Saturday, August 03, 2013

H.U.G. - The Transformation of U.S. Grant

Everywhere you go in the United States you find high schools, particularly in urban areas, named U.S. Grant High School. Oklahoma City has one. So does Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego and a many other cities. Kids attending one of those schools have no idea how close their school came to being named H.U.G. High School. Ulysses S. Grant, the man after whom these high schools were named, was a Civil War Union General, the 18th President of the United States, and the man credited, along with President Abraham Lincoln, of ultimately preserving the Union. Few people know that Ulysses S. Grant was not his given birth name. In a day when most people were known by their initials or nicknames, H.U.G. was the given name of the man who would become our President.

On April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio, Hannah Simpson Grant gave birth to our future 18th President. Hannah's husband, Jesse Grant, was a self-educated leather producer (tanner) who suggested they draw names from a hat. Having taught himself the classics - and proud of his knowledge - Jesse wrote down several names from ancient Greek history and Latin literature: names like Ulysses, Heracles, Perseus, and many more. Jesse Grant pulled out the name Ulysses from the hat.

Jesse, in a concession to his devout Methodist wife who wanted a more biblical name for their son, agreed to make "Hiram" the first name of their boy. Hiram is the biblical name of the man who built Solomon's Temple. So, Hiram Ulysses Grant became the given name for the man we know today as Ulysses Simpson Grant.

In pre-Civil War America, people often used their initials as their name. If you look at any census prior to 1850 you will see many names written out with initials. For example, Josh Lee would be  J.L.; Fred Tinsley Cherry would be F.T.C.; and Hiram Ulysses Grant would be H.U.G.

That's right. H.U.G.

These initials caused a great deal of consternation for our nation's future President when he was a schoolboy in Ohio. "H.U.G. (and) stop it." "Give me (a) H.U.G." "Come here (and) H.U.G." -- The jokes were constant. The family was poor in those early days, and since Ulysses was the oldest child, everyone was unsure how H.U.G. could afford to continue his education after high school. Finally, with the help of an Ohio Senator, H.U.G. received an appointment to West Point, which was the best free education of the day, albeit with a military commitment. Jesse Grant was delighted his son was going to West Point to become a military man because "he will never amount to anything in business."

As Ulysses packed up his belongings to move to New York, the initials H.U.G. were placed on his suitcase. Knowing the razzing that would come his way from his classmates - young men who would later compose the infamous Class of 43 at West Point - Ulysses wiped the initials H.U.G. off his suitcase and never allowed them to be used again. It would simply be Ulysses Grant.

However, when he arrived at West Point and signed his papers Ulysses Grant, the enrollment officer told him that the Ohio Senator had nominated him as Ulysses S. Grant. "You either have to sign these papers as Ulysses S. Grant or go home." The "S." assigned young Ulysses by the Senator stood for "Simpson" - the maiden name of Ulysses' mother. The Simpsons were friends of the Senator. Ulysses signed his name Ulysses S. Grant, but shortly his classmates were calling him U.S. Grant, and later by a knick name they gave to him - "Uncle Sam" or "Sam" for short, a play on the U.S. in Grant's name.

The name U.S. Grant and the nickname "Sam" both stuck. U.S. Grant graduated 21st out of his 39 member Class of 43, but first in horsemanship. He went on to serve in the military with distinction during the Mexican War, and afterwards, as a quartermaster for the Army in California and Oregon. He was forced to resign from the Army on July 31, 1854 because of his struggle with alcohol, accused by his superior officer of being drunk while handing out paychecks.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, U.S. Grant was almost forty years old, out of the Army, financially broke because of multiple business failures, and considered a failure by most people. George McClellan, a classmate at West Point, refused to meet with Grant to discuss a possible readmission into the Army when the Civil War began. U.S. Grant's life as a soldier was over.

Dejected and depressed, U.S. Grant went back to farming and shop keeping in Illinois. It was only when the governor of Illinois asked Grant to get into military shape a ragtag group of state volunteers - many of whom were drunkards and former prison inmates - that U.S. Grant got back into the War. He advanced through the state militia ranks, becoming a state appointed General. After many initial, aggressive victories against the south, he came to the attention of President Lincoln. U.S. Grant would eventually become the General-in-Chief of the United States Army - promoted to the position by Lincoln - and the man Lincoln credited with singlehandedly bringing victory to the Union.

 U.S. Grant would later serve two terms as President of the United States  (1869-1877). If you were to compare all the Presidents when they were thirty-nine years of age, U.S. Grant would be the one most people would say had no chance of becoming President.

