Grant might have liked to retire, but his immense popularity practically assured he would be a candidate for the presidency in 1868. He ran for, and easily won, the office, but he soon found that running the nation from the Executive Mansion was quite different from managing the armies in the field. Always good natured and generous to a fault, Grant promoted friends and relatives to positions they did not deserve, and he reaped the consequence: his two-term presidency was rife with corruption and intrigue. After leaving Washington, D.C., in 1869, Grant and his wife made a round-the-world journey by steamship and railroad and returned to live in New York City. Some ill-timed financial adventures left them nearly penniless, and at about the time that Grant learned he had cancer of the throat, his family fortunes were at an extremely low ebb.
President Grant in a c. 1872 photo with his son, Jesse, and wife, Julia.