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young animals, but he could never be engaged for money. A neighbor had a fine colt which he could not teach to pace. He wanted young Grant to try his hand at teaching him, and was willing to pay handsomely. The boy would not hire himself. So he was engaged to carry a letter to a town some distance away, the colt to be ridden. After he was mounted and had started, the neighbor called out to him, “ Please each that colt to pace.” He returned the horse at night a perfect pacer, but having found out that the letter was simply a sham, he could never afterward be persuaded to teach a horse to pace.
The coolness, judgment and signal readiness in an emergency which afterward characterized his career as a soldier and general, was displayed at the age of twelve, in crossing the swollen waters of White Oak creek. He was driving a light wagon and pair of horses. In the wagon were two young ladies. The horses got beyond their depth and the alarmed ladies began to scream.
“Keep quiet! Keep quiet!” shouted the perfectly selfpossessed boy, “I'll take you safely through.”
At this time his father had taken a contract to build a jail for the county. It was to be of timbers, and the boy undertook to haul the logs. His father consented, not thinking the task possible without help. To his surprise the big logs began to come faster even than the workman needed them. On going to the woods to inspect matters he found the boy using the horses to load with. He had erected an ingenious slide or gangway, one end on the ground, the other as high as the wagon, and by means of chains was making the horses roll the heavy logs up to their place on the wagon. The father saw that the boy was quite equal to the emergency.
Though fond of games and all boyhood sports, he was modest and retiring. Yet his even temper and resolute spirit gained him the respect and confidence of his companions and
made him a natural leader among them. His modesty amounted to shrinking when in the company of older persons. This amiable, patient, cheerful, modest, light-hearted boy, was no laggard in his classes. Though opportunity for schooling was limited, he learned easily and well, and was quite apt in mathematics.
Though peaceful, he never permitted himself to be imposed upon. Many instances are given to prove the fullness of his courage, his good sense and self-reliance. His innate sense of justice always inclined him to the weaker side in schoolboy controversies, and he fought his cause through on the line chosen at every hazard.
However great the provocation, or however intense his anger, his father says he never knew him to utter a harsher phrase than “Confound it!” This was sufficient for his quiet, suppressed wrath, yet it meant far more than the roystering expletives of the Hectors of the village school or even of the larger school of life.
Industrious as he was, he did not like the business of tanning. He would learn the trade, but not to follow it. He inclined to trade in the Southern States. His father suggested West Point. This was something new, and he assented to it. The last official act of Hon. Thomas L. Hamer was to nominate to the Secretary of War Ulysses S. Grant, as a suitable person to receive the appointment of cadet at the United States Military Academy.
And here came the confusion of Christian names, probably through the inadvertence of the member of Congress, who omitted Hiram and, knowing the mother's maiden name to be Simpson, ran its initial in with that of Ulysses. The cadet warrant was made out in the name of Ulysses S. Grant. Trusting to getting the matter fixed in the near future, the young man entered the academy and began his military education. But it was one of those things that would not fix very
easily. The “U. S.” was too suggestive for his comrades to lose sight of. He was nick-named Uncle Sam, and the familiar appellation has been ringing among army comrades ever since.
He never regarded the “S” as any legal part of his name.
He entered West Point, July 1st, 1839, at the age of seventeen. Though his previous education had been limited, he passed the examination readily. He never rose to a high position in his class, except in mathematics, engineering and military science. But he excelled in all military exercises, horsemanship and cavalry drill.
He was a quietly good-humored, patient, determined student, not given to boisterous pranks, nor to bad habits. He never tasted liquor, and, strange as it may seem in view of his after smoking propensity, he neither smoked nor chewed when at the Academy. He respected all discipline and was never guilty of wanton violation of rules and regulations.
He had as classmates Franklin, Ingalls, Reynolds, Augur, Ripley and Gardner, and as cotemporaries Sherman, Thomas, Meade, Humphreys, Smith and others who afterward became illustrious in war. Out of his class of over one hundred, only thirty-nine succeeded in graduating. Among these thirty-nine Grant graduated with the rank of number twenty-one. His diploma and commission both bore the entering name of Ulysses S. Grant.
Prof. Coppee, of Lehigh University, who was at West Point with Grant thus speaks of the cadet: "I remember him as a plain, common sense, straightforward youth, quiet, rather of the old head on the young shoulders order, shunning notoriety ; quite contented while others were grumbling; taking to his military duties in a very business-like manner; not a prominent man in the corps, but respected by all and very popular with his friends. The sobriquet of ‘Uncle Sam’ was given him there, where every good fellow has a nick-name