His memorial to Ulysses S. Grant, victorious Union commander of the Civil War, includes the tomb of General Grant and his wife, Julia Dent Grant. A West Point graduate, Grant served in the Mexican War and at various frontier posts, before rapidly rising through the ranks during the Civil War. Grant's tenacity and boldness led to victories in the Battles of Vicksburg and Chattanooga and Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox, scenes depicted by mosaics in the tomb. In 1866 Congress awarded Grant his fourth star making him the first full General of the Armies.
A grateful nation twice elected Grant to serve as President of the United States, from 1869 to 1877. Grant's accomplishments include signing the act establishing the first national park, Yellowstone, on March 1, 1872. After the Presidency, Grant settled in New York City. Ulysses S. Grant died of throat cancer on July 23, 1885 in Mount McGregor, New York, and was laid to rest in New York City on August 8th.
Approximately 90,000 people from around the country and the world donated a total of over $600,000 towards construction of his tomb, the largest public fundraising effort ever at that time. Designed by architect John Duncan, the granite and marble structure was completed in 1897 and remains the largest mausoleum in North America. Over one million people attended the parade and dedication ceremony of Grant's Tomb, on April 27, 1897.