Grant at first seemed to favor the Reconstruction policy of President Andrew Johnson. In Apr., 1867, Johnson appointed him interim Secretary of War, replacing Edwin Stanton. Johnson expected him to hold the office against Stanton and thus bring about a test of the constitutionality of the Tenure of Office Act, but Grant turned the office back to Stanton when the Senate refused to sanction Stanton's removal. It was apparent then that the general had thrown his lot in with the radical Republicans. The inevitable choice of the Republicans for President, Grant was victorious over the Democratic candidate, Horatio Seymour, in 1868.
Characterized chiefly by bitter partisan politics and shameless corruption, his administrations remain notorious. The punitive Reconstruction program was pushed with new vigor, and legislation favorable to commercial and industrial interests was passed (see greenback). The President associated with disreputable politicians and financiers; James Fisk and Jay Gould deceived him when they tried to corner the gold market in 1869 (see Black Friday). In foreign affairs, however, much was accomplished by the able Secretary of State, Hamilton Fish.
The party unanimously renominated Grant in 1872, and he was reelected easily over Horace Greeley, the candidate of the Liberal Republican party and the Democrats. Toward the end of his second term his Secretary of War, William W. Belknap, and his private secretary, Orville E. Babcock, were implicated in graft scandals. Through the loyalty of the deceived Grant, both escaped punishment.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.