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yousorename t1_iy4u94u wrote

This is true, but my favorite Grant anecdote is that after the Mexican American war he worked at his father in law’s leather goods shop in IL and he fucking sucked at it

A guy who essentially won the US Civil War for the good guys, was a two term president in a time when that was rare, and made it his mission to destroy the KKK, was just straight up BAD at running a store. Importantly, it’s not like he was some violent skull-cracker when he was in the army and just couldn’t get used to civilian life. He was a logistics guy during the Mexican American War, he should have been able to run a store!

I think about this a lot because it’s important to remember that just because you are bad at one thing doesn’t mean that you are a bad person or bad at everything. Some people are just not in the right job and that’s ok.

But if it weren’t for the Civil War, Grant would have probably just drank himself to death in Galena IL and nobody would have ever heard his name. Maybe you suck at your email job and would be a great leader, but there isn’t a war for you to fight in. Or maybe you’re at war right now and are really much better suited to run a store but never will. Everything lined up for Grant in the most destructive way possible and he did a historic amount of good, killed a ton of people, did deeds that will be remembered throughout the ages, and died penniless, cancer stricken, and in horrible pain

Life is a wild fucking ride


ahornysmurf t1_iy5fj8w wrote

thanks for this. needed it rn


yousorename t1_iy5i24r wrote

Really glad it could help.

Whether you’re into non-fiction history or not, I’d highly recommend the book “Grant” by Ron Chernow. I listened to it on Audible and it was wonderfully narrated and absolutely riveting from start to finish. Grant’s life is fascinating and he truly is a great man.

Another interesting thing about him that I think about often is that he was described as “being a man utterly without guile”, meaning that he had no mind at all for scams, or really business for the most part. He was never a guy that could make money, and he was often conned out of the money he had because he was all too willing to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and trust their good intentions.

Again, this is a guy who ground the Confederate army to dust in multiple theaters of war, but if he was alive today would have totally lost money on a timeshare if a friend talked him into it. Again, we’re all better at some things than others, and that’s ok


capt_tuttle t1_iy5wjih wrote

An absolute gem of a biography and, as you said, Grant was a fascinating human being.


Dblenvelopment t1_iy5qmc9 wrote

Grant was a cool guy- but so are you. Heroes come in many forms.


capt_tuttle t1_iy65mdc wrote

One thing that Grant is known for always taking the initiative. One anecdote of his that I love is how that came to be. As a young officer in command he is was attacked and, surviving, he reflected on how terrifying that was. Instead of being afraid he just resolved to always take the initiative so that the other guy would be terrified instead.

I think Grant is among the most normal or relatable “great men.”


yousorename t1_iy6a6r4 wrote

Absolutely agree on him being the most normal and relatable because his only “super power” to the degree that he had one was just being fucking relentless and methodical. I think it was a story from Shilo maybe, but it’s the middle of the night and poring down rain and Sherman is having a breakdown about the losses they had and how everything was falling apart and Grant, standing under a tree and smoking a cigar said, “Yeah, but we’ll lick em tomorrow” and then they did.

He just kept going, but not in an action hero John McClane way, but more like a rising tide.


Yancy_Farnesworth t1_iy6o8iq wrote

I have to wonder how Grant would have done in the era of industrialized war. The Civil War was in a lot of ways a prelude to that. It seems like he would have had the right strategic chops for it given how he fought the Confederacy... He used the Union's material might to great effect, but it was costly in terms of the body count. Something that generals would have to learn how to deal with in WWI and WWII.


Billy1121 t1_iy99qyo wrote

He might have a few Cold Harbor-sized losses, but Grant may have been one of the few generals with a chance of adapting to the machinegun and mechanized warfare.

Though he liked horses a lot, maybe he would be too attached to cavalry


BanjoB0y t1_iy9n1hg wrote

Hopefully he'd have seen mechanization as "Oh great, now no horses have to die"

It would have been interesting to see how a protege of his might have used horses in WW1 alongside mechanized tanks


DukeDoozy t1_iy7k57n wrote

Two of my favorite Ulysses S Grant stories that accentuate that wild ride point:

  1. As he was on his way to the grave, sick and slowly dying, he wrote his memoirs in a vain hope to save his family from poverty after his death. The company he signed with was ripping him off, and it wasn't going to matter, but his great admirer Mark "Mother Fucking" Twain stepped in and published it for him with a MUCH better deal.