The fact that he did become President was a testament to timing, fortitude in the face of affliction (war and rejection), and of course, Providence. Two things strike me about the story of U.S. Grant:

(1). It is the man who makes the name, not the name that makes the man, and
(2). It is not nearly as important that a man start well as it is that he finishes well.


Rex Ray said...

I like your statement: “It is not nearly as important that a man start well as it is that he finishes well.”

I think of the movie, “Lonesome Dove” where men had to hang their friend for breaking the law. The outlaw was on a horse with a rope around his neck, but no one would spook the horse. The outlaw spurred his horse and someone said, “He didn’t live right but died good.”

I also think of the brother of Jesus that did not give up his ‘day job’ of praying for the sins of Israel in the Holy place of the Temple. Did he not know Calvary did away with his job? He rubbed elbows every day with those who killed his brother, but they didn’t know James was a Christian until the day they killed him for testifying for Jesus.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Rex, I didn't know that about James. He was serving underground in the temple at the same time he was the leader of the early church? Where does one find that kind of info? Thanks.

Also, Wade, thanks a lot for this background piece on Grant. I wonder, though, if maybe the name (H.U.G.) did contribute in some way to forming the character of Grant (good and bad)? (i.e., "Boy Name Sue"). Guess we'll never know about that but I like your two concluding assessments.

Rex Ray said...

Read “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” that John Foxe wrote in the 1500’s and prepared by W. Grinton Berry. Someone else wrote a later revision that makes James look like a Baptist preacher.

Off Topic

Last week there was a Mexican soccer game being played next to a church I visited. A Korean church was located across the street where many years ago, ‘The Master’s Builders’ of First Baptists worked a year to finish their church when the contractor ran off with all their money.

The pastor announced the paper work had been completed to sell to a ‘foreign’ group and rent it back while the ‘foreigners’ were not using it. That meant the time of their services would change. The church would relocate when they had enough money to build another building.

The church on paper was ‘elder led’, but I believe the bottom line was indicated when the pastor said, “If anyone has a concern about this, COME SEE ME.”

I learned the reason for changing locations was to be in a neighborhood of ‘White people’. HUH? Wonder if the pastor will have the same request in heaven?

Rex Ray said...

Quote from the book, page 9-11:

“Of James, the brother of the Lord…took in hand to govern the Church with the apostles…to be a just and perfect man. He drank no wine nor any strong drink, neither did he eat any animal food; the razor never came upon his head. To him only was it lawful to enter into the holy place…falling upon his knees, ask remission for the people…called The Just and the safeguard of the people.

…Scribes and Pharisees, saying…We beseech thee restrain the people, for they believe in Jesus, as though he were Christ…persuade the people that they be not deceived about Jesus, for all the people and we ourselves are ready to obey thee…

set James upon the battlements of the temple…and said, “Thou just man, whom we all ought to obey, this people is going astray after Jesus which is crucified.” And he answered with a loud voice, “Why do you ask me of Jesus the Son of Man? He sitteth on the right hand of the Most High, and shall come in the clouds of heaven.”…many were persuaded and glorified God.

…Scribes and Pharisees…throw down the just man. Yet he was not killed by the fall…while they were smiting him with stones…a fuller, took an instrument…smote the just man on his head…they buried him in the same place. He was a true witness for Christ.”

RRR, I believe the popularity of James helps explain why the people accepted James’s judgment in Acts 15 were he switch the subject of how Gentiles were saved to how they could be accepted by the Christian Jews:
1.“abstain from eating food offered to idols, 2.from sexual immorality, 3.from eating the meat of strangled animals, and 4.from consuming blood.” (Acts 15:20)

“So the apostles and elders met together to resolve this issue.” (verse 6) I believe Peter gave the conclusion of this ‘private’ meeting in verse 11: “We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the underserved grace of the Lord Jesus.”

But Peter’s conclusion was omitted from the letter given to the Gentiles, and I believe the confusion that followed frustrated Paul to no end. See Galatians, Second Corinthians etc.

Did you read what James gave for giving his four rules? “For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.” (Acts 15:21) TRADITION trumps everything! Right? :)

Paul had an answer to James:
“Let God’s curse fall on anyone…who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.” (Galatians 1:8 NLT)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rex for those excerpts giving insight into some of those early church "acts" and for sharing the reference source. That was such an extraordinary time when the witnesses to all that had happened were still living and were the key players in establishing the church. I know the Jewish leaders had to be scared as they saw the power of the "truth" being proclaimed by those actual witnesses, especially family members, of the resurrected Christ. How could they argue with them? I guess their only response could be to try to silence them by killing them. Still happens today, huh?

