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On the Money But Out of Favor

April 27, 2015

When Ulysses S. Grant retired from office in 1877, it had been 40 years since a President served two full terms. During the 48-year period from 1789 to 1837 there were seven Presidents, five of whom served two full terms. All the two-termers were from the South.

During the next 40 years there would be 11 Presidents. Lincoln was the first of these to win re-election, but he was assassinated. Grant became the first Northerner to serve two full terms. There would not be another Republican two-termer until after World War II.

If Grant had run in 1876, he probably would have been elected to a third consecutive term. His friends put him forth in 1880, but he lost the nomination on the 36th ballot to James Garfield, who then became President.

April 27 is Grant’s birthday. Most historians say he was a bad President. They point to scandals that had nothing to do with him personally. They write as though no President before Grant had ever employed political patronage. They overlook his outstanding record on civil rights and often fail to mention that, as President, he took executive action which destroyed the original Ku Klux Klan. It would be another 70 years before a U.S. President would use his office for the same purposes, to the same extent, and with such success.

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