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YTMezoan
05-29-2002, 09:44 PM
The 18th president of the U.S., Ulysses Simpson Grant, I've heard, was born with the name Hiram Ulysses Grant, but due to a screw up at West Point, ended up changing his name to match the error, rather than fixing the error. Now this sounds a bit odd, so a few questions:
1) Is this true?
2) What sort of error could have been made that shifted his second name to the first spot, and added in the name Simpson (I always envisioned it that some corporal misread a list of full names, and got the name Simpson from the next entry on the list, but this is just conjecture)?
3) Why did he permanently change his name?

- YT

Big Kahuna Burger
05-29-2002, 10:04 PM
The change is due to two things. For one, growing up he hated that his initials spelled "HUG" so he changed it to Ulysses Hiram Grant. Then, at West Point (where, according to legend, he was the last candidate accepted, only after a man that was already placed in the class was found to have 6 toes on one foot) a clerical error made it Ulysses Simpson Grant.

Of course, presidents often have different names at birth Leslie King, Jr and Billy Blythe became Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton, respectively, when they adopted new names when their mothers remarried. Wilson and Cleveland also made their middle names into first names, but I'm not sure what exactly they were beforehand.

Spavined Gelding
05-29-2002, 11:21 PM
The story that I have heard is that the registrar at The Acadamy assumed that Ulysses' middle name was his mother's maiden name: Simpson (I'm Ulyssis Simpson, who the hell are you?). His classmates called him "Sam," a play on US--Uncle Sam.

Walloon
05-29-2002, 11:43 PM
Then as today, each member of Congress was allowed to nominate candidates for enrollment at West Point. When Grant's congressman nominated Grant, he did not know his middle name, but because he knew Grant's mother, and that her maiden name was Simpson, he guessed that Simpson was Grant's middle name (a common practice in the 19th and early 20th century).

Wendell Wagner
05-30-2002, 04:11 AM
Big Kahuna Burger writes:

> Of course, presidents often have different names at birth Leslie
> King, Jr and Billy Blythe became Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton,
> respectively, when they adopted new names when their
> mothers remarried.

Often? Those are the only two cases. Bill Clinton's father died in an auto accident several months before he was born. When his mother remarried later, she decided to change Clinton's last name to her new husband's last name. Gerald Ford's parents were divorced not long after his birth. When his mother remarried later, she decided to not just change his last name to her new husband's last name, but to rename him after the new husband, so he became Gerald Ford, Jr.

Fish42
05-30-2002, 08:39 AM
Originally posted by Big Kahuna Burger
Wilson and Cleveland also made their middle names into first names, but I'm not sure what exactly they were beforehand.

Thomas Woodrow Wilson and Stephen Grover Cleveland

Acsenray
05-30-2002, 09:01 AM
Don't forget Eisenhower, who switched the order of his two given names.

jkirkman
05-30-2002, 10:31 AM
Woot! A GQ I actually know the answer to!

Like Harry Truman, the “S” stands for nothing.

More than you ever wanted to know about the subject, excerpted from “Echoes”, Published by The Ohio Historical Society in April, 1963, can be found here:.

http://www.lib.siu.edu/projects/usgrant/newsletter/newsletter.html

In short, his name was originally drawn out of a hat(!) and was Hiram Ulysses Grant. His family called him “Ulysses”, and his mates called him or “Lyss” or, showing the sensitivity young ones are famous for, “Useless”.

In 1839 Grant’s dad asked Congressman Thomas L. Hamer to appoint Ulysses to West Point. For reasons unknown, Hamer, rather than simply nominating “Ulysses Grant”, which would have pleased everyone, inserted a spurious middle initial “S” (no “Simpson”, just “S”). Why? No one knows.

Further muddying the waters, Grant himself decided to change his own name to avoid confusion (“My name is Hiram but call me Ulysses”). So Hiram Ulysses Grant, who was appointed to West Point as Ulysses S. Grant, signed in as Ulysses Hiram Grant.

I chuckle trying to imagine the conversation with authority when Grant tried to sort this all out, and I sympathize with whatever officer got a headache listening to this tale and apparently told him that “Ulysses S. Grant” was appointed to West Point, and Grant could either be that person or go home. At any rate…


Quote:

…in the fall he signed a certificate of enlistment as U. S. Grant. Although the army had given him a name he had to accept officially, for the four years of his cadetship he continued to sign his private correspondence U. H. Grant. After he had received a diploma and a commission as Ulysses S. Grant, however, he abandoned his chosen name for the army issue. His classmates had used the initials anyway, and called him "Uncle Sam" at first, but later settled on "Sam".

<<SNIP>>

In a letter to his special friend and patron, Congressman Elihu B. Washburne of Illinois, Grant gave an indication of his annoyance: "In answer to your letter of a few days ago asking what 'S' stands for in my name, I can only state nothing ."

In spite of the fact that Grant never referred to himself or signed his name as Ulysses Simpson Grant, it is still persistently believed that this was his name. Unlike Harry S. Truman, who has no middle name and has defended his right to a simple initial, Grant was too reticent to correct widespread public error. The man who consistently signed himself U. S. Grant patiently bore a name which he did not acknowledge as his own.

End Quote.

Encinitas
05-30-2002, 02:25 PM
If Gerald Ford's name had never been changed then we would have had a President King!