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LIFE OF GENERAL GRANT.
BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE.
LYSSES SIMPSON GRANT was born, April
27, 1822, at Point Pleasant, Clermont County, Ohio, a small town on the Ohio River, twenty-five miles above Cincinnati. The Grants are of Scotch descent; and the motto of their clan in Aberdeenshire was, “Stand fast, stand firm, stand sure.” Grant inherits from many of his ancestors a love for freedom, and a determination to fight for its cause. In 1799, his
, grandfather, a Pennsylvania farmer, joined the great tide of emigration moving to the North-west Territory.
This fertile and attractive region had recently been consecrated to freedom forever by the great Ordinance of 1787. There, there would be neither slaves nor slavery; there, labor would be honorable in all.
His great-grandfather, Capt. Noah Grant of Windsor, Conn., and his brother, Lieut. Solomon Grant, were soldiers in the old French War, and were both killed in battle in 1756; and it is not to be forgotten that
the old muster-rolls of the company bear the names of several negro soldiers who fought and died by their side. His grandfather, also Noah Grant of Windsor, hurried from his fields at the first conflict of the Revolution, and appeared as a lieutenant on Lexington Common on the morning of the memorable 19th of April, when the embattled farmers fired the shot heard round the world."
Jesse R. Grant, the father of Ulysses, was born in Pennsylvania in 1794. He married Hannah Simpson, the daughter of a friend and neighbor. They had six children. Mr. Grant learned his business as a tanner in Maysville, Ky., but left for Ohio because he would not own a slave, nor live where slaves were owned. He is a man of great force of character, of marked individuality, of industry, integrity, and thrift; and still lives to enjoy the respect of his fellow-citizens and the world-wide fame of his son.
Like other great men, Grant has an excellent mother, - a pious woman, cheerful, unambitious of worldly display, watchful of her children, and “looking well to the ways of her household.”
Her husband pays her the highest tribute which can be paid to any wife and mother in saying, “Her steadiness, firmness, and strength of character, have been the stay of the family through life.”
The strength-of a mother's love has been famed from earliest time. “Floods cannot quench it, nor the seas drown." While Grant was in the Mexican War, his mother's hair turned white from anxiety. young; had just entered the army; he was far away, surrounded by so many temptations, he might “ fall from
life, or, sadder yet, from virtue." But the mother's love and prayers, which carried him daily in her heart to God, were his shield from his cradle; and the man does not live who ever heard him utter a profane word. Throughout all the harassing and perplexing cares of his army-life, no negligence, carelessness, misbehavior, ill-temper in others, tempted him to irreverence. Always, at all times, he was self-controlled; and “ self-control is self-completion.” During the Rebellion, she still followed himn with the eyes of her heart on the road to fame, but with more faith and trust. She believed God had raised him up to deliver and bless his native land, and would guide and protect him. How much the world owes to pious mothers !
Love of their children was a strongly-marked trait in the family. Mr. Grant, senior, when in the full enjoyment of his powers of mind and body, took a competence from his own property, and divided the remainder among his children, except Ulysses, who declined to receive it. Gen. Grant wanted the companionship of his young son in his absence from his family in camp; and, wishing also to bring liim in contact with actual life under his own eye, he took him with him to Champion Hill, and through the campaign at Vicksburg. And on the morning at the White House when he received his commission from President Lincoln as LieutenantGeneral of the Union armies, there were assembled, besides the cabinet, only one or two officials; but, when Gen. Grant entered, his little son was by his side. So sweet is it to the human heart to have our success witnessed by those we love!
He was originally christened Hiram Ulysses ; his
grandfather giving the name of Hiram ; his grandmother, who was a great student of history, giving the name of Ulysses, whose character had strongly attracted her admiration. The member of Congress who appointed Grant to his cadetship at West Point.when a boy of seventeen, by accident changed his name, in filling his appointment, to U. S. Grant. Grant repeatedly endeavored to have the mistake corrected at West Point, and at the War Department at Washington ; 'but this was one of the few things in which he failed: his applications were never complied with., As if fate foresaw the patriotic duty, the filial love, the transcendent services, he was one day to render his country, the government seemed to insist, when adopting him among her military children, on renaming him, and giving to him her own initials, — “U. S.,” which he has ever since borne.
It has been thought remarkable that the mother of Napoleon should have happened to give birth to her warrior-son beneath tapestried hangings on which were wrought battle-pictures from the Iliad. Is it not a little singular that the maternal relative of Grant should have chosen for her admiration, from all history, the character of the hero of the siege of Troy; have given his name to the infant Grant; and that forty years after, when leading the Union armies of the Republic, he should have exhibited the same invincible fortitude, untiring patience, and unconquerable perseverance, so celebrated in the immortal song of Homer? Ulysses of old was himself the very man who “ fought it out on the line he had chosen, if it took all summer.”
Grant was neither a precocions nor a stupid child :
he was a well-behaved, dutiful boy. He attended the public school in the village; he learned well, but was no prodigy. The first book he read was “ The Life of Washington,” which made on his mind and imagination a profound and sting impression. A Canadian relative of about his own age visiting him soon after, Washington was very naturally spoken of by the two boys. His Canadian cousin said “he was nothing but a rebel, after all.” Both boys were excited; and Grant said, “ If you say that again, I'll thrash you.” It was repeated with defiance. Off went their jackets, and the Canadian soon had the worst of it. Years after, Grant was reminded of the incident by his cousin ; and he assured him pleasantly that he should do the same thing again with like provocation.
His special fondness was for a horse, and he attended the circus whenever it passed through the village. One came along in which there was an innocent-looking pony, which was brought out during the performances ; and then the question would be mildly asked with a smile, “ Is there any little boy here who would like a ride ?”
The pony was trained to go furiously round, and, at a given signal from his master, throw the boy head first on to the tan in the ring; when the surprised and mortified boy would pick himself up, and retreat amid the laughter of the crowd. When the question was asked, Ulysses stepped into the ring, mounted ; and the pony started. On he went; crack, crack, went the whip; faster and faster went the pony. At the signal, he kicked up his heels, reared, plunged, shook his back. The people shouted; but the boy sat still. Out came a large