Life has those unfortunate moments when things fall out of place, and failure washes away years of hard work. These difficulties are extremely challenging to endure. Still, it is possible to rise from the ashes and achieve the greatness you once held. One example is Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th president of the United States.
After a decorated life in the U.S. army and politics, Ulysses S. Grant lost all his money in an investment scam and was diagnosed with throat cancer. Against all the odds, he fought through his misfortunes and secured his family’s financial future.
Ulysses S. Grant was born in Ohio in 1822 to hard-working parents, who made a living farming and tanning. Growing up, his father often tasked him with tending to the horses. As a result, he developed a remarkable skill in horsemanship.
Grant attended the United States Military Academy and soon after joined the military. He was deployed to fight in the Mexican War, where he was cited twice for his bravery and appointed quartermaster for his regiment.
When the War ended, he was transferred to Detroit, New York, Oregon, and later California. Tired of being away from his young family, Grant resigned from the army, having served for 14 years.
From Grass to Glory
With the military presumably behind him, Grant moved to Missouri, where he tried to start life on a farm. As his family grew, he began struggling to support it. He attempted several jobs and finally moved to Illinois to work in his younger brother’s tanning shop.
Grant was barely scraping by when the Civil War started in 1861. Like many experienced Army officers, his skills were in high demand. As a new regiment leader, he demonstrated great military prowess to become one of the Union’s top commanders. By the end of the war, Grant had won enough battles to emerge an undisputed hero.
Grant’s status as a war hero opened the doors to politics, and he became the US president in 1868. In only seven years, he had come from being a tanning assistant to a United States president!
Losing it All
Ulysses S. Grant did reasonably well as a post-war president. But, corruption increased, and economic depression gripped the country. After serving two terms, he announced his retirement from active politics.
Grant spent the first three years of his retirement traveling around the world. When he returned home, he had depleted most of his savings. To earn money, he partnered with two friends to charter the Mexican Southern Railroad. Yet, the railroad soon fell into bankruptcy.
Desperate, Grant turned his attention to Wall Street and invested all his remaining money in a brokerage firm. Unbeknownst to him, the company’s founder, Ferdinand Ward, was defrauding investors. Ward convinced Grant to take a $150,000 personal loan to make more investment, only to take off and leave the firm in ruin. Penniless, Grant sold his home and Civil War mementos to clear his debts.
“I did not think I could ever trust any human being again,” he uttered, recalling Ward’s deception.
The Will Of A Dying Man
In 1884, Ulysses S. Grant was diagnosed with advanced throat cancer. He worried that his family would have little to live on after his death. Refusing to accept his fate, Grant pondered his next move. He decided to reach into his past and write inspiring memoirs of his army experiences.
Grant sought a publishing deal from author and publisher Mark Twain. He then proceeded to work intensely on his memoirs. Despite participating in countless fierce battles, Grant’s relentless push to finish writing amid tremendous pain was arguably the most remarkable fight of his life.
Miraculously, Grant delivered the finished manuscript days before he died. Dubbed “The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant,” the memoirs were a massive success. His wife received half a million dollars in royalties, effectively ending the family’s financial struggles.
The takeaway is this:
Ulysses S. Grant is a fine example of someone that did not submit to failure. He showed immense drive during the worst times of his life and achieved a near-impossible goal in the end.
If your financial fortunes have turned sour and you’re nearing the end of your rope, gather the strength to keep pushing. As long as you are breathing, it is not too late.
“When I started to do anything, I resolved not to stop until I finished.”
Ulysses S. Grant