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Ulysess S Grant as President

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In 1868, with the nation was still struggling to heal the wounds of war. General Ulysses S. Grant, the symbol of Union victory during the Civil War, accepted the Republican presidential nomination as their logical choice for President. As President, Grant led the Government much the same as he had led the Army. He brought part of his Army staff to the White House who eventually became affectionately known as "the Old Guard." During his two terms, Grant was faced with many difficulties such as the reconstruction of the United States and the racial battles that followed, to economic struggles that wreaked havoc on the stability of the nation's currency.

Grant came into office during an incredibly difficult time in American history. He was determined to follow Lincoln's policy of reconciliation with the South rather than one of retribution or appeasement. He also came to believe that the federal government had to preserve the sacrifices of the war by protecting African Americans from racist Southern governments and ensuring that their rights were protected.

Racism ran wild in much of American society, and although the North supported the abolishment of slavery, many Americans did not see African Americans as equals. Many Americans, both Northern and Southern, rejected the civil and political rights of African Americans. In Grants inaugural speech, he urged the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment, which would give citizens the right to vote regardless of race or previous servitude, and he worked persistently to ratify the amendment. In 1870, Congress passed laws to help protect the citizens, regardless of race, right to vote; one of these laws was the Ku Klux Klan Act. The law was signed by Grant in order to combat the increase in domestic terrorist activity in the South.

Grant was also faced with a huge economic problem during his first term. During the Civil War, the government had issued an excess of paper money to finance its wartime spending. The paper currency was backed by faith in the federal government and was an inflationary force that helped to destabilize the economy. In 1869, two New York speculators, Jay Gould and James Fisk, came up with a plan to corner the gold market. When Grant realized their plan, he authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to sell enough gold to disrupt their plans, but the speculation had already wreaked havoc with businesses. This action caused a crash in the price of gold and resulted in financial ruin for many investors.

After his reelection in 1872, Grant faced a new fiscal challenge when the Panic of 1873. The panic began when various Wall Street firms started going under and led to failing banks, increased bankruptcies, rising unemployment, and lost farms. Many people argued that expanding the money supply would improve the economic situation and help end the depression. Although Grant initially intended to sign the bill, he later changed his mind and



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