Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Eight Years

I’m reading all this stuff about the Civil War lately, based in part on a string of really decent books that have come into my possession on the subject. So I’m really kind of a novice about all this. Sure, I studied it all in high school. But that was, like, ages ago. And we never went into such depth as these books are going, hand in hand with, uh, me.

The first thing that really, really struck me was the meteoric rise of Ulysses S. Grant (and I know his actual name is Hiram Ulysses Grant). Consider this:

At the start of the Civil War, April of 1861, Grant, having failed at a first go in the military, farming, and bill collecting, was working as a clerk in his father’s tannery shop run by his younger brother.

Just about three years later, in March of 1864, Lincoln had made Grant the commanding General of the entire Union army.

Five years after that, on March 4, 1869, Grant was sworn in as the 18th president of the United States.

Eight years from a guy not trusted to run his old man’s store to a man running the United States of America, after having decisively exercised the military muscle to keep the union whole.

The accomplishment curve doesn’t get much steeper than that. I could never, ever imagine myself as President in 2020, but the rise would be no less meteoric than Grant’s. Plus, I’d have just as troubled a presidency as he did, what with all the fish-outta-water similarities.

Anyway, this rags-to-riches angle to General Grant quite impressed me.

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