Representative Ann Wagner and Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri recently announced the introduction of bicameral legislation that would recognize Ulysses S. Grant’s 200th birthday in 2022 by authorizing and requesting the appointment of General Grant posthumously as General of the Armies of the United States, the United States Army’s highest rank. In substance, this legislation, entitled the Ulysses S. Grant Bicentennial Recognition Act, would confer on Grant the same honor that was given to George Washington when he was posthumously promoted on the occasion of the nation’s bicentennial in 1976. The announcement was made at White Haven, Ulysses and Julia Grant’s former home near Saint Louis that is now administered by the National Park Service as the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site.
The Grant Monument Association has issued the following statement, in conjunction with the Ulysses S. Grant Association:
“General Ulysses S. Grant was the principal author of Union victory during the Civil War. 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 additionally wish to thank the bipartisan cosponsors of this legislation: Representatives Adriano Espaillat, Elise Stefanik, Cheri Bustos, and Michael Guest. We expect the list of cosponsors to grow in the near future and ask concerned citizens to contact their House members and senators to request that they cosponsor this legislation if they have not already done so. 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.”
A brief history of the rank follows:
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.