The Republican Convention meets at Philadelphia and renominates Grant on the first ballot (June 6).
The New York Sun charges that Vice President Colfax, Vice-Presidential nominee Henry Wilson, James Garfield, and other prominent politicians are involved in the operations of the Credit Mobilier, a corporation established by the promoters of the Union Pacific railroad to siphon off the profits of construction. Ultimately, two congressmen will be censured for their part in the swindle and many other politicians will be damaged in reputation.
Grant is reelected with an electoral college majority of 286-66, and a popular majority of 763,000.
Grant is inaugurated for a second term. In his second inaugural, Grant says: "I acknowledge before this assemblage, representing, as it does, every section of our country, the obligation I am under to my countrymen for the great honor they have conferred on me by returning me to the highest office within their gift, and the further obligation resting on me to render to them the best services within my power. This I promise, looking forward with the greatest anxiety to the day when I shall be released from responsibilities that at times are almost overwhelming, and from which I have scarcely had a respite since the eventful firing upon Fort Sumter, in April, 1861, to the present day . . . I have been the subject of abuse and slander scarcely ever equaled in political history, which to-day I feel that I can afford to disregard in view of your verdict, which I gratefully accept as my vindication."
The panic of 1873 begins with the failure of the firm of Jay Cooke, spreads to the stock exchange, and eventually leads to widespread unemployment.
Grant vetoes a bill to increase the amount of legal tender currency. Grant's strong stand against inflation leads to a bill (June 20, 1874) limiting the amount of legal tender currency and providing for its retirement.
A group of corrupt officials and businessmen known as the Whisky Ring is exposed by the Saint Louis Democrat. An investigation ordered by Secretary of the Treasury Benjamin H. Bristow ultimately compromises important Grant appointees and General Orville E. Babcock, Grant's private secretary. Upon first hearing of the scandals, Grant had ordered: "Let no guilty man escape." Later, Grant's testimony influences a jury to acquit Babcock.
Grant writes a public letter announcing that he will not be a candidate for a third term.
On the same day Secretary of War William W. Belknap is impeached on charges of accepting bribes from Indian agents, President Grant accepts his resignation. Since Belknap is no longer a government official, the Senate holds that it has no authority to convict him.
In his last message to Congress, Grant surveys his years in the White House. "It was my fortune, or misfortune, to be called to the office of Chief Executive without any previous political training. From the age of 17 I had never even witnessed the excitement attending a Presidential campaign but twice antecedent to my own candidacy, and at but one of them was I eligible as a voter.
"Under such circumstances it is but reasonable to suppose that errors of judgment must have occurred. Even had they not, differences of opinion between the Executive, bound by an oath to the strict performance of his duties, and writers and debaters must have arisen. It is not necessarily evidence of blunder on the part of the Executive because there are these differences of views. Mistakes have been made, as all can see and I admit, but it seems to me oftener in the selections made of the assistants appointed to aid in carrying out the various duties of administering the Government--in nearly every case selected without a personal acquaintance with the appointee, but upon recommendations of the representatives chosen directly by the people. It is impossible, where so many trusts are to be allotted, that the right parties should be chosen in every instance. History shows that no Administration from the time of Washington to the present has been free from these mistakes. But I leave comparisons to history, claiming only that I have acted in every instance from a conscientious desire to do what was right, constitutional, within the law, and for the very best interests of the whole people. Failures have been errors of judgment, not of intent."
Following a bitterly disputed presidential contest between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden, in which both candidates claim victory, Hayes is declared president. Grant retires from the White House.
The Grant family sails from Philadelphia on a trip around the world.
Grant returns from his trip, during which he has been honored in many countries and has done much to improve relations with the United States.
The Republican National Convention meets in Chicago. The delegates are almost evenly divided between the followers of James G. Blaine and the stalwarts led by Senator Roscoe Conkling of New York. The latter favors the renomination of Grant, and he receives a plurality of votes on the first ballot. When the convention ends, after 36 ballots, in the nomination of James A. Garfield, 306 delegates are still voting for Grant. Although election in 1880 would have broken the third term tradition, Grant had written: "I can not decline if the nomination is tendered without seeking on my part."
