What do you think it might be like to be a general of the army and then become President of the United States? There are very few men who have done it, but Ulysses S. Grant is one of them.
Hiram Ulysses Grant was born on April 27, 1822 at Point Pleasant, Ohio. Ulysses' father, Jesse, had become wealthy as a leather tanner. His mother, Hannah, a quiet, unemotional woman, offered little affection in the home. People assume that the "S" in Grant's name stood for "Simpson," his mother's maiden name. According to Ulysses, though, it was simply a letter with no further meaning.
Grant became the eldest of six children. He was a shy, sensitive person who loved animals. He disliked the tannery his father ran. He discovered his love of horses when he was just three, when he rode the first time. By age five he was able to stand on a horse's back as it trotted. When he was nine, he purchased his first horse.
Ulysses' skilled understanding of horses while he was still a child was soon well recognized. People from all over town brought him horses to train. When he wasn't training horses, he loved to race them. It was not uncommon for him to be seen racing other boys along the roads.
When it came to doing school work, Ulysses was fairly bright. He enjoyed math but disliked writing. He especially hated having to speak in front of others. This dislike continued into his adult years. Ulysses was also artistic and painted several water color paintings from what he saw in life.
Perhaps one of the hardest things he had to endure was his father's bragging. Jesse Grant loved to brag about his oldest son. He bragged so much that the other boys resented Ulysses. It became the point which split the two apart.
Ulysses didn't seem to have any real talents except for handling horses, and he hated the tannery. His father thought he might do well as an engineer and sent the boy to US Military Academy at West Point. Young Ulysses graduated after four lonely years at the Academy in 1843. He accepted an army commission as a brevet second lieutenant on graduation. His posting to St. Louis was fine with him. Just about anything was an improvement over returning to the tannery.
One of Ulysses' few friends at West Point was Fred Dent from St. Louis. Grant made it a point to go by the Dent farm to pay his respects when he arrived in town. There he met Fred's sister, Julia. It was love at first sight for Grant.