Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant
The presidency of Ulysses S. Grant began on March 4, 1869, when Ulysses S. Grant was inaugurated as the 18th President of the United States, ended on March 4, 1877. Grant took office in the aftermath of the Civil War, he presided over much of the Reconstruction Era. A Republican, Grant became president after defeating Democrat Horatio Seymour in the 1868 presidential election, he was reelected in 1872 in a landslide victory, overcoming a split in the Republican Party that resulted in the formation of the Liberal Republicans, which nominated Horace Greeley to oppose him. He was succeeded as president by Republican Rutherford B. Hayes after the contested 1876 presidential election. Reconstruction took precedence during Grant's two terms of office; the Ku Klux Klan caused widespread violence throughout the South against African Americans. By 1870, all former Confederate states had been readmitted into the United States and were represented in Congress, however Democrats, or former slave owners, violently refused to accept that freedmen were citizens, who were granted suffrage by the Fifteenth Amendment.
By 1871 Klan activity was becoming out of control, while Grant and Congress created the Department of Justice and had passed three Force Acts. Grant his Attorney General Amos T. Akerman began a crackdown on Klan in the South, starting in South Carolina, making arrests and convictions, causing the Klan to demobilize and ensuring a fair election for 1872. Rather than develop a cadre of trustworthy political advisers, Grant was self-reliant in choosing his cabinet, he relied on former Army associates, who had a thin understanding of politics and a weak sense of civilian ethics. Numerous scandals plagued his administration, including allegations of bribery and cronyism. In 1872, Grant signed into law an Act of Congress that established Yellowstone National Park, the nation's first National Park. At the beginning of Grant's second term, the nation was prosperous, the national debt, government spending and the federal workforce were reduced, there was an increase in tax revenues. Congress established a de facto deflationary gold standard that reduced the number of greenbacks in the national economy.
However, the Panic of 1873 devastated the national economy. A severe nationwide economic depression turned public opinion against Grant; as a result, Democrats regained control of the House in the 1874 elections. Corruption scandals escalated, though reformers appointed by Grant were able to clean up some federal departments. Most notably, Secretary of the Treasury Benjamin Bristow prosecuted the Whiskey Ring, leading to the indictment of Grant's personal secretary, Orville E. Babcock. Secretary of War William W. Belknap resigned in disgrace in February 1876 after he was impeached by the House for taking kickbacks. Grant continued to support Reconstruction, he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which banned discrimination in public accommodations. By the time Grant left office in 1877, white Southern Democrats called Redeemers by their supporters, had regained political control of state governments; the United States was at peace with the world throughout Grant's eight years in office, but his handling of foreign policy was uneven.
Tensions with Native American tribes in the West continued. Under the talented Secretary of State Hamilton Fish, the Treaty of Washington restored relations with Britain and resolved the contentious Alabama Claims, while the Virginius Affair with Spain was settled peacefully. Grant attempted to annex the Caribbean island of Santo Domingo, but the annexation was blocked by the Senate. With the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, the West was wide open to expansionism that sometimes was challenged by hostile Native Americans. Grant pursued a Peace policy with Native Americans, but persistent western expansion by settlers made conflict difficult to avoid. Grant presided over the Great Sioux War of 1876 and other clashes with the Native Americans. Grant's presidency was traditionally denounced by historians due to corruption charges among subordinates, despite efforts of reform in his administration, his presidential reputation has risen over the past few decades among historians who have noted that Grant advanced a modern presidency, that included a reformed Indian policy, African American civil rights, the first Civil Service Commission, protected women under federal law.
Grant's rise in political popularity among Republicans was based on his Union military service during the Civil War, his successful generalship that defeated Robert E. Lee, his break from President Andrew Johnson over the Tenure of Office Act, when Grant returned the War Office back to Edwin Stanton, his presidential nomination was inevitable. The Republican Party delegates unanimously nominated Ulysses S. Grant the Republican Party presidential candidate at its May convention held in Chicago. House Speaker Schuyler Colfax, was chosen its vice presidential candidate; the 1868 Republican Party platform advocated enfranchisement of African Americans in the South but kept the issue open in the North. It opposed using greenbacks, only gold, to redeem U. S. bonds, encouraged immigration, endorsed full rights for naturalized citizens, favored radical reconstruction as distinct from the more lenient policy espoused by President Andrew Johnson. In Grant's acceptance letter he said: "Let us have peace."
