The Truth About Ulysses S. Grant's Middle Name

"That will go on your permanent record" is a threat made by many school administrators while admonishing an unruly student. Exactly how often a transgression does, in fact, stick with someone for the entirety of their life is hard to prove. One example of a school records-related mishap involves Civil War general and 18th U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant. It goes to show that sometimes that permanent record really does matter — just not in the way that you might expect.

Ulysses S. Grant enrolled in West Point in 1839, per History. Following that, he served in the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and finally, the Oval Office. No doubt, Grant called upon his military education from West Point on multiple occasions on the battlefield, as well as later on in life in the fog of war that engulfs politics. Military training aside, there's one additional thing Grant picked up at West Point that stayed with him for the remainder of his life.

It's actually Ulysses

Prior to enrolling in West Point, Ulysses S. Grant was called Hiram — his real first name –  by friends and family (per Constitution Center). Grant was recommended to attend West Point by Ohio Congressman Thomas Hamer, who mistakenly wrote "Ulysses S. Grant" in his nomination. The reason why the middle initial was added is lost to time. Despite Grant's best efforts to correct the error, he became known as Ulysses S. Grant from that point forward.

There's evidence that Grant eventually came to terms with the name switch, joking in an 1844 letter to his wife, "​​Find some name beginning with 'S' for me," before admitting, "You know I have an 'S' in my name and don't know what it stands for" (per History). In retrospect, the United States would have never had a president with the fitting initials "U.S" if Congressman Harmer hadn't made that mistake. For that, at least, the American people owe him a debt of gratitude.