Off Topic: Great story about the pastor’s intent to “move” the church to an environment that would be more comfortable for him. What some people have unfortunately never experienced is the energized worship and fellowship that comes with diverse groups praising and serving the same Almighty God together. I can't wait to get to heaven but that kind of diversity is even possible in this world. I pray we'll see a trend toward Southern Baptists blowing out all race and cultural barriers so as to increase God's Kingdom on earth and our seeing His will being done here (as in diverse congregational worship) as it is in heaven.

Anonymous said...

Read "Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant."

I guarantee your opinion of the man will rise even higher.

Rex Ray said...

Grant having the determination to finish his book five days before he died spoke volumes of his inner strength that made him President. Mark Twain’s skill in selling his book turned Grant’s wife welfare from rags to riches.

Thank You!

You’re right in saying:
“What some people have unfortunately never experienced is the energized worship and fellowship that comes with diverse groups praising and serving the same Almighty God together.”

I’ve attended many services at Tokyo Baptist Church Japan. I used to play ball with their pastor. Over 20 nationalities had chosen English to be the language they used to worship.

Once they had a visiting preacher—a pudgy guy that I prejudged as giving a nice SS sermon.

He told of preaching to Christians in part of the world that was persecuted. The building was dark with only a few candles and the members wore hoods over their heads.

As they left the building they seemed reluctant to receive a hug he gave each one. He was surprised they were all women. The pastor explained to him that he had given them something they hadn’t received in many years as they were lepers.

The pudgy guy stopped preaching and sang like an angel—“He touched me”.

Rex Ray said...

I'd like to change my comment some.

As they left through a narrow door, none shook his hand and seemed reluctant as he gave each one a hug. He was surprised they were all women.

Their pastor explained they hadn’t been touched in many years as they were lepers.

The guy stopped talking and sang beautiful as an angel—“He touched me”:

Shackled by a heavy burden.
Neath a load of guilt and shame.
Then the hand of Jesus touched me.
Now I am no longer the same.

He touched me, oh He touched me.
And oh the joy that floods my soul.
Something happened and now I know.
He touched me and made me whole.

Since I met the blessed Savior.
Since He cleansed and made me whole.
I will never cease to praise Him.
I'll shout it while eternity rolls.

He touched me, oh He touched me.
And oh the joy that floods my soul.
Something happened and now I know.
He touched me and made me whole.

Rex Ray said...

I like your attitude in seeking truth. Maybe it’s because we have the same initials. :)

Have you ever heard a sermon that covered ALL of Acts 15? It seems preachers want to paint a rosy picture of the early church as having ‘one mind’ in agreement.

Comparing the controversy in Acts 15 to Moderates and Fundamentals makes the later look like kissing cousins.

Acts 15 debates the most important subject in the Bible—how is man saved?

One thought was Jesus plus nothing.
The other thought was Jesus plus something (works).

“…sect of the Pharisees which believed…” (v. 5 KJ)
“…believers from the party of the Pharisees…” (Holman)
“…believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees…” (NLT)

THESE PHARISEES DEMANDED: “The Gentile converts must be circumcised and required to follow the law of Moses.” (v.5 NLT)

Peter, Paul, and Barnabas.

Peter said, “So why are you BURDENING the Gentiles believers…we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” (v. 10-11 NLT)

“…Barnabas and Paul told about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.” (v. 12 NLT)

(Verse 6) “So the apostles and elders met together to resolve this issue.” I’m sure they did not exclude the pastor of the church, James.

(Verse 7 NLT) “At the meeting after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them…” Peter speaks through (verse 11) and you’d think he’s speaking at the private meeting, but (verse 12 KJ) says: “Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul…”

So the Bible excludes what was said at the private meeting. I’m sure the Pharisees gave their argument during the “long discussion”, but Peter beat their ears down and they had noting to say and were silent.

I believe if the meeting had adjourned at that point the early church would have been Baptists and Catholicism would never have existed.

I’d better get off my stump before I get long-winded. :)

Rex Ray said...

My, my—no response from anyone? I must be Don Quixote fighting windmills. :)

But the ‘windmill monster’ is identified by John Maynard Keynes: “The difficulty lies not in the new ideas but in escaping the old ones which ramify for those brought up as most of us have been into every corner of our minds.”

That even applies today. :)

Keynes’ truth is shown by the words of James saying; “For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city of every Sabbath for many generations.”


“…You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are who have believed, and they are ALL ZEALOUS for the law.” (Acts 21:20 Holman)

Was it sad for Jesus to see them practicing the sacrificial lamb?

Some may argue they wouldn’t have done that. Hey! When my son was a missionary in Israel, some Jewish Christians wouldn’t travel with him in a car because the distance was farther than a ‘Sabbath day’s journey’. They believed it was OK for him (Gentile) to go but NOT them.

