Today’s episode is all about Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president of the United States, a man whose story is inextricably intertwined with the history of race in America. He was, after all the, the commanding General of the Union Forces that ultimately won the Civil War, and he was present at every step of the way as the country faced perhaps an even larger task: reconstructing a workable union in the wake of the war.
A national hero, he served contentiously under Andrew Johnson following Lincoln’s tragic death, and succeeded both men when elected President in 1868. He served two terms, until 1877, years that were incredibly consequential for the course of the South, the Union, and in particular for the millions of African Americans freed at war’s end, but uncertain for what the future might hold. He’d fought to save the Union during the war. He’d have to fight again to preserve it long after the guns fell silent.
In today's episode, we speak to Dr. Hilary Green, Associate Professor at the University of Alabama, and Nick Sacco, Park Ranger at the Ulysses S. Grant National Park Service site in St. Louis. We learn from our two Grant experts that we can’t understand his life, his legacy, and certainly not his presidency, without grappling with the biggest event of all: the Civil War.