Sample History Book Review on Ulysses Grant

History Book Review on Ulysses Grant

Ulysses S. Grant grew up in a family that did not support slavery. It is evident that the older Grant did not support slave trade, and therefore, his son, Jesse Grant, ran his farms and tannery business solely through hard work. Ulysses Grant believed in individual hard work rather than enslaving others to get free labor. This explains why Grant freed one of his slaves at some point in life as he believed in personal freedoms of every individual. Grant had the view that the repression of freedoms would result in serious rebellion. As such, he tried as much as possible not to enslave people and pushed for the abolishment of the practice in the United States. In his memoir, he stated that when their government oppresses people, it is a natural right they enjoy to relieve themselves of the oppression (Grant 104). Grant firmly supported the union between the Southern and Northern states as he believed that all human beings had the right to a dignified life. Grant was part of the war against slavery in the United States, and as the leader, he ensured the protection of enslaved men, women, and children. This gives insight into why Grant was considered a protector of the Emancipation Proclamation that was enacted by President Lincoln. Another reason for Grant’s support for emancipation is his approval of the deployment of black troops in wars. Rather than viewing blacks as mere slaves, Grant saw them as human beings with rights to life just like those of other races.[1] When Ulysses Grant was elected as president, he signed the 13th Amendment that protects the right of the black people to vote into law (Grant 120).

Grant led his army into fighting the Confederates with his primary objective being to defend the American Union. In his memoirs, Grant narrates how fierce the battles were including the Battle of Belmont where about 450 soldiers were killed.  It is further noted that Grant’s commitment to fighting for and leading the military was because of his allegiance to the United States. He wanted to help prevent the dissolution of the United States and the democracy since many states had already voted to secede, an objective he achieved with the victory against the secession of the southern states. The Union victory brought Grant so much joy as he termed the victory as “the greatest victory of the season” while penning a letter to his wife (Grant 122).

Robert E. Lee

Robert E. Lee, unlike Ulysses Grant, did not support the union as he believed that secession was a constitutional maxim and that they were only using their reserved right (Long and Wright 96). To show his displeasure with the union, Robert Lee resigned from the United States army and instead opted to serve as a commander in Virginia state. He offered support to the Confederate states in their bid to secede. In this regard, he was part of and led his troops to war openly swearing allegiance to his hometown Virginia. Lee’s support for secession was attributed to the fact that he saw this as the only avenue for continuing with slavery (Long and Wright 99).

Moreover, unlike Grant’s family, the family of Lee was at the forefront in enslaving people, especially blacks, and further believed that slaves essential to labor provision. He believed in the authority of the South to own human beings as property because they were black choosing to fight for this cause. In one letter, Lee expressed his view arguing that Blacks were better off in America than in Africa morally, socially and physically, and that the painful discipline they were undergoing was of great benefit to them.[2]

Regarding emancipation, there is no evidence of Lee’s support towards this highlight him as an exact opposite of Ulysses Grant. He played a key role in the separation of families and distributed them to various farms in the hope that the separation would quell the thirst for emancipation (Palmer 130). In one instance, Lee triggered a slave revolt in Arlington farm when he failed to release slaves whose master had died as was expected (American Experience Robert E Lee” n.p.). It is the court’s intervention that gave them their much-awaited freedom. In another instance, Lee invaded Pennsylvania and enslaved free blacks bringing them back to the south as slaves. These instances show that Robert Lee was not a supporter of the emancipation of slaves. Though a feared general, his actions showed that he was fighting for selfish purposes. Robert Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox when it became clear that he could not win against the Northern army led by Grant (Palmer 134). Lee could later argue against the enfranchisement of blacks in the South arguing that they lacked the intellectual capacity of the whites. Although he was defeated, Lee’s opinion towards black slaves hardly changed. It is unfortunate that the dream of uniting America brought no joy to Lee given his hard stance against it (Logue and Barton 157).

Southern White’s Acceptance of Emancipation After the War

It should be noted that Southern whites did not accept emancipation after the war between the north and the south. They were not prepared for a country in which blacks roamed free and enjoyed equal rights to whites. Also, being staunch supporters of slave trade, they were firmly against the fact that the emancipation proclamation led to the freedom of slaves and the abolishment of slavery in the long run. The proclamation did not go well with them as they believed that the slaves were their property just like land. Therefore, conflicts erupted between the southern blacks who saw it right to assert their independence from white control and the whites that wanted to cling to the old order (Kennedy et al. 156). Many Southern whites resorted to violence against the blacks while some attempted to introduce a legal system that would keep the former slaves in a state of servitude.[3] The whites restricted the rights of Blacks and tried to minimize ways through which the Blacks could get economic empowerment. The result was a white supremacist movement, the Ku Klux Klan that oppressed the blacks. Many blacks had their homes burnt, some were lynched, and others were beaten continuously in a bid to frustrate them. Many blacks who went back to schools were also frustrated by the Southern whites. The emancipation was both a blessing and a curse to the blacks. However, not even the brutality faced in the hands of the white supremacists could be matched to their former experience as slaves. The 13th amendment gave them more rights than they ever thought they would get. The white southerners fought, mostly because their farms were tended mainly by the black slaves and the emancipation was going to cause them an economic melt-down.







Works Cited

“American Experience Robert E Lee.” YouTube, YouTube, 8 Oct. 2017,

Grant, Ulysses Simpson. Personal memoirs of US Grant. Courier Corporation, 2012. Retrieved from Accessed November 23, 2017.

Kennedy, David M., Lizabeth Cohen, and Mel Piehl. The brief American pageant: a history of the republic. Cengage Learning, 2016.

Logue, Larry M, and Michael Barton. The Civil War Veteran: A Historical Reader. New York: New York University Press, 2007. Print.

Long, Armistead Lindsay, and Marcus Joseph Wright. Memoirs of Robert E. Lee: His military and personal history. S. Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington, 1886.

Palmer, Michael A. Lee Moves North: Robert E. Lee on the Offensive. New York: John Wiley, 1998. Print.



[1] “American Experience Robert E Lee.” YouTube, YouTube, 8 Oct. 2017,


[2] Long, Armistead Lindsay, and Marcus Joseph Wright 127.


[3] Kennedy, David M., Lizabeth Cohen, and Mel Piehl 159