Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885) is portrayed on the 4-cent stamp of the series. Grant first achieved national attention when President Lincoln appointed him commander of the Union armies during the Civil War. Grant had achieved notable victories against southern forces in the Mississippi campaign, and his military strategies led to the defeat of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and to the Union’s victory over the Confederacy.
A national hero, Grant was elected president in 1868, the youngest man theretofore elected president. He was re-elected in 1872. Though his administration was criticized for mismanagement, Grant held himself above the scandals, was a hard working president, was credited with with a strong foreign policy and a sincere interest in enforcing the rights of freed slaves in the South.
The stamp was issued February 10, 1903, in sheet format printed from plates of four hundred and sold in panes of one hundred stamps with gauge 12 perforations. The 4-cent brown stamp, designed by R. Ostrander Smith, was based on a ferrotype or tintype by Kurtz. The stamp was engraved by George F. C. Smillie (portrait), Robert F. Ponickau (frame), and John U. Rose, Jr., and Lyman F. Ellis (lettering and numerals).
It is notable that Grant had been depicted on the 5-cent denomination of the First Bureau Issue and Abraham Lincoln on the 4-cent stamp of that series. Their denominations were swapped for the Second Bureau Issue, with Lincoln on the 5-cent stamp.
The Grant 4-cent stamp did not pay a specific rate and was used in multiple formats or with other stamps to cover existing rates. Two 4-cent stamps could pay the eight-cent registry fee and three 4-cent stamps could pay the ten-cent special delivery fee plus the two-cent domestic first-class letter rate.
The 4-cent Grant stamp was also issued in imperforate sheets of four hundred stamps. A single print run of 10,000 stamps (twenty-five sheets) was provided to the Detroit post office for special mailings by the Schermack Company, a stamp vending machine manufacturer. Approximately fifty used and unused stamps survive, and, along with four on cover examples, are important twentieth-century rarities.
Like many of the Series 1902 stamps, the 4-cent stamp exists in a vaiety of color shades.