These words became the Republican popular mantra. The Democrat Party, divided by the Civil War and was determined to take back the presidency; the Democratic Party focused on economic policy. The Democratic Party delegates at its July convention, held in New York, nominated Horatio Seymour the Democratic Party presidenti
1868 Republican National Convention
The 1868 Republican National Convention of the Republican Party of the United States was held in Crosby's Opera House, Cook County, Illinois, on May 20 to May 21, 1868. Commanding General of the U. S. Army Ulysses S. Grant was the unanimous choice of the Republicans for President. At the convention he was chosen by acclamation on the first ballot. For Vice-President the delegates chose the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives Schuyler Colfax, Grant's choice. In Grant's acceptance telegram he said "Let us have peace", which captured the imagination of the American people. Benjamin F. Wade John A. J. Creswell Andrew G. Curtin Reuben E. Fenton Hannibal Hamlin James Harlan William D. Kelley Samuel C. Pomeroy James Speed Henry Wilson United States presidential election, 1868 1868 Democratic National Convention History of the United States Republican Party List of Republican National Conventions U. S. presidential nomination convention Presidential election, 1868.: Proceedings of the National union Republican convention, held at Chicago, May 20 and 21, 1868./ reported by Ely, Burnham & Bartlett, official reporters of the convention.
Republican Party Platform of 1868 at The American Presidency Project
The Reconstruction era was the period from 1863 to 1877 in American history. It was a significant chapter in the history of American civil rights; the term has two applications: the first applies to the complete history of the entire country from 1865 to 1877 following the American Civil War. Reconstruction ended the remnants of Confederate secession and ended slavery, making the newly-free slaves citizens with civil rights ostensibly guaranteed by three new Constitutional amendments. Three visions of Civil War memory appeared during Reconstruction: the reconciliationist vision, rooted in coping with the death and devastation the war had brought. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson both took moderate positions designed to bring the South back into the Union as as possible, while Radical Republicans in Congress sought stronger measures to upgrade the rights of African Americans, including the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, while curtailing the rights of former Confederates, such as through the provisions of the Wade–Davis Bill.
Johnson, a former Tennessee Senator, former slave owner, the most prominent Southerner to oppose the Confederacy, followed a lenient policy toward ex-Confederates. Lincoln's last speeches show that he was leaning toward supporting the enfranchisement of all freedmen, whereas Johnson was opposed to this. Johnson's interpretations of Lincoln's policies prevailed until the Congressional elections of 1866; those elections followed outbreaks of violence against blacks in the former rebel states, including the Memphis riots of 1866 and the New Orleans riot that same year. The subsequent 1866 election gave Republicans a majority in Congress, enabling them to pass the 14th Amendment, take control of Reconstruction policy, remove former Confederates from power, enfranchise the freedmen. A Republican coalition came to power in nearly all the southern states and set out to transform the society by setting up a free labor economy, using the U. S. Army and the Freedmen's Bureau; the Bureau protected the legal rights of freedmen, negotiated labor contracts, set up schools and churches for them.
Thousands of Northerners came south as missionaries, teachers and politicians. Hostile whites began referring to these politicians as "carpetbaggers". In early 1866, Congress passed the Freedmen's Bureau and Civil Rights Bills and sent them to Johnson for his signature; the first bill extended the life of the bureau established as a temporary organization charged with assisting refugees and freed slaves, while the second defined all persons born in the United States as national citizens with equality before the law. After Johnson vetoed the bills, Congress overrode his vetos, making the Civil Rights Act the first major bill in the history of the United States to become law through an override of a presidential veto; the Radicals in the House of Representatives, frustrated by Johnson's opposition to Congressional Reconstruction, filed impeachment charges. The action failed by one vote in the Senate; the new national Reconstruction laws – in particular laws requiring suffrage for freedmen – incensed white supremacists in the South, giving rise to the Ku Klux Klan.
