Ulysses S. Grant shares presidential path with Donald Trump

Remembering Ohio-born war hero on Presidents Day
Posted at 6:24 PM, Feb 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-20 18:37:09-05

POINT PLEASANT, Ohio - A man who never held political office runs for president because he doesn't trust the politicians in Washington. And he gets elected.

That doesn’t just describe Donald Trump's rise to power. It was also the case about 150 years ago.

Civil War hero Gen. Ulysses S. Grant went from a small white house in Point Pleasant, 25 miles east of Cincinnati, to the White House. The steps on that remarkable journey have something to show us on Presidents Day 150 years later.

 “The reason he accepted the nomination of the Republicans in 1868 is because he thought the politicians would not bring the country forward into a new birth of freedom,” says Greg Roberts of Historic New Richmond Inc., which manages Grant’s birthplace.

Like Trump, Grant used his celebrity to propel him to the highest office in the land.

”There are more than 300 photographs of Grant which was more than any other human being in the 19th Century. The paparazzi loved him,” Roberts told WCPO Monday.

Of course, Grant hadn't come by that fame easily.

“Lincoln was given most of the credit for ending slavery but it was really Grant and his armies that made it happen,” said Roberts. “But he was humble.”

Grant served two terms as president, but those years have always been overshadowed by what he did as a Union general. But Robert says people are starting to make a closer of examination of Grant’s time in office.

“Modern historians are looking at Grant in a different light in terms of what he stood for and what he accomplished,” Roberts said.

Grant did much to keep the country together after the Civil War while pushing it forward, Roberts said.

“He was committed not only to ending slavery but also trying to instill full equal rights for the newly freed slaves.”

But even Grant with all of his fame could only do so much.

“Grant as president inherited a still divided country. And, of course, we’re still divided,” Roberts said.