Ulysses S. Grant Lesson for Kids: Facts & Biography

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th president of the United States. Learn about his childhood and his life before, during and after his two terms in the White House.


Have you ever heard the phrase 'Don't judge a book by its cover?' Ulysses S. Grant is a prime example of this concept. In 1822, Ulysses was born to Jesse and Hannah Grant in Ohio. He wasn't a star student and kept to himself most of the time. His quiet nature led some of the other students to nickname him 'Useless.'

A day in the life of a tanner

Ulysses' father, Jesse, made a living as a tanner. Tanners skin animals to make leather. The conditions of the job were unpleasant because there were often dead animals lying around, as well as a smell of chemicals in the air. Jesse often brought Ulysses along with him so he could learn to be a tanner, too. Ulysses hated it and eventually told his dad that he wouldn't go with him anymore.

Instead, he was given the job of raising horses. Ulysses was especially good at this, and his horsemanship skills ended up benefiting him later in life. When he decided to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, he ended up making the Army's cavalry, which was a group of soldiers who fought on horseback.

The Grant Monument

Before the Presidency


While in the Army, Ulysses fought in the Mexican-American War. Despite his original plan to drop out of the military as soon as he could, he ended up fighting in many major battles and showed bravery on multiple occasions. After the war, Ulysses was promoted to first lieutenant, which is a high ranking in the military.

Ulysses then took a break from the military and returned home to run a general store. He married Julia Dent, who was his West Point roommate's sister. Ulysses rejoined the military for the Civil War and continued to see success. Viewed as a war hero, Ulysses became the lead general for the Union, which beat the Confederacy in the Civil War. This eventually led to him being elected the 18th president of the United States.

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