He allowed Grant's last act to be saving his family from the same poverty he got them into after being swindled multiple times.

  1. Grant actually started sucking at business really young. When he was a boy, he and his father saw a horse little boy Grant wanted (he loved horses) with a price of $25. His father thought it wasn't worth it, so they walked away, but Ulysses wouldn't stop pestering his dad.

Finally, his dad says, "Fine. You can go to the merchant and offer him 20. If he doesn't take that, you can offer 23. Only if he doesn't take that can you buy the horse for 25."

Ulysses turns around, walks straight back to the merchant, and says, "My dad says I can offer you 20, and if you don't take that, I can offer you 23, and if you don't take that I can offer you 25."

They settled on $25.

  1. Grant was actually briefly a slave owner for about a year. This was after the Mexican-American War, and his family was reduced to selling firewood to make ends meet, entirely impoverished. His father-in-law, patriarch of a major slave family, gave him a slave.

Now, Ulysses wasn't very ideologically driven at this point. He was from an abolitionist family, but he married into a slave-holding one. And the slave he received was worth probably $1,000 at market, a life changing amount for his family at the time.

But even though he didn't yet have a mind for politics, he couldn't square the act of owning another person. It wasn't a political stance. It just didn't compute. He took the man to the court house and freed him roughly a year after taking ownership. A bold move considering that money would have definitely risen his family from poverty.

Grant definitely didn't succeed at everything he tried, but as a man, I have found no other president and few other figures as compelling as him.


DrRexMorman t1_iy98xx4 wrote

Before starting work in Galena, Grant soldd firewood on the streets of St. Louis to get money to buy his kids Christmas presents.

He ran into a friend from the army who asked him what had happened, Grant reportedly replied, "I am solving the problem of poverty."


ricanhavoc t1_iy8vkxs wrote

He didn't really die penniless, he lost his life savings towards the end of his life because of con men, but the final thing he did was write his autobiography which provided his family enough income to be financially secure.


TrailerBuilder t1_iy4lsix wrote

Me, 47, sitting here day drinking at work like "shit, I gotta act busy here comes a customer".


1angrylittlevoice t1_iy4n2ts wrote

Grant, 47, sitting there day drinking at work like "shit, I gotta act busy here comes my chief of staff"


john510runner t1_iy502cl wrote

Believe it or not I see parallels between what you just said and Grant.

He loved to drink but kept it somewhat undercover. He was a store keeper. Not saying you're a storekeeper but the customer service angle.


TrailerBuilder t1_iy51n8n wrote

My wife and I own a retail florist and greenhouse business.


john510runner t1_iy53fws wrote

Grant didn't own the shop he worked in. He was a junior clerk at a leather goods store and his younger brother(s?) had more senior positions there.

edit words


StupidizeMe t1_iy4npmz wrote

In photos from the Civil War most men look much older than they are. This is partly due to their large beards, but their skin also became very "weathered" due to exposure to the elements.

I've seen photos where a Civil War soldier is in his mid-20s but looks like he's in his 40s.


FavorablePrint t1_iy5h3w8 wrote

Grant was a total badass. He gets maligned because of his trust in the wrong people but the dude was as legit as they came.


yousorename t1_iy6almx wrote

Also maligned because people started to believe generations worth of “Lost Cause” neo-Confederate sick-head propaganda that painted him as an incompetent drunk.


FavorablePrint t1_iy8zb5i wrote

People venerate RELee as this great military leader but Grant routinely stomped him. Even during the Mexican War, Lee's reputation was overblown.


Pikesmakker t1_iy6bn13 wrote

Grant was a truly great American, and has been the victim of Confederate revisionist slander


john510runner t1_iy564y2 wrote

I wonder if there's a movie being made about him...

From what I can gather he could do amazing things on a horse and the only reason he went along with plans to go to West Point was so he could join the cavalry. Some of the action sequences on horseback... I see Grant being shot/portrayed like he's the main character in an Assassin's Creed game.

Grant didn't graduate high enough in his class to be assigned to a cavalry unit like he wanted.

One of the things that's fascinating to me about Grant is all of the setbacks he's had in his life and how he worked through them in practical and humble ways.


Empereor_Norton t1_iy6kord wrote

I would imagine his military and political careers were helped by the fact people knew his face from the $50 bill.


