The Tri-State area is rich in history. From the Native American tribes to European settlers to mining, riverboat, and railroads, this area has played a pivotal role in the continent's development.

Dubuque and Galena particularly stand out. Lead mining and riverboat activity attracted significant populations and prosperity to the area. Galena and Dubuque were more prominent than Chicago by substantial margins in their heyday. The two river ports were poised to be leading centers for commerce.

Perhaps that's part of what attracted many significant people to the area, including Ulysses S. Grant. After his initial military service and hand at farming, a West Point graduate, Grant joined the family business in Galena. Then, however, President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers to defend the Union during the Civil War. Thus, Grant rejoined the ranks and the rest, as they say, is history.

Grant rose quickly by helping to secure vital victories in Tennessee, at Fort Donelson, and the Battle of Shiloh.

Three battles stand out in his later successes, including the Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and the Overland campaigns. Significant to the war, Grant hoped to break the Confederate grip on the Mississippi River at Vicksburg, Mississippi. The hard-won victory at Vicksburg in May of 1863 was a strategic masterpiece. Finally, on May 1, 1863, Grant's army crossed the Mississippi River at the battle of Port Gibson.

Grant led the Union forces to victory and secured General Lee's surrender on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. 

Next to Lincoln's leadership, Grant is widely credited with winning and ending the Civil War. After Lincoln's assassination, Grant was unanimously nominated by the Republican Party and elected as the 18th president in 1868, serving two terms. Grant oversaw Reconstruction and worked to keep the country on course. 

Born on April 27, 1822, today is Grant's Bicentennial Birthday marking 200 years since his birth. 

You can celebrate this genuine American hero by visiting the Galena and U.S. Grant Museum for a deeper look at his fascinating life and contributions to the United States.  

Photo Credit: Keith B. / Townsquare
Photo Credit: Keith B. / Townsquare

Just 18 miles east of Dubuque off Highway 20, the Galena and U.S. Grant Museum offer free admission to celebrate General Grant's Birthday this Saturday and Sunday. There may even be cake available.

Museum Website:

  • 211 S. Bench Street
  • Galena, IL 60136
  • 815-777-9131
  • Open Daily 10:00 am to 4:30 pm

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