Skip to content

Grant And Lee Comparison Essay

Grant And Lee: A Study In Contrasts – Comparison/Contrast Essay

Both Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee were men of integrity, determination, passion and great skill. This is where their similarities end as Lee’s empowerment ideology differed from that of Grant’s aristocratic beliefs. Bruce Catton wrote about the two men in the essay, “Grant and Lee: A Study in Contrasts”. Catton, a Pulitzer Prize winning author and Civil War Historian, provides a brief character analysis of both men in this essay. The beliefs that Grant embraced as a frontiersman was more admirable than those aristocratic beliefs of Lee, and more men and women of today should understand and follow Grant’s principles.
Social inequality was one of the fundamental differences between the two men. Lee was an aristocrat who believed in traditional chivalry. This belief had become historically antiquated because America became the land of change. In America, the aristocratic society was slowly being replaced by an industrious and forward thinking society. (Catton 429) He also believed in the establishment and the maintenance of a clear cut social order between each class of individual. Catton wrote, “In such a land Lee stood for the feeling that it was somehow of advantage to human society to have a pronounced inequality in the social structure” (429). In contrast, Grant believed that everyone had the opportunity to succeed in society and that everyone had the same opportunities. Catton wrote, “No man was born to anything, except perhaps to a chance to show how far he could rise. Life was a competition” (430).
The societal differences between the two men gave insight into how each perceived the future of the States. Lee believed that landowners played a key role in determining the success of the country. He believed that this social class of privileged aristocrats is where leaders should be chosen. He felt that principles, beliefs and values would give the nation its strength. Much of the south would embrace his beliefs in which Catton wrote, “In the end, it almost seemed as if the Confederacy fought for Lee; as if he himself was the Confederacy . . . the best thing that the way of life for which the Confederacy stood could ever have to offer” (430). On the other hand, Grant believed that everyone who embraced the nation as a community would only succeed if they did so as a whole....

Loading: Checking Spelling

0%

Read more

Comparison/Contrast Essay

1094 words - 4 pages Have you ever awakened to see the frosty chill of a Hunter, New York morning? Where you can look out of the frosted window and see the fresh blanket of soft snow gleaming in the morning light? Well, I have and it feels like paradise. The skiing is brilliant in the wintertime, the snow is natural and the scenery is a bright white sight. New York may not have...

Comparison/Contrast Essay

1481 words - 6 pages Animal Patients, Human Patients: What's the Difference? When a dog breaks its leg or a child breaks his or her arm we rely on the medical profession for assistance. Many believe veterinarians have it easier than general physicians based on job requirements and schooling. In reality, they share many of the same characteristics and responsibilities, despite their differences. Similarities such as educational requirements to communication skills,...

This essay compares and contrasts the different battles in Beowulf.

759 words - 3 pages Compare and Contrast the Battles in BeowulfWhat characteristics make the battles in Beowulf similar? What makes them different? The key component deals with whether or not fate remains with Beowulf during the battle. Three different battles occur in Beowulf and these different battles contain many of the same characteristics but with a few differences. The first battle involved Beowulf and the monster Grendel. The second battle involved...

Comparison and Contrast Essay on Ibsen's "A Doll's House" Title: Two Old School Friends

881 words - 4 pages Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll's House" shows how two women who went to school together many years previous have led totally different lives. Nora is married, has three children and everything she wants or needs. Her husband Torvald treats her like a doll, indulging her every whim and calling her pet names, such as "singing lark", "little...

Classical and Operant Conditioning: A Contrast. Clearly explains both forms of conditioning and contrasts the two.

1302 words - 5 pages Though classical conditioning and operant conditioning are both techniques involving learning and the acquisition of behaviors, they have contrasting--but sometimes complementary-- ways of training. However, with pioneers in each conditioning practice believing in the general principle, "Psychology should be based on experimental investigation of behaviors," the two fields often intersect.Classical conditioning was brought to the...

Reverend Ambrose and Grant Wiggins in A Lesson Before Dying

1121 words - 4 pages Suffering through the horrors of racism, black Americans appear to have no chance of progression in society.  Generation after generation of being uneducated and treated like animals has left the black community in shambles, and thinking they are not as good as the whites.  In the 1940's it was difficult to find a black man who could read and write. The black man's illiteracy caused them to believe that they were less civilized than the whites. ...

Comparison and Contrast in The Great Gatsby

1803 words - 7 pages Comparison and Contrast in The Great Gatsby       The success of Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is in part due to his successful characterization of the main characters through the comparison and contrast of Daisy Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson, Tom Buchanan and George B. Wilson, and Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby. The contrast is achieved through two principle means: contrasting opposite qualities held by the characters and...

