Bad Presidents pp 115-131 | Cite as

The First Bad “Hidden-Hand” President: Ulysses S. Grant

  • Philip Abbott
Part of the The Evolving American Presidency Series book series (EAP)


If Johnson was a bad president, perhaps one of the worst, was his successor any better? With just a few exceptions, Grant ranks close to the very bottom in performance. Worse perhaps, Grant has a single negative signifier attached to his presidency—corruption. Yet Grant was reelected with 56 percent of the popular vote. When he left office, Grant went on a world tour lasting two years in which he was greeted warmly by international royalty. He received significant support for a third term in 1879. His portrait appears on both the $50 bill and a postage stamp, honors accorded to few former presidents. Was Grant simply a victim of the times in which the office was in eclipse, a victim of unscrupulous advisors, or a victim, as he himself admitted, of inexperience? Or, was Grant in some way an architect of his badness? Or, was Grant really not so bad after all?


Political Corruption Internal Revenue Service Postage Stamp Grant Administration Civil Service Examination 
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  1. 1.
    See Brooks D. Simpson, Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph over Adversity, 1822–1865 (Boston: Houghton: Mifflin, 2000), pp. 457–65, for a review of Grant’s critics and defenders.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams (New York: Modern Library, 1918), p. 260.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Ulysses S. Grant, “First Inaugural Address,” in John Gabriel Hunt, ed., The Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents (New York: Gramercy Books, 1995), pp. 208.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
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© Philip Abbott 2013

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  • Philip Abbott

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