Brown, Blunt introduce legislation honoring Ulysses S. Grant

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 25, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, introduced on Monday the bipartisan Ulysses S. Grant Bicentennial Recognition Act.

The legislation requests President Joe Biden posthumously promote Grant — a southwest Ohio native born in Point Pleasant on April 27, 1822, and raised in Georgetown, Ohio — to General of the Armies of the United States, the highest rank in the U.S. Army.

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Missouri, introduced companion legislation in the House.

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“President Ulysses S. Grant, a son of Ohio, served his nation with honor and distinction,” Brown said in a news release. “Grant’s exemplary leadership on the battlefield could only be overshadowed by his commitment to a more just nation for all Americans during the Reconstruction Era. I’m proud to introduce this resolution to recognize President Grant’s many accomplishments as we begin to plan a bicentennial celebration honoring his service 200 years after his birth in Point Pleasant, Ohio.”

Then-Colonel Grant first received word of his promotion to Brigadier General from a posting in the Daily Missouri Democrat newspaper in 1861.

According to biographer Ron Chernow, this marked a pivotal moment in Grant’s life; prior to this promotion, Grant had largely experienced challenges, setbacks, and outright failures in his professional life. From that moment on, Grant’s integrity and leadership propelled him to commander of the Union Army, and ultimately leader of the nation as our 18th president.

The grade of General of the Armies of the United States was first established by Congress in 1799 as the highest rank in the U.S. Army. However, then-President John Adams refused to appoint anyone to the position because the U.S. was not at war. The grade was dissolved in 1802, when Congress passed the Military Peace Establishment Act without reference to the grade.

In 1866, Congress established the grade of “General of the Army of the United States” as the highest rank in the U.S. Army, and Grant was immediately appointed to the position. In 1919, Congress authorized the president to appoint John Pershing to the grade of “General of the Armies of the United States” for his role in commanding military forces during World War I.

Significant confusion arose between the previously established “General of the Army” (the position Grant held) and “General of the Armies” (the position created in 1799, then re-established in 1919). In 1976, Congress clarified that “General of the Armies of the United States” is the highest rank in the U.S. Army when it posthumously promoted George Washington to the grade in honor of the nation’s bicentennial.

The Ulysses S. Grant Bicentennial Recognition Act would promote Grant to the same rank as George Washington.