During 1867-69 the Klan murdered Republicans and outspoken freedmen in the South, including Arkansas Congressman James M. Hinds. Elected in 1868, Republican President Ulysses S. Grant supported Congressional Reconstruction and enforced the protection of African Americans in the South through the use of the Enforcement Acts passed by Congress. Grant used the Enforcement Acts to combat the Ku Klux Klan, wiped out, although a new incarnation of the Klan would again come to national prominence in the 1920s. President Grant was unable to resolve the escalating tensions inside the Republican Party between the Northerners on the one hand, those Republicans hailing from the South on the other. Meanwhile, "redeemers", self-styled conservatives in close cooperation with a faction of the Democratic Party opposed Reconstruction, they alleged widespread corruption by the "carpetbaggers", excessive state spending, ruinous taxes. Meanwhile, public support for Reconstruction policies, requiring continued supervision of the South, faded in the North after the Democrats, who opposed Reconstruction, regained control of the House of Representatives in 1874.
In 1877, as part of a Congressional bargain to elect Republican Rutherford B. Hayes as president following the disputed 1876 presidential election, U. S. Army troops were withdrawn from the three states; this marked the end of Reconstruction. Historian Eric Foner argues: What remains certain is that Reconstruction failed, that for blacks its failure was a disaster whose magnitude cannot be obscured by the genuine accomplishments that did endure. In different states Reconstruction ended at different times. In recent decades most historians follow Foner in dating the Reconstruction of the South as starting in 1863 rather than 1865; the usual ending for Reconstruction has always been 1877. Reconstruction policies were debated in the North when the
Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government and each state from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude". It was ratified on February 1870, as the third and last of the Reconstruction Amendments. In the final years of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era that followed, Congress debated the rights of the millions of former black slaves. By 1869, amendments had been passed to abolish slavery and provide citizenship and equal protection under the laws, but the election of Ulysses S. Grant to the presidency in 1868 convinced a majority of Republicans that protecting the franchise of black male voters was important for the party's future. On February 26, 1869, after rejecting more sweeping versions of a suffrage amendment, Congress proposed a compromise amendment banning franchise restrictions on the basis of race, color, or previous servitude. After surviving a difficult ratification fight, the amendment was certified as duly ratified and part of the Constitution on March 30, 1870.
United States Supreme Court decisions in the late nineteenth century interpreted the amendment narrowly. From 1890 to 1910, southern states adopted new state constitutions and enacted laws that raised barriers to voter registration; this resulted in most black voters and many poor white ones being disenfranchised by poll taxes and discriminatory literacy tests, among other barriers to voting, from which white male voters were exempted by grandfather clauses. A system of white primaries and violent intimidation by white groups suppressed black participation. In the twentieth century, the Court began to interpret the amendment more broadly, striking down grandfather clauses in Guinn v. United States and dismantling the white primary system in the "Texas primary cases". Along with measures such as the Twenty-fourth Amendment, which forbade poll taxes in federal elections, Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections, which forbade poll taxes in state elections, these decisions increased black participation in the American political system.
To enforce the amendment, Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which provided federal oversight of elections in discriminatory jurisdictions, banned literacy tests and similar discriminatory devices, created legal remedies for people affected by voting discrimination. The amendment created a split within the women's suffrage movement over the amendment not prohibiting denying the women the right to vote on account of sex. Section 1; the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Section 2; the Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. In the final years of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era that followed, Congress debated the rights of black former slaves freed by the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1865 Thirteenth Amendment, the latter of which had formally abolished slavery. Following the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment by Congress, Republicans grew concerned over the increase it would create in the congressional representation of the Democratic-dominated Southern states.
Because the full population of freed slaves would be now counted rather than the three-fifths mandated by the previous Three-Fifths Compromise, the Southern states would increase their power in the population-based House of Representatives. Republicans hoped to offset this advantage by attracting and protecting votes of the newly enfranchised black population. In 1865, Congress passed what would become the Civil Rights Act of 1866, guaranteeing citizenship without regard to race, color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude; the bill guaranteed equal benefits and access to the law, a direct assault on the Black Codes passed by many post-war Southern states. The Black Codes attempted to return ex-slaves to something like their former condition by, among other things, restricting their movement, forcing them to enter into year-long labor contracts, prohibiting them from owning firearms, by preventing them from suing or testifying in court. Although urged by moderates in Congress to sign the bill, President Johnson vetoed it on March 27, 1866.
