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"President Grant: Personal Memoirs" ranks with the greatest among the autobiographies of generals and presidents of the United States. Grant's autobiography is even more impressive in light of the circumstances in which it was created: Faced with terminal cancer, virtual bankruptcy, and a family he would leave without means of support, U. S. Grant took the advice of his publisher, Mark Twain, and went to work. He completed the manuscript for "President Grant: Personal Memoirs" in eleven months and died a week later, on July 23, 1885.
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About the Author
Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) was the 18th President of the United States (1869-1877) as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America. Grant began his lifelong career as a soldier after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1843. Fighting in the Mexican American War, he was a close observer of the techniques of Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott. He resigned from the Army in 1854, then struggled to make a living in St. Louis and Galena, Illinois. After the American Civil War began in April 1861, he joined the Union war effort, taking charge of training new regiments and then engaging the Confederacy near Cairo, Illinois. In 1862, he fought a series of major battles and captured a Confederate army, earning a reputation as an aggressive general who seized control of most of Kentucky and Tennessee at the Battle of Shiloh. In July 1863, after a long, complex campaign, he defeated five Confederate armies (capturing one of them) and seized Vicksburg. This famous victory gave the Union control of the Mississippi River, split the Confederacy, and opened the way for more Union victories and conquests. After another victory at the Battle of Chattanooga in late 1863, President Abraham Lincoln promoted him to the rank of lieutenant general and gave him charge of all of the Union Armies. As Commanding General of the United States Army from 1864 to 1865, Grant confronted Robert E. Lee in a series of very high casualty battles known as the Overland Campaign that ended in a stalemate siege at Petersburg. During the siege, Grant coordinated a series of devastating campaigns launched by William Tecumseh Sherman, Philip Sheridan, and George Thomas. Finally breaking through Lee's trenches at Petersburg, the Union Army captured Richmond, the Confederate capital, in April 1865. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. Soon after, the Confederacy collapsed and the Civil War ended. During Reconstruction, Grant remained in command of the Army and implemented the Congressional plans to reoccupy the South and hold new elections in 1867 with black voters. This gave Republicans control of the Southern states. Enormously popular in the North after the Union's victory, he was elected to the presidency in 1868.