The Grants, Ulysses Jr. and his new wife tour Mexico with Don Matias Romero, the former Mexican minister in Washington. Grant has become president of Jay Gould's Mexican Southern Railroad. Genuinely fond of the Mexican people ever since the Mexican War, Grant believes their best interests lie in commercial expansion. Now he urges a railroad link between Mexico and the United States.
Grant buys a home, a brownstone at 3 East 66th Street, New York City.
President Chester A. Arthur appoints Grant to negotiate a commercial treaty with Mexico. The Mexicans name Romero as his counterpart. Both nations eventually reject the resultant treaty because it has been drawn up by close personal friends.
Returning from a visit, Grant slips on the ice in front of his home in New York City. While still confined to bed in January, Grant develops pleurisy.
The firm of Grant and Ward collapses. Ulysses Grant Jr. had been lured by a remarkable swindler, Ferdinand Ward, into a partnership supported by his father and other relatives. General Grant had even been induced to borrow money from W. H. Vanderbilt to aid the firm. Grant had believed himself in comfortable financial circumstances; now, with Grant and Ward's collapse, he discovers that he has nothing and owes substantial sums. In order to support his family, Grant begins to write articles on his battles for the Century magazine. In June he decides to write his memoirs.
As Grant dictates to his secretary, he begins to feel a pain in his throat which soon makes eating almost impossible. He learns he is afflicted with a fatal cancer.
Grant signs a contract with his friend Mark Twain to publish his "Memoirs."
As an act of respect, Grant is placed on the list of retired generals. The Grants are very much in need of the money this will bring.
The first volume of Grant's memoirs goes to press. Prepared as Grant is dying, only the first part has been dictated, since Grant can no longer speak without pain as the cancer grows in his throat. The latter parts are scrawled in pencil on a tablet and transcribed by former staff officer Adam Badeau and Grant's oldest son, Frederick. In a note to one of his doctors, Grant writes: "If I live long enough I will become a sort of specialist in the use of certain medicines if not in the treatment of disease. It seems that one man's destiny in this world is quite as much a mystery as it is likely to be in the next. I never thought of acquiring rank in the profession I was educated for; yet it came with two grades higher prefixed to the rank of General officer for me. I certainly never had either ambition or taste for political life; yet I was twice president of the United States. If any one had suggested the idea of my becoming an author, as they frequently did, I was not sure whether they were making sport of me or not. I have now written a book which is in the hands of the manufacturers. I ask that you keep these notes very private lest I become an authority on the treatment of diseases. I have already too many trades to be proficient in any."
To avoid the summer heat, the Grant family moves to a cottage at Mount McGregor, New York, in the Adirondacks.
Grant dies at the cottage at Mount McGregor.
Funeral services for Grant are held at Mount McGregor. At the same time, a memorial service is held in London's Westminster Abbey. Following the funeral ceremonies, the coffin is carried by special train to Albany and displayed in the state Capitol. The following day, the coffin is taken to City Hall in New York City.
Three Presidents of the United States attend the burial services, and Union and Confederate Generals ride together in carriages. New York City has offered ground in any of its public parks for the tomb, and although the family is originally inclined to choose a location in Central Park, they finally settle upon Riverside Park. The coffin is placed in a hastily constructed temporary tomb.
The Memoirs are published. Sales are so successful that by February 27, 1886, the publishers give Mrs. Grant a check for $200,000. Total profits to the Grant family will reach an estimated $450,000.
Ground is broken for Grant's tomb. The task of raising the necessary $600,000 has taken considerable time, as will the construction of the tomb.
The tomb is dedicated on what would have been Grant's 75th birthday. The coffin had been privately transferred 10 days earlier.
Julia Grant dies, and is buried with her husband, as both had earnestly requested.
My American Experience
Do you admire Ulysses S. Grant? Or perhaps Robert E. Lee? Tell us who is your favorite and why.