The situation was the same when James & elders told Paul: “Here is what we want you to do…go with them to the Temple and join them in the purification ceremony…then everyone will know …you yourself observe the Jewish laws.” (Acts 21:23-24 NLT)


“As for the Gentile believers, they should do what we already told them in a letter: …abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality.” (Acts 21:25 NLT)

I believe they were telling Paul that Gentiles were NOT required to do what they asked him, BUT he was not a Gentile.

Referring to Acts 15, WAS GOD CORRECT OR WAS THE HOLY SPIRIT CORRECT? (Peter referenced God’s beliefs and James referenced the Holy Spirit’s decision which was opposite.)

Peter said, “So why are you now challenging God by BURDENING the Gentile believers with a yoke…” (verse 10 NLT)

James said, “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater BURDEN on you than these few requirements:” (Verse 26 NLT)

If I’m not told to get back on topic, I’ll try to tell how Paul goes from the frying pan to the fire—but then it’s already told in Scripture.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray,

Still here!

Maybe Paul and some of the Messianic Jews felt more comfortable by continuing to practice some of their traditional Jewish customs even though they were not depending upon that to save them. I don't think Paul was thinking like "SDA" folks who contend that it's necessary to practice these Laws to be in harmony with God's will.

It's amazing to me that someone as radically Jewish as Paul would be such an advocate for the Gentiles! God sure did use him!

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray;

I suspect the two of us “connect” more due to our being from about the same generation, being married for 4 decades or so to the same woman, growing up with pretty much the same world situation and perhaps similar church experiences than both of us being identified as “rrr”. (Actually, my initials are rbk but somewhere along the line I began to very jokingly refer to myself as “rightrevrick”, hence the “rrr”.)

I like your portrayal of how the early church struggled with the most basic principles of living the life of a follower of Jesus Christ. Isn’t it amazing that we have an account of these detailed struggles that the earliest church had to go through if it was to become “inclusive/multi-cultural/global”?

I was looking in Acts 6 this morning and noticed that it appears that just about all of the first church members were Jewish, either by birth (Hebrew) or by conversion (Hellenist). There was apparently prejudice and discrimination between those considered more authentic and those who were considered outsiders, or maybe “Jew-posers”, even though they all professed to be “Jews”! So I guess we should expect that church position on these most basic doctrines had to be wrestled and argued and prayed through so as to best determine a consensus as to what was “God’s” position.

Here’s the amazing thing to me, Rex Ray; we are still struggling with this most basic principle of what is required for a person to be “born again”. I see evangelists going into schools in countries abroad and telling students who have never even heard about God and for the first time share the Gospel and then ask who wants to follow Jesus. Every hand goes up and they’re led to pray the sinner’s prayer. Of course we know that the Holy Spirit may actually lead some of these little ones to be “born again” but when talking to them subsequently and asking some if they were “Christian” they respond, “No, I’m Buddhist!”

I know it’s impossible to clearly explain what happens to us when we experience that supernatural event of our souls being transformed resulting in our being “born again” as new creatures of Christ. But I’ve always struggled to articulate as best as I can to people what they must do to be saved.

I have told people to “believe” in Jesus Christ but James 2:19 totally shoots that down. Romans 10:9, 10 says to “believe and profess” but Jesus Himself says, “Not everyone who calls on My name will be saved”. Many explain by saying, “Trust and have faith in Jesus is like trusting the airplane to carry you up in the air and bring you safely back to the ground.” That’s a helpful illustration. And Acts 3:19’s reference to it being necessary to “repent” is a great help but a challenge to explain.

Here in Thailand where we’ve been working many people would have no problem in doing all of these things as Thai Buddhists. They think, “No problem! I’ll believe, profess, trust and obey the teachings of Jesus along with all the other gods that I also follow.”
So I have decided to lean real heavy on Luke 9:23, 1 Corinthians 8:5,6 and Matthew 22:37-39.
These days I often tell people to “stop” before saying they are ready to “accept Christ”. I stress the cost that they are about to pay. No, I am NOT suggesting that being saved is based upon our “works” (Ephesians 2:8-10 and Romans 6:23). From the way I interpret things in God’s Word we must make the ultimate sacrifice to become a follower of Jesus. We must surrender our life to His Lordship.

But I’m still in the blender and trying to improve on my understanding of such things anmd improve on my effectiveness in communicating to people what must be done in order to be "saved".

What do you think? What do you tell people who ask what is necessary to be “born again”?

Rex Ray said...

