Ulysses S. Grant is remembered as a champion of civil rights

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Whether for his association with the Civil War or civil rights, another United States President from Illinois is currently getting more attention as the nation draws closer to the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States in 2011.

Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States, was elected in 1868 while a resident of Galena, Illinois and visitors to that town may still tour his fully restored home. His two terms in office, spanning the years 1869 – 1877, saw some of the most important civil rights activity the nation would experience for nearly 80 years and have caused some historians to re-evaluate his presidency.

A new book by presidential scholar Alvin S. Felzenberg, The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn"t): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game places Grant in a tie for seventh place among Presidents Zachary Taylor, William McKinley, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. Felzenberg argues that Grant "was the last president before Dwight D. Eisenhower to send federal troops to the South to protect the right of blacks to vote." He also destroyed the earliest version of the Ku Klux Klan, Felzenberg says, and signed the Civil Rights Act of 1875.

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