Finding Ulysses in the Big Apple

Presidents—Past, Present, Future—Seem to Love New York

President Ulysses S. Grant lying in state in City Hall, New York City, 1885. Photo credit: National Park Service Manhattan Historic Sites Archive

President Ulysses S. Grant lying in state in City Hall, New York City, 1885. Photo credit: National Park Service Manhattan Historic Sites Archive

Of all the entries on the list of first politicians lured to or born in New York is one that, for me, does not typically conjure associations with the Empire State. Think U.S. presidents associated with New York, and anyone could probably list the Roosevelts and Bill Clinton. The general public would probably be able to point to presidential hopefuls Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as current New Yorkers. Fewer might think of John F. Kennedy as a some-time resident of New York or remember that George Washington spent some quality time here back when New York City was the nation’s capital. One U.S. president whom I don’t associate with New York really at all is U.S. Grant.

Mention Ulysses Grant to me, and I think Civil War. He was born in Ohio and lived as an adult in Illinois. Yet, he had some early ties to New York: He attended West Point (as did Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who graduated years before Grant did). Serving as president from 1869 through 1877 after his Civil War duties, Grant moved to New York City (3 East 66 Street) in 1881. He became president of the Mexican Southern Railroad Company and became a limited partner in an investment firm, Grant and Ward, founded by his son, Ulysses S. Grant, Jr., and Ferdinand Ward.

Junior had a farm in North Salem in Westchester County, and Senior sometimes visited.

Grant's Corners in North Salem, N.Y.

Grant’s Corners in North Salem, N.Y. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Their business, however, did not quite have a happy ending. Ward, trading on the Grant name, speculated investors’ money and the firm went bankrupt. The Grant family wasn’t doing too well as a result. President Grant then worked with Mark Twain to write his memoir but died before it was published.

President Ulysses Grant died in this room in Mount McGregor, N.Y. Photo credit: National Park Service Manhattan Historic Sites Archive

President Ulysses Grant died in this room in Mount McGregor, N.Y. Photo credit: National Park Service Manhattan Historic Sites Archive

Diagnosed with cancer, Grant moved to Mount McGregor (near Saratoga Springs) in 1885, where he died that year at the age of 63. His memoir sold well.

President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia are buried in New York City. Photo credit: National Park Service Manhattan Historic Sites Archive

President Ulysses S. Grant and his wife Julia are buried in New York City. Photo credit: National Park Service Manhattan Historic Sites Archive

He is buried in New York City at what is now known as Grant’s Tomb at Riverside Drive and West 122 Street. Formally known as the General Grant National Memorial, the monument to President Grant is open to the public. His son Frederick is buried at West Point.

The Grant family plot at West Point Cemetery. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

The Grant family plot at West Point Cemetery. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Ulysses Grant's son Frederick is buried at West Point Cemetery. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Ulysses Grant’s son Frederick is buried at West Point Cemetery. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Surprised that so much of President Grant remains in New York? You might be even more surprised that his presidential library is located in Mississippi.

Where to Find Ulysses S. Grant in New York:

3 East 66 Street, New York, NY 10065

Grant’s Corners, June Road and Route 121, North Salem, NY

Grant Cottage State Historic Site, 1000 Mt. McGregor Road, Wilton, NY 12831

General Grant National Memorial, Riverside Drive and West 122 Street, New York City

West Point Cemetery, United States Military Academy, 329 Washington Road, West Point, NY 10996

—Lori Tripoli

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