COMPARISON AND CONTRASTS OF BUDDHISM TO CHRISTIANI

737 words - 3 pages For many centuries, Buddhism has been the popular religion in the eastern parts of the world. Because of the increase of the Asian population, in the United States, Buddhism has had a large impact on this country also. Buddhism is the largest religion in Hawaii, and many Americans have accepted this religion. To research both Buddhism and Christianity, for the purpose of doing...

Comparison/Contrast Essay : The Odyssey and Crow and Weasel

644 words - 3 pages Odysseus, king of Ithaca and the greatest strategist of the Trojan War, is on a journey filled with obstacles as he is trying to return home. Crow and Weasel are two Native American boys who are on a journey to travel further north than anyone in their tribe ever has. Although Odysseus...

A Comparison and Contrast of Popular Music and Lyrics in the 1950's and Today

804 words - 3 pages Music has been known to express ideas in human emotion; music can be a release from the hectic world. But people in the 50's did not sit back and relax to the sound of "Feel It N*gga" by 50 cent. In fact, the type of songs that 50 cent sings is far from what people in the 50's used to listen to. Even though some elements of music haven't changed such as pace and sentimentality in love songs, many styles of music have evolved into more...

(Contrast and Comparison Essay)TO BYPASS OR NOT TO BYPASS

1204 words - 5 pages In Dr. Lawson's Class on Tuesday, February 1, 2005, part of our time was spent discussing "Discrimination" and if we had ever experienced any in our lives. On one hand, I wanted to talk about my experiences and on the other hand, wanted to disappear into a corner at just the mere thought. I chose the latter.What comes to mind when you hear the word "Discrimination"? Some people might think about the American Indians or people of Jewish...

Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee are two of the most effective military leaders in American history. These men have become symbolic of the two nations at conflict during the Civil War. Both had very different backgrounds and personalities that caused them to differ in their military leadership and accomplishments. Even though General Lee would surrender his army to General Grant, Lee throughout the course of the war proved himself to be a better military leader. The childhood of Robert Edward Lee played a pivotal role in the way he would see the world as a man. Lee was born into an aristocratic family of Virginia with a deeply rooted American history. Richard Henry and Francis Lightfoot Lee, Robert E. Lee’s uncles, helped draft resolutions that would lead to the Declaration of Independence, both would sign it1. Lee’s father, Henry “Lighthorse Harry” Lee III was a revolutionary war hero and one of George Washington’s most dependable fellow countrymen.

In 1771, Washington, also from Virginia, wrote: “ I know of no country that can produce a family all distinguished and clever men, as our Lees.”2 Lee’s mother and father were strong influences in his life for very different reasons. Lee’s father would define everything Lee did not want to be. Lighthorse Harry lacked self-control and failed to take care of the family. Ruined by failed financial ventures, Lee’s father would be sent to debtor’s prison. His mother, Anne Hill Carter Lee would raise young Robert to love God, to serve God and to serve his country. Lee’s rearing helped him to develop the highest standards of honor, self-denial, self-control and duty that would earn respect from both friends and enemies.3 Ulysses S. Grant came from a more humble upbringing. Like Lee, Grant traces his ancestry deep into American history in his memoirs. Grant’s ancestors settled in Massachusetts in 1630.4 Grant’s father, Jesse R. Grant came from a broken family and was fostered by the parents of John Brown.

5 The same John Brown that would attempt to start a slave rebellion by attacking the United States armory at Harper’s Ferry in 1859. Men under the leadership of then Colonel Robert E. Lee ended that raid.6 Grant, was not born into the land owning aristocracy like Lee, his family was frontier men. Grant “…had come up the hard way…No man was born to anything, except perhaps to a chance to show how far he could rise. Life was competition (Catton, para 5).”7 Grant’s competitive upbringing would give him the motivation to push forward and the demand results needed to defeat Lee. Robert E Lee would carry the lessons he learned as a child with him to the Military Academy at West Point. While attending West Point, Lee was very studious and did not join 8other cadets for evenings at the local taverns. General Lee graduated second in his class at West Point and received no demerits for misconduct. This record has never been matched and will not likely ever be achieved again. By graduating with honors, Lee was assigned to the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

The time Lee spent with the Army Corps of Engineers gave him valuable knowledge of different types of terrain and fortification constructions that would serve him well in the Civil War.9 The childhood of Ulysses S. Grant would also affect him at West Point. Grant was not interested in a military career; he was more interested in agriculture.10 It was Grant’s father who requested his appointment to West Point.11 Grant stated in his memoirs, “A military life had no charms for me, and I had not the faintest idea of staying in the army even if I should be graduated, which I did not expect (Grant p19).”12 Grant spent most of his time at West Point reading novels and avoiding “…books related to the course of studies (Grant pg 20).”13 Unlike Lee, Grant would not excel at West Point. Grant graduated 21 out of 39 in his class, just below average.14 The Mexican American War would be both Lee and Grant’s first battle. Lee and Grant would both serve under General Winfield Scott, a man whom they both admired, during his campaign to Mexico City. General Scott saw greatness in Lee and stated his “…success in Mexico was largely due to the skill, valor, and undaunted energy of Robert E. Lee.”15 Scott was also heard commenting a few years later that; “Lee is the greatest military genius in America.”

