War and Peace (2012)
Grant's entry to the world of post-Civil War politics occurred very quickly. General WilliamTecumseh Sherman negotiated a surrender with the Confederate general Joseph Johnston (after Appomattox) without consulting President Lincoln, SecWar Stanton, or General Grant. Even by Grant's standard, Sherman's surrender terms were viewed as far too generous, and actually set up post-Civil War Reconstruction policies at the state level contrary to what the Republican leadership wanted. General-in-Chief Grant was in a political pickle: SecWar Stanton, his superior, wanted Sherman demoted, or even cashiered, but Grant wanted Sherman to remain at his current rank. SecWar Stanton honored Grant's request to allow Sherman to remain, but Stanton decided to embarrass Sherman politically by basically insulting his intelligence in the newspapers. Sherman never forgot that Grant supported him, and he never forgave SecWar Stanton for what he considered libel.
While this political kettle was boiling, President Lincoln was assassinated. Mary Todd Lincoln had assumed that the Grants would attend "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theater with her and the President - advertisements had already been released stating that the Grants would do so. Julia Grant had her heart set on visiting family, and despite her husband's demanding schedule, had made arrangements for the trip. With General Grant away from home, Julia received a message from Mary Todd Lincoln on 14 April, 1865, which indicated that it was a forgone conclusion that the Grants would alter their plans and attend the play that night, in just a few hours. While General Grant would have been very receptive to the idea of going to the theater with Lincoln, a man he truly admired and respected, Julia made the executive decision that they would not attend the play. Julia's decision was based on a very simple reason - she had learned to despise the First Lady, intensely. She adamantly refused to alter her plans to suit Mary Todd Lincoln, and it's not clear whether General Grant knew at that time what had just transpired. On their way to visit family, the Grants were told of the assassination, and Grant had to immediately return to Washington, D.C. to help bring order out the chaos of Lincoln's Assassination.
It must have been a difficult transition for Grant to serve as General-in-Chief in the Andrew Johnson administration after serving with Lincoln. In short, Grant didn't like or respect the President, but he tried his best to respect and serve the position - Johnson didn't make that very easy for Grant. During the off-year elections of 1866, Grant had reluctantly decided to accept Johnson's invitation to travel with the President as he campaigned against the Radical Republicans, trying to reduce their influence in Congress. It didn't take Grant long to determine that his role was in essence to be the "Celebrity-in-Chief", helping Johnson sway as many voters as possible by simply being seen. As Grant heard Johnson speak during this campaign, he decided that he wanted to be as neutral (and as invisible) as possible, which was politically impossible. The end-result for Johnson's efforts were that the Radical Republicans(who wanted to punish the Southern states for the Civil War while advancing civil rights for African-Americans) gained a significant number or seats in the House, and a few in the Senate. Johnson's campaign strategy had backfired, but Grant fortunately remained politically unscathed, unlike the President.
President Johnson had another plan in store that would actually lead Grant to believe he would go to jail if he continued to honor the President's wishes. In early-1868, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act, which was designed to insure that SecWar Stanton, a Radical Republican, remained in Johnson's Cabinet. The law, passed over Johnson's veto, required the President to involve Congress in the removal of a Cabinet member. Johnson, smart-but-stubborn, decided to challenge the law, and suspended Stanton while Congress was not in session - which technically meant he didn't violate the Tenure of Office Act. But in the world of "High Crimes and Misdemeanors", violating the spirit of the act was enough for the House to impeach Johnson. Grant, in the meantime, was appointed by Johnson to be the interim SecWar in Stanton's absence. Grant did not have any desire to become the SecWar on a permanent basis, and as the drama unfolded, he didn't want to be the Acting SecWar either. After Johnson survived removal in the Senate by one vote, 35-19 (he was never in any danger of being removed - the Moderate Republicans did not want the Pro Tem of the Senate, Benjamin Wade, as the next president). It soon dawned on Grant that Congress could, if they followed the letter of the law, actually put him in jail since he was Stanton's replacement. The whole unsavory episode for Grant ended after Johnson's acquittal in the Senate (after three 35-19 votes!); Johnson, now a confirmed lame-duck president, decided that he wasn't going to challenge Radical Republican policies, and Grant went back to only having one duty, General-in-Chief.
During the Civil War in 1864 the Sand Creek Massacre occurred in Colorado. Colonel Chivington and his small Union army soundly defeated Native warriors from the Arapahoe and Cheyenne nations. While historians have long debated the significance of Sand Creek in the Civil War, what is certain is that Sand Creek was the touchstone for organized Native resistance on the Great Plains after the Civil War. As early as 1865, the Cheyenne allied themselves with the Lakota nation in the Northern Plains, and U.S. forts north of Fort Laramie were attacked. By 1868, the Lakota leader Red Cloud, and his chief lieutenant, Crazy Horse, had gained total control of the Bozeman Trail, and General Grant ordered a tactical retreat, abandoning those forts on the trail. Ironically, Red Cloud had actually won a war against the U.S. military, with Grant in overall command. Given the impact and profusion of railroads in that part of America, Red Cloud's victory would be short-lived, but Grant, in the short-term, was forced on the defensive, and was politically criticized for his strategy.
General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant was nominated by acclamation during the Republican National Convention in the summer of 1868. The Democratic National Convention, on the other hand, needed over a dozen ballots before they were able to nominate Horatio Seymour as their candidate. The presidential candidates of 1868 provided a stark choice for voters - Seymour's campaign slogan of "It is a White Man's Nation; Let White Men Rule", versus Grant's "Let Us Have Peace". Grant, like virtually every prior presidential candidate, didn't actively campaign; he spent most of his time between the convention and the election in his hometown of Galena, Illinois. While Grant won the popular vote by a margin of 300,000, his margin of victory in the Electoral College in the Election of 1868 was much greater. Not only was Grant's accomplishments and celebrity in play, but the Democratic Party would be associated with disunion for a few more presidential elections (it wouldn't be until 1884 that a Democratic candidate, Grover Cleveland, would win a presidential election).
On 4 March, 1869, Grant was inaugurated as the 18th President of the United States. In his inaugural address, Grant stated his desire that the U.S. should return to the Gold Standard is soon as possible (the "Greenbacks" of the Civil War were not backed up by gold). He also stated that African-Americans (men) needed and deserved the right to vote, and that a 15th Amendment to the Constitution should be proposed, and then ratified. For many Americans in the North and South, it seemed to them that the new President was moving too fast for the times, in that there was still significant concern about the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. While most people today focus on the 14th Amendment's "Equal Protection Under the Law" clause, there is another aspect to the amendment that had millions of Americans after the Civil War concerned. By making African-Americans citizens, the "3/5's Compromise" contained in the Constitution was essentially nullified. The battle over how to count African-Americans for representation in Congress resumed, 92 years after the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Southern states wanted to count African-Americans as citizens, without granting them the right to vote, gaining power in the House, and maintaining power at home. Northern states were deeply conflicted, in that they didn't want to establish a precedent that African-Americans were eligible to vote, but they certainly didn't want the South to dominate the House of Representatives. A compromise was reached: States could only count African-Americans as citizens if they were given the right to vote. Republicans in Congress believed that the "enforcement clause" to the 14th Amendment (Section 5) would be a sufficient deterrent if any state refused to follow through on the agreed interpretation.
The Republicans in the new Congress and the new President would soon find out that such language didn't provide any actual deterrence in the South. Grant became President during a time when the Republicans were looking deep into the future concerning African-American Civil Rights and economic expansion, while Democrats were looking to the past, trying to re-create their traditional social order that existed before the Civil War.