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American Experience: Ulysses S. Grant (Part 2) 2002
Description: As a general, he had fought to preserve the Union. As president, he helped to oversee the transformation from union to nation. As a former president, he was the embodiment of the very concept of national union, and of America's entry onto the globe stage. As a dying general, he was the symbol of the nation's best and most traumatic war. The storyline of Ulysses S. Grant's life, from his first days on the Ohio frontier to his last days out-writing death in the Adirondacks, is an endlessly fascinating one. Several public figures have ever held a such a firm grip on the American famous imagination. Grant was a boy whose rise from obscurity made him a character to millions who should see themselves in him. An ordinary boy who faced and met extraordinary challenges, his successes and failures seemed to encapsulate the national character. He was so famous with the American public that, despite his two scandal-ridden terms as president, he was nearly nominated to run for a third term.
Released: N/A Director: Elizabeth Deane Writers: N/A Actors: Harry Bulkeley, Alex Ingram, Derek Nelson, Liev Schreiber Genres: Documentary, History
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American Experience: Ulysses S. Grant (Part 2) Reviews:

First rate saying of the storyline of a President and national character comparatively forgotten in modern America (I know he seemed la minor note in my American history education). The fact is, Grant was more famous than Lincoln in his time, and had a large result on America both during and after the war. Grant was a boy full of fascinating contradictions. After a series of poor failures in civilian life he became a large success as a General, leading the north to win in the Civil Fight after things had looked quite bleak(but only after a couple of reversals of fortune of his own along the way). A fierce, almost heartless warrior, he was also a tender and deeply devoted family man, almost to the mission of obsession. A shy man, not given to speeches, who led with a quiet strength and self-discipline, and yet was also, by most accounts a functioning (ad at times barely functioning) alcoholic. The son of an abolitionist, Grant owned slaves himself, and saw slaves as inferior beings, only to be launch minded enough to slowly come to embrace their emancipation not only as a military tactic, but as a moral stance. He became a warrior for African-American rights as a General and a President. A physically tiny man, humble in many ways, who rose to greatness, only to be knocked down (and rise up) repeatedly after the war. A boy brilliant enough to be a nice leader in war, but naive enough to be taken in by con-men as President.For me, the first part was the more strong of the two, perhaps because it covered fewer years, plus the sheer emotional power of the fight itself; the overwhelming loss of life, and drama of the struggle create it difficult for his soon life in politics to package quite the same punch. But I found all of it highly interesting, and unlike some of the everytime well made American Experience films, I learned a nice deal I didn't know, not only about a seminal American figure, but also about the Civil Fight and Reconstruction as well.


This is the second part of the unbelievable two-part biography of Ulysses Grant that was shown on "The American Experience" on PBS television. These are must-see documentaries--exceptionally well made and fascinating throughout.Part two has to do with the life of Grant following the US Civil War. Although I am a retired history teacher, I gotta admit that I didn't know all that much about the Grant administrations as President--other than knowing about the wide-spread corruption for which it's known for today. However, this present re-framed his administration and pointed out many exceptional qualities of the boy that I really did not know. The most admirable is his help for full citizenship rights for Black-Americans as well as decent treatment of the native tribes. He was responsible for enforcing civil rights and crushing the KKK--a sharp contrast to the prior (Johnson) administration that sought to restore the old racist class system in the South. Also, I did not receive the impression he was a terrible boy at all--and there was a lot to admire about him. He appeared to be a nice family boy and loving husband. But, unfortunately, he was also woefully naive--a boy who didn't quite realize how despicable some of his 'friends' in Washington were. Perhaps he was too great a guy. Because of this, seeing his MANY downturns in his soon life was a bit sad to watch--yet still fascinating and exceptionally made throughout. Well worth seeing and a gotta for any history buff.By the way, this and part one were re-shown in January, 2011.



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