16 Grant, only a first lieutenant, did not get an opportunity to show much leadership. Grant did however serve with valor. At the Battle of Monterey, Grant would gain some respect among his peers by successfully carrying much needed ammunition to his regiment while under fire.17 During the Civil War, Lee and Grant would implement skills learned while under the command of General Winfield Scott. In the spring of 1861 as the nation leaned toward Civil War, both Grant and Lee would be forced to make very difficult decisions. Grant would only have to decide between being a patriot or a traitor. In a letter to Grant’s father he wrote: “There are but two parties now, Traitors & Patriots and I want hereafter to be ranked with the latter. . . (Grant p 957)”18 Lee was torn between a successful career in the United States Army, his devotion to the Union, an appointment as commander of the Union forces and the love he had for his family and homeland. In a letter to his sister, Lee wrote: “ With all my devotion to the Union…I have not been able to make up my mind to raise my hand against my relatives, my children, my home.

19 The decisions these two men made would send them on a collision course in one of the most costly wars the country has every waged. Throughout the Civil War, Robert E Lee would prove himself to be unmatched in leadership. When Lee took control of the Army of Northern Virginia in June of 1862, the Union army “…was thundering at the city gates…(Lee p150)”20 of the Confederate capital of Richmond. In three months, Lee would achieve what his predecessor General Joseph E. Johnston could not. Lee defeated the invading Union army and turned the war in favor of the South. It would take President Lincoln almost one year to find any competition for General Lee. That competition would be General Grant and the vast resources the North offered him. The vast resources and the advanced railroad system of the North would give Grant the advantage he needed over Lee.

In a letter to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Lee expressed his concern that “…Every train brings recruits, and it is stated that every available regiment at the North is added to it…(Lee p108)”21 The Army of Northern Virginia’s lack of provisions were “…so great…I cannot see how we can operate with our present supplies (Lee, p 108).22 Before Lee ever met Grant on the battlefield he was trying to prepare for multiple retreats that would allow him to resupply his army. Lee pleaded with Jefferson Davis that “Every exertion should be made to supply the depots at Richmond and at other points (Lee, p 108).” 23 Grant carelessly used his resources to attack Lee and “…after thirty days of marching…fighting and a with a loss of more than sixty thousand men, General Grant…”24 arrived at Petersburg, “…which he could have done…without the loss of a single man.”

25 The sixty thousand men that were expendable to Grant was more than Lee had in his entire Army of Northern Virginia. Lee eventually was forced to surrender his army of “…less than eight thousand men…to Grant’s army of 150,000…”26 Prior to the surrender Union officers had “…always estimated your [Lee] force at about seventy thousand men.”27 The leadership displayed by Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee throughout their military careers is directly related to their childhood and education at West Point. Grant’s childhood made him competitive but his lack of interest in the curriculums at West Point would set him back militarily.

If Grant did not have the expendable resources that were available to his Union Army, he would have failed against Lee’s ability to fight with such limited resources. Lee’s self struggle to lead by example combined with his devotion to duty and the men in his army resulted in many victories over impossible odds. Lee did not surrender to Grant’s leadership traits; Lee “…was compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources (Lee p 138)”28 1 James A. Henretta, David Brody and Lynn Dumenil, America: A Concise History, 3rd Edition, 3rd ed. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005), 157-58.

Bibliography

Henretta, James A., David Brody, and Lynn Dumenil. America: A Concise History, 3rd Edition. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2005.

Lee, Fitzhugh. General Lee. BiblioLife, 2009.

Grant, Ulysses S. Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. CreateSpace, 2009.

Lee, Robert. Recollections and Letters. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble, 2004.

Bruce Catton Grant and Lee: A Study in Contrasts, available from http://users.ipfw.edu/ruflethe/grantandlee.html ; Internet; accessed 16 August 2010.

Allen, Walter. ULYSSES S. GRANT. Houghton Mifflin,1901.

Long, Armistead Lindsay. Memoirs of Robert E. Lee: His military and personal history [embracing a large amount of information hitherto unpublished]. University of Michigan Library, 1886.

Grant, Ulysses S. Ulysses S. Grant : Memoirs and Selected Letters : Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant / Selected Letters, 1839-1865 (Library of America). First Edition ed. New York, N.Y.: Library of America, 1990.