Editor’s Note: This post was written by Patrick Grein.
President Ulysses S. Grant is not the most renowned president in U.S. history, yet his actions during his eight-year tenure still have a lasting impact. President Trump can study Grant’s administration and learn lessons from how Grant handled certain situations. Specifically, Trump can observe how Grant treated recently freed slaves during his first term and apply the same strategy to his own treatment of Muslims. One of Trump’s first executive orders was a travel ban which forbade travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, and also instituted a religious exam which gave priority to Christian refugees entering the country. The president’s defense for instituting this order was to keep out radical terrorists. This is crucial because President Grant also dealt with terrorism in the form of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan’s main purpose in the 1860’s was to inject fear into African-Americans in the South and keep them from voting and exercising their rights. According to Grant’s biography by Josiah Bunting III, he was steadfast in his battle with the Klan. The Civil War had just ended and Grant’s priority was to maintain peace and stability in the Union. President Trump should be imitating this strategy by focusing on the true enemies, like Al Qaeda and ISIS, instead of Muslims also trying to escape terrorism. Trump should be looking for a solution that unifies the country, not partitions it.
President Trump can also consider how President Grant dealt with scandals during his administration. The seeds are planted for a potential Trump scandal in the next four years with his possible foreign business conflicts and the alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election. In this instance, it would be best for Trump to do the opposite of what Grant did in regards to handling corruption in the White House. One such scandal involved a “dummy” corporation receiving government subsidies and shareholders, some of which were members of Congress, incurring serious gains. Grant had no involvement whatsoever in this scheme, but he had a very passive attitude towards the situation. He was not very aggressive with punishment and did not take a firm stance on the justice that should be brought forth. Therefore, because the incident took place under his watch, he was blamed. If Trump was directly involved with Russia during the campaign he should face justice, but if not, he must be firm. He should state clearly to the public he had nothing to do with this and does not condone the activities that took place.
Ulysses S. Grant was not a stellar U.S. president, but that is because he did not have the opportunities F.D.R. or Washington had during their terms. If he did have to face serious problems, he would have conquered them effectively. However, his actions are still important in the development of the U.S. presidency and can be helpful examples for President Trump.
Information in this post about President Grant was taken from “Ulysses S. Grant: The American Presidents Series: The 18th President, 1869-1877” by Josiah Bunting III.