In his veto message, he objected to the measure because it conferred citizenship on the freedmen at a time when 11 out of 36 states were unrepresented in the Congress, that it discriminated in favor of African Americans and against whites. Three weeks Johnson's veto was overridden and the measure became law; this was the first time in American history that Congress was able to muster the votes necessary to override a presidential veto. Despite this victory some Republicans who had supported the goals of the Civil Rights Act began to doubt that Congress possessed the constitutional power to turn those goals into laws; the experience encouraged both radical and moderate Republicans to seek Constitutional guarantees for black rights, rather than relying on temporary political majorities. On June 18, 1866, Congress adopted the Fourteenth Amendment, which guaranteed citizenship and equal protection under the laws regardless of race, sent it to the states for ratification. After a bitter struggle that included attempted rescissions of ratification by two states, the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted on July 28, 1868.
Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment punished, by reduced representation in the House of Representatives, any state that disenfranchised any male citizens over 21 years of age. By failing to adopt a harsher penalty, this signaled to the states that they still posse
Great Sioux War of 1876
The Great Sioux War of 1876 known as the Black Hills War, was a series of battles and negotiations which occurred in 1876 and 1877 between the Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, the United States. The cause of the war was the desire of the U. S. government to obtain ownership of the Black Hills. Gold had been discovered in the Black Hills, settlers began to encroach onto Native American lands, the Sioux and Cheyenne refused to cede ownership to the U. S. Traditionally, the United States military and historians place the Lakota at the center of the story given their numbers, but some Indians believe the Cheyenne were the primary target of the U. S. campaign. Among the many battles and skirmishes of the war was the Battle of the Little Bighorn known as Custer's Last Stand, the most storied of the many encounters between the U. S. mounted Plains Indians. That Indian victory notwithstanding, the U. S. leveraged national resources to force the Indians to surrender by attacking and destroying their encampments and property.
The Great Sioux War took place under the presidencies of Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes; the Agreement of 1877 annexed Sioux land and permanently established Indian reservations. The Cheyenne had migrated west to the Black Hills and Powder River Country before the Lakota and introduced them to horse culture about 1730. By the late 18th century, the growing Lakota tribe had begun expanding its territory west of the Missouri River, they pushed out the Kiowa and formed alliances with the Cheyenne and Arapaho to gain control of the rich buffalo hunting grounds of the northern Great Plains. The Black Hills, located in present-day western South Dakota, became an important source to the Lakota for lodge poles, plant resources and small game, they are considered sacred to the Lakota culture. By the early 19th century, the Northern Cheyenne became the first to wage tribal-level warfare; because European Americans used many different names for the Cheyenne, the military may not have realized their unity.
The US Army destroyed seven Cheyenne camps before 1876 and three more that year, more than any other tribes suffered in this period. From 1860 on, the Cheyenne were a major force in warfare on the Plains. "No other group on the plains achieved such centralized tribal organization and authority." The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, signed with the US by Lakota and Northern Cheyenne leaders following Red Cloud's War, set aside a portion of the Lakota territory as the Great Sioux Reservation. This comprised the western one-half of South Dakota, including the Black Hills region for their exclusive use, it provided for a large "unceded territory" in Wyoming and Montana, the Powder River Country, as Cheyenne and Lakota hunting grounds. On both the reservation and the unceded territory, white men were forbidden to trespass, except for officials of the U. S. government. The growing number of miners and settlers encroaching in the Dakota Territory, however nullified the protections; the US government could not keep settlers out.
By 1872, territorial officials were considering harvesting the rich timber resources of the Black Hills, to be floated down the Cheyenne River to the Missouri, where new plains settlements needed lumber. The geographic uplift area suggested the potential for mineral resources; when a commission approached the Red Cloud Agency about the possibility of the Lakota's signing away the Black Hills, Colonel John E. Smith noted that this was "the only portion worth anything to them", he concluded that "nothing short of their annihilation will get it from them". In 1874, the government dispatched the Custer Expedition to examine the Black Hills; the Lakota were alarmed at his expedition. Before Custer's column had returned to Fort Abraham Lincoln, news of their discovery of gold was telegraphed nationally; the presence of valuable mineral resources was confirmed the following year by the Newton–Jenney Geological Expedition. Prospectors, motivated by the economic panic of 1873, began to trickle into the Black Hills in violation of the Fort Laramie Treaty.
