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Ulysses S. Grant

Study Questions and Essay Topics

Beyond the White House

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Study Questions

What made Grant resign from the Army the first time?

Grant sorely missed his wife and family and disliked being separated for so long. In fact, after this separation, he and his wife Julia would never be apart for more than a week or so at a time, even during the height of the Civil War.

What made Grant's father fight to reinstate Grant in the army after he resigned?

Grant's father doubted his son's abilities as a businessman, and also considered him to be very successful in the Army and wished to seem him continue because his service elevated the family's social status.

What was Grant's strategy for winning the Civil War?

Grant knew that the North had more resources than the South. He could grind down the Confederate Army with the knowledge that his Union armies would continue to receive reinforcements, but that by 1864 the Confederates did not have any additional manpower upon which to draw. As long as he kept killing Confederates at about the same rate that he lost men, he would eventually win.

Why did Julia Grant like the White House as much as she did?

Julia Grant was always trying to impress her friends. Coming from her relatively wealthy Missouri background, she strived her entire life to "live large," but rarely could do so because of Grant's poor finances. She always remained ashamed of the houses in which they lived early in their marriage, such as the "Hardscrabble" homestead outside St. Louis.

Essay Topics

Was Grant really a "butcher" as his critics claimed? Do you consider his actions in the war reckless or necessary?

Can Grant's anti-South policies be considered hypocritical because of his earlier owning of slaves?

How did Grant fail so spectacularly in politics?

Taking Grant's life as a whole–from his early failed businesses to his near bankruptcy at his death–should he be considered a success?

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