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Frederick Dent Grant
Grant in 1908
Born (1850-05-30)May 30, 1850
Died April 12, 1912(1912-04-12) (aged 61)
Place of birth St. Louis, Missouri
Place of death Governors Island, New York
Buried at West Point Cemetery
United States Military Academy
West Point, New York
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1871–1881, 1898–1912
Rank Major General
Unit 4th Cavalry Regiment
Commands held 14th New York Volunteers
Department of the East

Indian Wars

Spanish-American War
Philippine-American War
Relations Ulysses S. Grant (father)
Julia Grant (mother)
Julia Dent Grant (daughter)
Ulysses S. Grant III (son)
Other work Civil engineer, businessman, minister to Austria-Hungary, police commissioner

Frederick Dent Grant (May 30, 1850 – April 12, 1912) was a soldier and United States minister to Austria-Hungary. Grant was the first son of General of the Army and President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Grant. He was named after his uncle, Frederick Tracy Dent. The Grant family came from a line of Scottish and Irish heritage.

Early life[edit | edit source]

His father was in the United States Army when Frederick was born in St. Louis, Missouri. The family moved as the senior Grant was assigned to posts in Michigan and New York. Frederick spent his early childhood at his paternal grandparent's house while his father was stationed on the West Coast. After his father's resignation from the army, the family lived in St. Louis and in Galena, Illinois. He attended public school in Galena until the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861. Grant's father organized a volunteer regiment and was made colonel. Frederick accompanied his father when the regiment was sent to northern Missouri, but he was sent home when it arrived. He then rejoined his father off and on at several campaigns during the war.

Early military career[edit | edit source]

Grant was appointed to West Point in 1866 and graduated in 1871.[1] He was assigned to the 4th U.S. Cavalry Regiment. He took a leave of absence to work with the Union Pacific Railroad as a civil engineer. Late in 1871, he was aide-de-camp to General William Tecumseh Sherman in Europe. He rejoined the 4th Cavalry in Texas in 1872.

In 1873, he was assigned to the staff of General Philip Sheridan and promoted to lieutenant colonel. He was on the Yellowstone Expedition and was with George Armstrong Custer during the Black Hills expedition. In 1874, Grant married Ida Marie Honoré (1854–1930), the daughter of Henry Hamilton Honoré, who made his fortune in Chicago real estate. They were married in Chicago and had two children: Julia Dent Grant (born 1876) and Ulysses III (born 1881). (Note: Ulysses IV was the son of Ulysses S. (Buck) Grant, Jr.)

The birth of his first child, Julia Dent Grant, in essence saved his life. Grant received leave to travel from Custer's unit in the Black Hills of South Dakota to Washington, D.C. for her birth. Had he remained with Custer's unit, he would have been in the Battle of the Little Bighorn (June 24–25, 1876) in which Custer and five companies of the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army were killed. {{This cannot be correct as Custer, accompanied by Grant (who was accused of drunkedness by some other members of the expedition), was in the Black Hills in 1874 (not 1876) The 7th Cavalry under the command of Custer left Ft. Abraham Lincoln in May 1876 as the Yellowstone part of the summer campaign of 1876. Neither it nor Custer was in the Black Hills at any time after the summer of 1874.}}

In 1877, he took a leave of absence to accompany his father on a trip around the world. In 1878, Grant was in the Bannock War and was in the fight against Victorio in New Mexico.

West Point controversy[edit | edit source]

On June 1, 1870, the first African American cadet, James Webster Smith, from South Carolina, was admitted into the United States Military Academy. Smith was sponsored by Senator Adelbert Ames and nominated by Representative Solomon L. Hoge. Smith was hand picked for his outstanding character and scholarly ability by David Clark, a northern philanthropist. While at West Point, Smith was forced to endure immense racism, violence, and shunning by other West Point attendees. Among Smith's harassers included Frederick Dent Grant, a fellow cadet. The instigators, including Fred, were intent on driving Smith from the Academy.[2]

Smith wrote to Clark about the racial hazing, whereupon Clark went to the White House to talk with President Grant. Fred was also at the meeting between Clark and the President. Clark advocated that Grant stop the hazing. Grant said, "Don't take him away; the battle may as well be now as anytime." The young Fred was noted to say in front of his father, "the time had not come to send colored boys to West Point." When Clark disagreed, Fred said, "Well, no damned n***** will ever graduate from West Point." Smith was later discharged after failing an unconventional private examination test by Professor Peter S. Mitchie. While Fred Grant denied being a leader of the cadets who hazed Smith for being an African American, there is evidence to suggest he actively participated.[2]

Civilian career[edit | edit source]

He resigned from the army in 1881,[1] and assisted his father in preparing the latter's memoirs. During this time, he was in business in New York City. In 1887, he ran on the Republican ticket for Secretary of State of New York, but was defeated by the Democratic incumbent Frederick Cook.

In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison appointed him Minister to Austria-Hungary. After Grover Cleveland became president, Grant was allowed to continue in his post. Grant resigned in 1893.[3]

Grant became a commissioner of police in New York City in 1894, an office he held until 1898. He served alongside future President Theodore Roosevelt.[1][4]

He was a hereditary member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States and the Society of Colonial Wars.

Later military career[edit | edit source]

Grant and his wife Ida in 1905

When the Spanish-American War started in 1898, Grant was colonel of the 14th New York Volunteers and was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers.[1] He served in Puerto Rico. In 1899, Grant was sent to the Philippines for service in the Philippine-American War, where he remained until 1902. In 1901, he was made a brigadier general in the Regular Army. When he returned to the United States, he held various commands and was promoted to major general in 1906.[1] At the time of his death, he was the commander for the Eastern Division which included the Department of the East and the Department of the Gulf. He died of cancer, the same disease that had claimed his father, at Fort Jay on Governors Island in New York City on April 12, 1912, and was buried in West Point Cemetery.

References[edit | edit source]

  • The National Cyclopædia of American Biography. (1916) Vol. XV. New York: James T. White & Co., pp. 93–94.

External links[edit | edit source]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Alexander R. Lawton
U.S. Minister to Austria-Hungary
1889 - 1893
Succeeded by
Bartlett Tripp

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