Ulysses S. Grant was an American military leader who served as the 18th president of the United States from 1869 to 1877. As president, Grant was an effective civil rights executive who created the Justice Department and worked with the Radical Republicans to protect African Americans during Reconstruction. Grant, however, struggled to detect corruption among his Cabinet members, appointees, friends, and family. As Commanding General, he led the Union Army to victory in the American Civil War in 1865 and thereafter briefly served as Secretary of War.
Raised in Ohio, Grant possessed an exceptional ability with horses, which served him well through his military career. He was admitted to West Point, graduated 21st in the class of 1843 and served with distinction in the Mexican–American War. In 1848, he married Julia Dent, and together they had four children. Grant abruptly resigned his army commission in 1854 and returned to his family, but lived in poverty for seven years. He joined the Union Army after the Civil War broke out in 1861 and rose to prominence after winning several early Union victories on the Western Theater.