Ulysses S. Grant is a puzzling figure in American history. The 18th president of the United States had rampant corruption associated with his administration, but he was a decorated war hero famous for turning serious attacks by the Confederate Army into victories for the Union and for implementing simultaneous attacks against the South that led to its surrender. He became a national figure overnight when he captured Forts Henry and Donelson and was given the nickname 'Unconditional Surrender' Grant after 12,000 Confederates surrendered under his harsh conditions of 'no terms except unconditional and immediate surrender'.After the war, Grant achieved the distinction of being promoted to the equivalent of a four-star general. In recent years, his reputation as president has improved somewhat among scholars due to his support for civil rights and his prosecution of the Ku Klux Klan. Grant also signed a bill into law making Christmas a federal holiday in 1870, and another that created America's first national park, Yellowstone, in 1872.
Samuel Willard Crompton is a major contributor to the American National Biography and the Encyclopedia of American Lives. Crompton lives and works in the Berkshire Hills of his native western Massachusetts.