The Grant's four children enjoyed experiences that other children never would -- viewing great military battles, getting married in the White House, meeting leaders such as Abraham Lincoln and Queen Victoria, and traveling around the world. But they also discovered that being the child of a war hero and president did not guarantee happiness or success.
Frederick Dent Grant, 1850-1912
Frederick Dent Grant, the first of the Grant children, spent a lifetime following in his father's footsteps. But he never measured up to Ulysses S. Grant. Fred was born May 30, 1850, at his mother Julia's family home near St. Louis, Missouri. As a boy during the Civil War, Fred Grant often joined his father in the field. At 12, he watched Union boats battle their way down the Mississippi under the blistering fire of Confederate guns at Vicksburg, and saw the Union flag raised over the captured Confederate city of Jackson, Mississippi.
Like his father, Fred attended the United States Military Academy at West Point. Ulysses S. Grant had been a mediocre cadet. Fred performed even worse. When he graduated in 1871, he ranked 37th out of 41 students in academics and dead last in discipline.
Fred Grant, like his father, made a career in the military and politics. He served as a family spokesman during his father's illness and after his death. He also served as minister to Austria under President Benjamin Harrison, and as the New York City Commissioner of Police. Fred finally saw real battle, in 1898, during the Spanish American War, when he led troops in the Philippines. Fred died in 1912 at the age of 61.
Ulysses S. Grant Jr. (Buck), 1852-1929
Named after his father, Ulysses S. Grant Jr. was known to friends and family as Buck -- after the Buckeye State of Ohio where he was born on July 22, 1852. As a young man, Buck Grant attended Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard, and Columbia Law School -- three of the finest schools in America. But his education would not be enough to save him from financial disaster.
In 1881, Buck Grant started a Wall Street investment firm with a man named Ferdinand Ward. Young, handsome, and ambitious, Ward looked like a winner. But what Buck didn't know was that the money he and other investors gave to Ward was being used irresponsibly. When the firm of Grant & Ward collapsed in 1884, Buck Grant went broke -- and so did his father. Ulysses S. Grant had invested more than $100,000 in the firm.
After the failure of Grant and Ward, Buck Grant lived for a while in New York State before moving to San Diego, California. He resumed his law practice and invested in a hotel named after his father. He also served as an assistant U. S. district attorney. Buck fathered five children in his first marriage, to Fannie Chaffee, daughter of a rich businessman. Fannie died in 1909, and in 1913, Buck married again, this time to America Workman Wills. Buck Grant died in 1929.
Ellen Grant (Nellie), 1855-1922
The media adored Nellie Grant, Ulysses. S. Grant's only daughter. She was born on the Fourth of July 1855 at White Haven, her mother's family home near St. Louis, Missouri. Nellie spent her teenage years in the White House, where the newspapers made her out to be a kind of American princess. True, she did seem to live a princess' lifestyle. At age 16, she was sent to Europe, where she studied in London and even met Queen Victoria. On her return trip home, she met a dashing young Englishman, and immediately fell in love.
Nellie married Algernon Sartoris, the son of famed opera singer Fanny Kemble, on May 21, 1874, in the White House. But after the couple moved back to England, Nellie discovered her husband was less dashing than he seemed. Some said Sartoris had problems with alcohol. Others said that he cheated on Nellie, or just plain ignored her. Nellie had four children by Sartoris. The oldest, a son, died in 1876. Nellie was never happy in her marriage. Eventually, she and Sartoris divorced.
Nellie saw little of her parents during the time she lived in England. But when Ulysses S. Grant was dying, Nellie returned to the United States. After her father's death, Nellie and her three children settled in with her mother in Washington, D.C. In 1912, Nellie remarried to a man named Frank Hatch Jones. She died in 1922.
Jesse Root Grant, 1858-1934
Named after his grandfather, Jesse Root Grant was born on February 6, 1858 at Hardscrabble, the Grants' farm near St. Louis, Missouri. A child with a tendency for mischief, Jesse grew up in a world in which important military figures and political leaders were part of the landscape. Among his acquaintances was Abraham Lincoln, whom Jesse met a number of times as a boy.
Jesse dropped out of Cornell University at age 19 to join his parents on their world tour in 1877. One memorable moment for Jesse was when his parents brought him along on a visit to England's Queen Victoria. The Grants felt it was the natural thing to do, although Jesse had not been invited. Eventually, Jesse was allowed to join his parents and eat with the Queen, but she later described him as "a very ill-mannered young Yankee."
When the Grant tour headed for Asia, Jesse returned to America, where he spent a year at Columbia Law School. He then pursued work in mining and business. In 1880, he married a woman named Elizabeth Chapman. Jesse returned to his father's side when Ulysses was dying, and was with the family at the time of his father's death.
In 1914, Jesse Grant divorced Elizabeth Chapman, the mother of his two children and his wife of more than 30 years. Soon after, he married again, to Lillian Burns Wilkins. Jesse lived for many years in California, and even spent time as the manager of the U. S. Grant Hotel, which was owned by his brother Buck. In 1925, Jesse published a memoir called In the Days of My Father General Grant, which told of his life with his father up until the end of the Grants' world tour. Jesse Grant died in 1934.
My American Experience
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