Enjoyed your comment. You’re right about us “connecting” besides our initials. Every ‘filter’ of a person’s mind is as different as their fingerprints. The more our experiences, backgrounds, and situations, are alike, the more “connecting” we will have.

One of the “connections” of joy in heaven is we have all experienced Jesus.

My last week in Mexico was the most physical ‘weakest’ of my life. I couldn’t understand why, but I had some kind of bug. I welded a guard fence on the second story of the Baptists Seminary.

I stayed with the ‘caretaker’ named ‘xxx’ night and day. We slept on the floor, heard dogs barking—chickens crowing through open windows, and walked three blocks to eat and buy water. We had two meals a day and I lost 10 pounds. Once, I asked ‘xxx’ would it look ridicules if he carried me piggy-back as I was having trouble putting one foot in front of the other.

At one time, xxx was one of the most wanted drug dealers in America. When Jesus saved him, he turned himself in and received a 50 year sentence in OK. After 4 ½ years, the chaplain told him there was bad news: “Tomorrow, they’re kicking you out.”

“NO! I have a ministry here!”…but out he went.

‘xxx’ talked so much about Jesus that the different ‘gangs’ of the prison had stopped fighting each other. There was an award of appreciation on his desk from the prison.

RRR, you ask what is necessary to be born again.

Forget “…you will be judged by the law that sets you free. There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.” (James 2:12-13 NLT) IMHO, this is salvation by works.

The wife of ‘xxx’ knew he was an undercover cop but didn’t know he was ‘dirty’. He loved her for himself but was so ruthless she took their young son to a woman’s shelter. She has never come back. It broke his heart and he cried to God.

Jesus saves a person where they are. Everyone thought I was saved because I’d been baptized when I was ten. The next two months was miserable because the Holy Spirit kept telling me I was lost. I asked Jesus to save me and peace came into my heart. I could almost feel the Holy Spirit smile. He never ‘bothered’ me again.

Anonymous said...

It sure would be interesting to read if Mr. "XXX" wrote an autobiography. When I see and hear of such dramatic manifestations of the work of God's Spirit in someone's life it thrills my soul. The destructive power of the spirit of Satan is so sad to see but praise God for His sovereignty over all.

What if you had not made that trip?! You would have missed all of that and not have been able to share it with us!

Rex Ray said...

Thanks for the nice comment. Yes, if “xxx” ever writes of his life, it would be interesting. He was one of 18 children from the same father and mother. Born in Mexico and raised in Texas.

While in the army because of his small size and strength, he set a record of the most shells fired from a tank. My family was in Germany during the ‘Berlin airlift’ and “xxx” ‘shared’ many of the towns with us…of course many years apart since I’m twice as old.

You asked, “What if…” ‘What ifs’ are hard to answer.

For instance, due to some change a lady that is connected to the Baptist Seminary drove me to the airport. I’d met her four years ago when she rode a bicycle from the Seminary (100 miles north of Acapulco) to Oklahoma City for a fund raiser. She stopped on her way to go down my 40 foot high slide.

RRR, do you think angels were involved in this story?

Six years ago, my cousin, Gary, went on a mission trip to Colorado with a large group. They did a lot of mountain climbing. On the way back, he felt they should return to their ‘meeting town’ a shorter way but it was a small mountain road with no guardrails. The others went back the way they’d come.

Going up a steep hill, they saw a shaft of smoke shoot up in the sky and disappear.

At the top of the hill, they look down an 80 foot cliff and saw a van upside down in a river. The driver had gone to sleep and the smoke had been steam.

Gary and his son got their ropes and repelled down the cliff. A family of four was in shock and trying to breath in a foot of airspace. They were trapped by seatbelts.

Gary got them out and to the road. The first car by was a paramedic on vacation, and the next car was a patrol car who called a helicopter that took them to a hospital.

Gary and son were eating pizza when the others drove into town.

Anonymous said...

Rex Ray,

Those are AMAZING stories!

18 CHILDREN from the same Dad AND MOM! Get out! I thought you were going to say they all had the same Dad and maybe two or three Moms. That's astounding.

Angels? I'm not sure about the identity of intervention but we know for sure that God uses His angels to interact with the physical realm. I am positive that God intervene in all of those cases that you mentioned with getting you to the airport and saving that family. Whether it was God's Holy Spirit intervening or angel agents will probably not be known at this time. It was God for sure, though. I pray that all members of the family of 4 acknowledged that.

I've had several here that have bore witness of having encountered "Jesus" in a very real way. The encounter changed the lives of some, but others got excited at first and then began to downplay the experience and continued on their previous life of rejecting God.

Thanks a lot for sharing those stories.