The birth of a son to Jesse R. Grant and Hannah Simpson Grant on April 27, 1822, at Pt. Pleasant, Ohio, brought about an animated family conference on the subject of his name. The baby's maternal grandmother and father favored Ulysses, since both had recently read a novel in which the legendary Greek hero appeared. The maternal grandfather argued for the sturdy Biblical name of Hiram. The mother and aunt preferred Albert, in honor of the distinguished statesman, Albert Gallatin, while another aunt clung to the romantic Theodore. Finally, the matter was decided by having each put a name in a hat. Although the name drawn was Ulysses, it was finally decided that the baptismal name would be Hiram Ulysses Grant, to satisfy both grandparents. But Jesse chose to call his son Ulysses, and gradually Hiram was forgotten. The boy's contemporaries called him Ulyss or Lyss, although some corrupted the name to "Useless." In 1839, Jesse Grant asked Congressman Thomas L. Hamer to appoint his son Ulysses to West Point. Hamer apparently believed that any boy deserving his recommendation also deserved a middle initial. Either because Hamer remembered that the mother's maiden name was Simpson, or because he confused Ulysses with his younger brother, Simpson, he appointed Ulysses S. Grant to West Point. Ulysses knew nothing of the change Hamer had made in his name. While preparing a trunk for his journey by pounding brass tacks into the top to form his initials, he realized that his classmates, much given to rough banter anyway, would make disastrous use of "H.U.G." He decided to reverse his first two names and call himself Ulysses Hiram Grant, and used that name to sign the register at West Point. But officers insisted that no such person had been appointed; only Ulysses S. Grant was entitled to enroll. Ulysses' protests were fruitless, and in the fall he signed a certificate of enlistment as U. S. Grant. Although the army had given him a name he had to accept officially, for the four years of his cadetship he continued to sign his private correspondence U. H. Grant. After he had received a diploma and a commission as Ulysses S. Grant, however, he abandoned [pg. 6] his chosen name for the army issue. His classmates had used the initials anyway, and called him "Uncle Sam" at first, but later settled on "Sam".
Because this message is archived you cannot respond to it.