This trickle turned into a flood as thousands of miners invaded the Hills before the gold rush was over. Organized groups came from states as far away as New York and Virginia; the United States Army struggled to keep miners out of the region. In December 1874, for example, a group of miners led by John Gordon from Sioux City, managed to evade Army patrols and reached the Black Hills, where they spent three months before the Army ejected them; such evictions, increased political pressure on the Grant Administration to secure the Black Hills from the Lakota. In May 1875, Sioux delegations headed by Spotted Tail, Red Cloud, Lone Horn traveled to Washington, D. C. in an eleventh-hour attempt to persuade President Ulysses S. Grant to honor existing treaties and stem the flow of miners into their territories, they met with Grant, Secretary of the Interior Columbus Delano, Commissioner of Indian Affairs Edward Smith. The US leaders said that the Congress wanted to pay the tribes $25,000 for the land and have them relocate to Indian Territory.
The delegates refused to sign a new treaty with these stipulations. Spotted Tail said, "You speak of another country. I was not born there... If it is such a good country, you ought to send the white men now in our country there and let us alone." Although the chiefs were unsuccessful in finding a peaceful solution, they did not join Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull in the warfare that followed. That fall, a US commission was sent to each of the Indian agencies to hold councils with the Lakota
President of the United States
The president of the United States is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces. In contemporary times, the president is looked upon as one of the world's most powerful political figures as the leader of the only remaining global superpower; the role includes responsibility for the world's most expensive military, which has the second largest nuclear arsenal. The president leads the nation with the largest economy by nominal GDP; the president possesses international hard and soft power. Article II of the Constitution establishes the executive branch of the federal government, it vests the executive power of the United States in the president. The power includes the execution and enforcement of federal law, alongside the responsibility of appointing federal executive, diplomatic and judicial officers, concluding treaties with foreign powers with the advice and consent of the Senate.
The president is further empowered to grant federal pardons and reprieves, to convene and adjourn either or both houses of Congress under extraordinary circumstances. The president directs the foreign and domestic policies of the United States, takes an active role in promoting his policy priorities to members of Congress. In addition, as part of the system of checks and balances, Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution gives the president the power to sign or veto federal legislation; the power of the presidency has grown since its formation, as has the power of the federal government as a whole. Through the Electoral College, registered voters indirectly elect the president and vice president to a four-year term; this is the only federal election in the United States, not decided by popular vote. Nine vice presidents became president by virtue of a president's intra-term resignation. Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 sets three qualifications for holding the presidency: natural-born U. S. citizenship.
The Twenty-second Amendment precludes any person from being elected president to a third term. In all, 44 individuals have served 45 presidencies spanning 57 full four-year terms. Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms, so he is counted twice, as both the 22nd and 24th president. Donald Trump of New York is the current president of the United States, he assumed office on January 20, 2017. In July 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, the Thirteen Colonies, acting jointly through the Second Continental Congress, declared themselves to be 13 independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule. Recognizing the necessity of coordinating their efforts against the British, the Continental Congress began the process of drafting a constitution that would bind the states together. There were long debates on a number of issues, including representation and voting, the exact powers to be given the central government. Congress finished work on the Articles of Confederation to establish a perpetual union between the states in November 1777 and sent it to the states for ratification.
Under the Articles, which took effect on March 1, 1781, the Congress of the Confederation was a central political authority without any legislative power. It could make its own resolutions and regulations, but not any laws, could not impose any taxes or enforce local commercial regulations upon its citizens; this institutional design reflected how Americans believed the deposed British system of Crown and Parliament ought to have functioned with respect to the royal dominion: a superintending body for matters that concerned the entire empire. The states were out from under any monarchy and assigned some royal prerogatives to Congress; the members of Congress elected a President of the United States in Congress Assembled to preside over its deliberation as a neutral discussion moderator. Unrelated to and quite dissimilar from the office of President of the United States, it was a ceremonial position without much influence. In 1783, the Treaty of Paris secured independence for each of the former colonies.
With peace at hand, the states each turned toward their own internal affairs. By 1786, Americans found their continental borders besieged and weak and their respective economies in crises as neighboring states agitated trade rivalries with one another, they witnessed their hard currency pouring into foreign markets to pay for imports, their Mediterranean commerce preyed upon by North African pirates, their foreign-financed Revolutionary War debts unpaid and accruing interest. Civil and political unrest loomed. Following the successful resolution of commercial and fishing disputes between Virginia and Maryland at the Mount Vernon Conference in 1785, Virginia called for a trade conference between all the states, set for September 1786 in Annapolis, with an aim toward resolving further-reaching interstate commercial antagonisms; when the convention failed for lack of attendance due to suspicions among most of the other states, Alexander Hamilton led the Annapolis delegates in a call for a convention to offer revisions to the Articles, to be held the next spring in Philadelphia.
