate the public as to how a general can ride a wave of popular support to change the nation while avoiding demagoguery.”
“Calhoun traces Grant’s transformation from a celebrated general to an emerging politico who shrewdly survived the period when Andrew Johnson’s presidency was rendered irrelevant. The hefty goals of interrogating the well-established historical negatives of Grant’s presidency demands nothing less than the diligent methodology of a disciplined investigator—and Calhoun delivers.”
—Congress & the PresidencySee all reviews...
“Calhoun, one of the most gifted historians of the Gilded Age, turns his attention to the Grant administration with a meticulously researched, shrewdly argued, and elegantly written contribution.”
—Journal of Southern History
“Calhoun breaks the mould of works that have explored Grant’s presidency. He has produced a meticulously researched biography, rich in detail and endnotes, which does the Grant administration ample justice.”
—Reviews in History
“Calhoun’s massive study of Grant’s presidency is a masterpiece of historical investigation and writing. Essential.”
“With sound research and skillful writing, Calhoun offers a balanced treatment of the Grant administration that will likely be definitive for many years.”
“A magnificent contribution to the study of the Grant presidency. It is a beautifully written and the most thorough study of the Grant administrations. What emerges is a staunch defense of Grant against the charges of corruption leveled by previous historians, and, a massive documentation of Grant’s steadfast commitment to the rights of black freedmen.”
—Michael F. Holt, author of By One Vote: The Disputed Presidential Election of 1876
“Eminent historian Charles Calhoun’s new book takes Grant’s presidency beyond the superficial corrupt label it has been dismissed with into a more accurate place of importance. Without soft peddling the difficulties of Grant’s time in the Executive Mansion, Calhoun’s new book demonstrates just how important a president this quiet man was. Well-researched and well-written, this book is a must read for scholars and others interested in gaining accurate insight about a major American leader.”
—John F. Marszalek, Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History and executive director of the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, Mississippi State University
“Once deemed one of the nation’s worst presidents by scholars and pundits alike, Ulysses S. Grant’s reputation as a politician and chief executive has improved during the past three decades. Now comes Charles W. Calhoun’s comprehensive overview of the eighteenth presidents administration, examining both its achievements and shortcomings with discerning insight. At last Grant can claim fair treatment in this judicious study.”
—Brooks D. Simpson, author of The Reconstruction Presidents
“This extraordinary history helps restore the reputation of a genuine American hero. This volume, the first to cover the Grant presidency in over two generations, is a window on eight years of success and attempts to reconcile sections of a country still at war with itself. The author is fair in portraying Grant as energized, patriotic, and loyal—sometimes too loyal. Far from being a corrupt administration, Grant’s strengths as a leader have a profound positive effect on American culture in civil liberties for African Americans, the American economy, and diplomacy. This is a must read for all who cherish the American republic.”
—Frank J. Williams is the President of The Ulysses S. Grant Association and Presidential Library and the retired Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme CourtSee fewer reviews...
Most biographers focus on Grant’s military career, giving less attention to the significant and complex questions that marked his presidential terms. These concerns, the issues of politics and governance, are at the core of this book. As a political historian with a vast knowledge of nineteenth-century America and an extensive array of original sources at his command, Calhoun approaches Grant’s presidency not as an incongruous or inconsequential sequel to his military career but instead as the polestar of American public life during a crucial decade in the nation's political development. He explores Grant’s leadership style and traces his contributions to the office of president, including creating a White House staff, employing modern technology to promote the mobility of the presidency, and developing strong ties with congressional leaders to enhance executive influence over legislation.
The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant provides a detailed discussion of the administration’s endeavors in a variety of areas—Reconstruction and civil rights, economic policy, the Peace Policy for Native Americans, foreign policy, and civil service reform. It also offers a straightforward examination of the scandals associated with the period, highlighting the “embattled” nature of Grant’s presidency and the deep antagonism that marked his relations with key critics such as Charles Sumner, Henry Adams, and Benjamin Bristow. In sum, this book is a long overdue re-evaluation of a pivotal presidency in America’s political history.