All About Grant
Ulysses S. Grant, Galena’s most famous citizen, has an extremely strong tie to Galena. While his years here weren’t many, they definitely followed his journey from a store clerk to a top Union general in the Civil War to winning the presidential election. Lincoln was even around to support him! So as we enter another election year and you want to dig up some dirt on U.S. Presidents and see how past campaigns were ran… Galena is a great place to start.
How Grant Came to Galena
Grant and his family moved to town in 1860, one year before the outbreak of the Civil War. He worked at his father’s leather goods store, Grant & Perkins, for about $600 a year. At the Galena & U.S. Grant Museum, you can see Grant’s boot, cigar, and bow tie; explore his relationships with his fellow Galenians; and witness a mockup of the leather store in which Grant got his start.
Grant’s Rise to General
Because Grant was a West Point graduate, when the Civil War broke out, Grant was made colonel of the 21st Illinois Volunteers, leading many of Galena’s sons into war. Shortly after that, President Lincoln made Grant brigadier general. As his leadership lead to victory after victory over the Confederate army, Grants rise in ranks and celebrity war hero status was firmly secured. He even used his social network to reach out to many leaders and entrepreneurs in Galena to join him in the Civil War’s efforts. This resulted in nine generals coming from Galena during the Civil War, a fact you can witness in Thomas Nasts’ Peace the Union painting at the Galena and U.S. Grant Museum.
From War Hero to President
Following Grant’s success in the Civil War, many people told him he should run for President and help restructure and bring balance to the country again. In 1868, Grant ran for president. His campaign headquarters were located at the DeSoto House Hotel and he learned he was elected the 18th President of the United States in the library of Elihu B. Washburne’s house, now a state historic site. Grant was only 46 when he was elected President, which made him the youngest president-elect in U.S. history up to that time.