Ender and Ulysses S. Grant

Comparing Great Leaders

So, what do general from the civil war and the leader of Earth's war on the buggers have in common? Surprisingly, quite a lot.

Early Years

Andrew Wiggin was born a necessary third in his small family. His brother and sister were both geniuses and he gained traits from both of them. He was born to save the world. Ender was chosen to be part of the IF Battle School after proving he was the greatest possible candidate to defeat the bugger threat. Given the nickname based on his reason for existence, Ender was the greatest mind ever to walk the halls of his school. He graduated the program at age 6 before being assigned to IF Battle School.

Hiram Ulysses Grant was also born into a small family home in Point Pleasant, Ohio. As a young student, he was reserved and timid, and didn't show much aptitude in anything but horseback riding. His talents in school were average at best, and he even received demerits for tardiness and improper dress. After school, he was adamant about not working in his father's tannery, so he signed up for the military. A clerical error led to the misprint of his name, and thus Hiram U. Grant became Ulysses S. Grant. At the military academy at West Point, Grant graduated 21st out of 39 peers, and was rather bored with the school. He planned to leave the military as soon as he could.

Military Experience

Within Battle School, Ender was quickly singled out and isolated in order for him to develop the traits necessary to be the commander of the IF. This led to separation from peers and an extreme form of self-reliance. The isolation also made Ender terribly homesick, and he missed his sister Valentine very much. As Ender progressed rapidly and with much success through his training, some of his fellow trainees began to feel resentment, and his reputation grew to one of success, and detachment. However, Ender was always successful. Even going as far as to train a group of launchies into an elite army, and graduating far earlier than most commanders. After graduation, Ender continued training on Eros, and from there, unknowingly conducted war on the bugger home world and committed xenocide. After discovering that the "game" he'd been playing with the simulations was, in fact, real, Ender felt bitter remorse and guilt for his actions.

In 1844, Ulysses was stationed in Saint Louis, Missouri as a quartermaster during the Mexican American war. While in Missouri, he met his future wife, but was taken for duty before they could marry. During the war, he served under Generals Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott and learned from their tactics. When he was given a chance to lead a company of men into battle, he was credited with great courage while under fire, but afterwards had a profound sense that the war was wrong and was only waged to expand land for slavery. Over the next six years, Grant was continually pulled back into service. He began to develop a reputation as a heavy drinker and had trouble with higher authority. These issues led to him to resign from his post as captain in 1854, and leave the military to farm land he was given by his father-in-law.

Grant wasn't cut out to be a farmer, so when that venture failed, he continued to feed his family with odd jobs. However, when Fort Sumter was attacked, Grant's patriotism was roused and he applied to join the military once again. Upon reinstatement, Grant was given the unruly Illinois 21st volunteer regiment, and had them whipped into fighting shape in time for war.

Grant led a highly successful army on a campaign against the Confederacy, and while maintaining support from President Lincoln, Grant's methods were questioned by other Congressmen. He had a track record for high casualties, and later, his reputation as a heavy drinker was discovered. This only furthered the idea that he was unfit to command, but those close to him during the war stated that the migraines were from stress and that he was really sober and concentrated while commanding.

While Congress was concerned with obtaining land as the purpose of the war, Grant was adamant about destroying the south and its supporters. Within the last remaining weeks of warfare, Grant tirelessly hunted General Lee's army in the forests of Virginia, before finally accepting surrender from Lee at Appomattox Court House.

Post War

After the war, Ender didn't want to return to Earth and be controlled by Peter, so he and Valentine left to establish a human colony on a bugger planet. When they got there, Ender found a larvae for a bugger Queen. Ender wrote a book detailing the history and culture of the buggers from the Queen's memory, and started the religion of Speaker of the Dead. Afterwards, he and Valentine started searching for a new home world for the Queen to repopulate.

After the Civil War ended, Grant was appointed as a full General during the Reconstruction, and eventually elected President of the United States. Though he proved honest, he failed to hire people of good character, and political scandals pock marked his presidency and limited it to two terms before he could serve another.

After leaving the White House, Grant continued the pattern of failing as a successful citizen. He tried to start a financial firm, only to have his partner steal investor's money, and Grant went bankrupt as well as the whole operation. It was about this time that Grant discovered he had throat cancer, and that coupled with his crippling debt left him writing short articles about his life and selling them. He eventually negotiated with his friend Mark Twain to publish his memoirs. They were published and made very popular with the public, but not before his death in July, 1885.

Compare/Contrast

Both Ender and Grant led similar lives as generals, despite the setting of their wars and times they lived in. Grant and Ender came from humble surroundings to become great military leaders. During their time as commanders, both inspired their once untrained and unruly armies and transformed them into efficient units. Their leadership styles were questioned by peers and higher authority alike, but ultimately proved successful. Each fought his war to eliminate a threat, unknowingly or not, and afterwards, found war to be loathsome and a waste of life. Both authored a book as well on their experiences.

While similar as leaders, the two men could be very different in other aspects of life. Ender was a genius, and born to be in the military. He fought a single war against an enemy species while thinking it was a game, and was only 6 when he was taken to Battle School. His war was a united effort by the world against a common threat, and he excelled. Afterwards, he finds the Queen Larvae and begins to look for a home world, regretting his xenocide of the buggers.

Grant was an average student at best, and fought in two wars, one against his own nation. His war was waged up close and personal on the front lines, not from some simulator controlling drones. He fought the South to "win all the fights after", and felt no remorse over his victory. Also, Grant, as an adult, dealt with struggles like alcohol and supporting a family that never plagued Ender, and Grant had to adjust to civilian life after the war, while Ender became a celebrity. It was apparent the two men lead different civilian lives, but both were the top military leaders of their age. Neither of them backed down or gave up in a fight, and I think we can all admire that.

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