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Blunt, Wagner Announce Legislation to Honor Ulysses S. Grant

September 17, 2021

WASHINGTONToday, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) and U.S. Representative Ann Wagner (Mo.), Chair of the House Suburban Caucus, announced their bicameral Ulysses S. Grant Bicentennial Recognition Act. The legislation requests President Biden to posthumously promote Grant to General of the Armies of the United States, the highest rank in the U.S. Army.

“I’m proud to join Congresswoman Ann Wagner in this effort to honor Ulysses S. Grant and his efforts to preserve and defend our Union,” said Blunt. “Despite the personal setbacks he faced in his life, when Grant was called to serve he did so with courage, integrity, and determination that led his troops – and our nation –  to victory. As we approach the bicentennial of Grant’s birth early next year, this is a fitting moment to reflect on his fight for a more perfect Union, and honor his legacy and the legacy of all of the service members who have fought for this nation and the values we stand for.”

“At a time when our nation was the most divided it has ever been, Ulysses S. Grant not only answered the call of duty, but also helped recruit volunteers to protect our union,” said Wagner. “He rose through the ranks of the Army with incredible speed due to his tenacity, grit, and unwavering resolve to keep our nation united. The brave soldiers under his command achieved numerous victories and suffered painful defeats; but Grant kept marching and kept fighting, because he knew failure was not an option. Without Grant’s leadership and perseverance, the very fabric of our nation may have been lost.”

“General Ulysses S. Grant was the principal author of Union victory during the Civil War,” said the Grant Monument Association and the Ulysses S. Grant Association. “His achievements on the battlefield ensured the very survival of our nation amid the greatest threat it had ever faced. Many historians rightfully regard him as not only the most capable and accomplished general in American history, but also one of the great military commanders in world history. So it is only fitting that, as was done for George Washington during the nation’s bicentennial in 1976, General Grant posthumously be accorded the army’s highest rank—and there is no better time to do so than during the Grant bicentennial in 2022. The Ulysses S. Grant Association and Grant Monument Association offer our deepest thanks to Representative Ann Wagner and Senator Roy Blunt for introducing the Ulysses S. Grant Bicentennial Recognition Act as a much needed recognition of an important historical anniversary. We urge the House and Senate to pass this legislation, and President Joe Biden to make the requested appointment, in time for Grant’s 200th birthday on April 27, 2022.”

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.


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