Ulysses Grant vs Bullies

Ulysses S. Grant, 1865, Ohio History Collection, https://www.ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/p267401coll32/id/11433 


In my post Ulysses S. Grant, the Patient Fighter, I dispelled the myth that Grant was a wrestler. I started reading Ron Chernow's biography Grant with the goal of finishing it before the History Channel mini-series starts on May 25. In this brief post I'd like to share two stories I've encountered that demonstrate Grant stood up to bullies, either against himself or others. Both are from Chernow's book.

As a Boy

"Such a tame boy inevitably became the butt of mockery, and Grant grew sensitive to public humiliation. Never one to initiate a fight, he refused to back down when bullied.

He was roused to fury if sadistic boys tormented an innocent child or a defenseless horse, and smaller boys embraced him as their steadfast protector.

On one occasion, Grant saw a big, oafish boy named Slifer picking on a much smaller boy. '

'Grant stepped forward, rolled up his sleeves, and told Slifer that he shouldn’t fight that little fellow; that if there was any fighting to be done he could fight him,' said a cousin.[43]

Grant never deviated from this philosophy, which he later applied to his eldest son. 'I do not want him to feel afraid to pitch in when boys impose on him but he had better avoid boys who are inclined to quarrel.'"

As a West Point Cadet

"Grant refused to be hazed when a strapping cadet named Jack Lindsay kept shoving him from the squad as they drilled on the parade ground.

When Lindsay pushed him once too often, Grant retaliated by knocking down the larger boy, flattening him with a punch.

In time, Grant, despite his short stature, developed a reputation for a fearless sense of fair play and was regularly approached by other cadets to mediate their disputes.”


Thus far this biography is very well written and includes material I had not encountered elsewhere. Yet, it is also well-sourced, so I can look for references or confirmation if needed. I hope to finish it by May 25, but at over 1,000 pages it is a bit of a challenge!

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