Biography of Famous Alcoholic and President General Ulysses S. Grant

About the famous American president and alcoholic General Ulysses S. Grant, about his struggle with the disease.

GEN. ULYSSES S. GRANT (1822-1885). Commanding general of Union forces in the Civil War, 18th President of the U.S.

Abraham Lincoln, when informed that General Grant drank whiskey while serving in the field during the Civil War, is said to have quipped: "Find out the name of the brand so I can give it to my other generals."

That Grant was a drinking man is well documented, but it is questionable whether the term "alcoholic" accurately applies to him. On one occasion, however, his fondness for whiskey interrupted his military career. Ten years after his graduation from West Point, and after distinguished service in the Mexican War, Captain Grant was stationed at Fort Vancouver, an isolated outpost in Oregon. He was separated from his new wife and a son he had never seen, and in his loneliness he took to excessive drinking. His tippling came to the attention of a superior officer, who demanded that he resign his commission. He was relieved of duty on May 1, 1854.

Grant returned to uniform in 1861 when Lincoln called for Union volunteers. Grant served with such distinction that he soon rose to the rank of general, and in 1864 was put in command of all the Union armies. There was still criticism of his drinking, but President Lincoln let the general's military performance speak for itself.

Grant emerged from the war a national hero and was nominated for the Presidency in 1868. Elected, he served 2 terms and, though he was an unwilling and unpolished politician, he was a popular President. He died of throat cancer at the age of 63.

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