TheodoreFMRoosevelt t1_iy5198e wrote

"I feel myself up to commanding a Regiment." - Guy who would command all Union Armies.


Huli_Blue_Eyes t1_iy4lc68 wrote

I’m 42 and can’t land a job but this jabroni was running the Union armies at the same age. fml


john510runner t1_iy50iq4 wrote

Grant at multiple times in his life was where you were.

He kept doing different jobs until he found some he excelled at.

At one time in Grant's life, he sold firewood on the streets of St. Louis.


Huli_Blue_Eyes t1_iy596ee wrote

stfu 🙄

I have 2 degrees, worked in marketing, sales, retail, pierced ears, ran a group home, was a banker and teller, ran rides at an amusement park, and a bunch of other jobs in between.


LurkerRushMeta t1_iy5ld4c wrote

Ah, so it's the attitude. Got it.


Huli_Blue_Eyes t1_iy60lo7 wrote

Yeah, I'm f**king exhausted. I've been working since I was 11 and people like you fail upwards without any empathy for people who are truly struggling right now.

Happy holidays.


dog_superiority t1_iy5brj6 wrote

Maybe this makes you feel better:

Alexander the Great conquered the known world by the time he was 32.


complete_hick t1_iy61jj8 wrote

Al Capone's 7 year rein as crime boss ended with his imprisonment at age 33


YaBoy566 t1_iy5z4ra wrote

I remember reading somewhere that Grant hated the sight of blood, so much so that he would request his steaks to be nearly charred before he ate them, this coming from the man who lost 50,000 soldiers in one battle, they didnt call him "Grant the Butcher" for nothing.

He also was apparently stone cold in the face of danger on the battlefield, barking orders at his soldiers as bullets quite literally wiz past him without him even flinching.


Caleb-Rentpayer t1_iy676dx wrote

Why is it that, in the modern era, great people like Grant don't seem to arise like they did in the past? Seriously, when was the last truly great leader?


Billy1121 t1_iy9afhp wrote

Less need? The Union went through a lot of trash generals before finding Grant. It was desperate times.

Now if someone like McChrystal fucks up in Afghanistan we have a deep bench of highly trained officers hungry for stars on their chest.


My_Space_page t1_iy8xex0 wrote

According to a letter. Apparently, Lincoln initially had no trust in Grant to win anything. This opinion changed only after Vicksburg Campaign.


IllustriousAct28 OP t1_iy92btf wrote

Lots of comments about Grant's drinking. Yes he was a heavy drinker as a soldier but it was always during lulls, he was never drunk at a critical point. He didn't drink while leading men in combat, And he was clear headed when he planned his strategies, tactics and logistics.


ChuckChuckelson t1_iy4o1sg wrote

he was elected president not made


thepillsburypoboy t1_iy58cif wrote

What are elections if not people making other people what they end up being? Couldn’t tell if you’re making a joke or just have a hard on for semantics.


ChuckChuckelson t1_iy59eh8 wrote

Stickler for semantics


mrpenchant t1_iy6mhbw wrote

He was made president by the people electing him.

You're attempting to correct OP on a really pedantic detail but not even correct in saying OP is wrong because they aren't mutually exclusive events.


winkman t1_iy4uesk wrote

Ike be jealous!


Regular_Ferret1080 t1_iy4xxh3 wrote

He died of throat cancer and was desperate for money if I recall thats why he allowed someone to write his memoirs. The disgrace of his life after the presidency led to giving ex presidents a dotation.


john510runner t1_iy52fnk wrote

That's (Grant not writing his own memoir) been debunked. Mark Twain acted in the capacity of a literary agent/publisher of Grant's memoir.

Twain, who I think Grant addressed as Clemens, talked Grant out of signing a bad deal with a different publisher.


GiantIrish_Elk t1_iy57yg6 wrote

He was also broke because he had paid off the money that his sons "friend" and partner in the brokerage he had invested in had embezzled and fled the country.


p-d-ball t1_iy686x7 wrote

Well, he never held a cell phone! So, I win in that department.


LifeBuilder t1_iy6enru wrote

Great! So now all I have to do is make commander of all the union armies at 40 and president and 45?


aztronut t1_iy4ujcc wrote

Before the War he was pretty much an abject failure.


Guardias t1_iy5axll wrote

The drunk bastard who failed upwards.