Grant: "The Tanner Boy" and Reconstruction

Leslie Jonathan McNamara, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Reconstruction, as viewed by historians, is usually divided into two distinct periods, "Presidential" and "Congressional," each controlled by a different branch of the United States Government; This approach leaves one major question unanswered: What of Grant, "the tanner boy," and Reconstruction? After all, President Ulysses S. Grant was elected to the office of President of the United States in 1868, and served in that capacity from March 4, 1869, until March 4, 1877, when Rutherford B. Hayes assumed office; Grant: "The Tanner Boy" and Reconstruction answers this question and determines why Grant has been deemed less important than Lincoln, Johnson, or Congress during this period. This thesis examines Grant's plans for reconstructing the Union, his success in implementing them, and his overall impact on Reconstruction. In evaluating these issues, primary attention has been placed upon Grant's presidential presentations, especially his State of the Union addresses and proclamations.