Prospects for the next convention appeared bleak until James Madison and Edmund Randolph succeeded in securing George Washington's attendance to Philadelphia as a delegate for Virginia. When the Constitutional Convention convened in May 1787, the 12 state delegations in attendance (Rh
Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park is an American national park in the southern Sierra Nevada, in Fresno and Tulare Counties, California. Established in 1890 as General Grant National Park, the park was expanded and renamed to Kings Canyon National Park on March 4, 1940; the park's namesake, Kings Canyon, is a rugged glacier-carved valley more than a mile deep. Other natural features include multiple 14,000-foot peaks, high mountain meadows, swift-flowing rivers, some of the world's largest stands of giant sequoia trees. Kings Canyon is north of and contiguous with Sequoia National Park, the two are jointly administered by the National Park Service as the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks; the majority of the 461,901-acre park, drained by the Middle and South Forks of the Kings River and many smaller streams, is designated wilderness. Tourist facilities are concentrated in two areas: Grant Grove, home to General Grant and Cedar Grove, located in the heart of Kings Canyon. Overnight hiking is required to access most of the park's backcountry, or high country, which for much of the year is covered in deep snow.
The combined Pacific Crest Trail/John Muir Trail, a backpacking route, traverses the entire length of the park from north to south. General Grant National Park was created to protect a small area of giant sequoias from logging. Although John Muir's visits brought public attention to the huge wilderness area to the east, it took more than fifty years for the rest of Kings Canyon to be designated a national park. Environmental groups, park visitors and many local politicians wanted to see the area preserved. After President Franklin D. Roosevelt expanded the park in 1940, the fight continued until 1965, when the Cedar Grove and Tehipite Valley dam sites were annexed into the park; as visitation rose post–World War II, further debate took place over whether the park should be developed as a tourist resort, or retained as a more natural environment restricted to simpler recreation such as hiking and camping. The preservation lobby prevailed and today, the park has only limited services and lodgings despite its size.
Due to this and the lack of road access to most of the park, Kings Canyon remains the least visited of the major Sierra parks, with just under 700,000 visitors in 2017 compared to 1.3 million visitors at Sequoia and over 4 million at Yosemite. Kings Canyon National Park, located on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada to the east of the San Joaquin Valley, is divided into two distinct sections; the smaller and older western section centers around Grant Grove – home of many of the park's sequoias – and has most of the visitor facilities. The larger eastern section, which accounts for the majority of the park's area, is entirely wilderness, contains the deep canyons of the Middle and South Forks of the Kings River. Cedar Grove, located at the bottom of the Kings Canyon, is the only part of the park's vast eastern portion accessible by road. Although most of the park is forested, much of the eastern section consists of alpine regions above the tree line. Snow free only from late June until late October, the high country is accessible via foot and horse trails.
The Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness encompasses over 768,000 acres in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, or nearly 90 percent of their combined area. In addition to Sequoia National Park on the south, Kings Canyon is surrounded by multiple national forests and wilderness areas; the Sierra National Forest, Sequoia National Forest and Inyo National Forest border it on the northwest and east, respectively. The John Muir Wilderness wraps around much of the northern half of the park, the Monarch Wilderness preserves much of the area between the park's two sections. Kings Canyon is characterized by some of the steepest vertical relief in North America, with numerous peaks over 14,000 feet on the Sierra Crest along the park's eastern border, falling to 4,500 feet in the valley floor of Cedar Grove just ten miles to the west; the Sierran crest forms the eastern boundary of the park, from Mount Goethe in the north, down to Junction Peak, at the boundary with Sequoia National Park. Several passes cross the crest into the park, including Bishop Pass, Taboose Pass, Sawmill Pass, Kearsarge Pass.
All of these passes are above 11,000 feet in elevation. There are several prominent subranges of the Sierra around the park; the Palisades, along the park's eastern boundary, have four peaks over 14,000 feet including the highest point in the park, 14,248 feet NAVD 88 at the summit of North Palisade. The Great Western Divide extends through the south-central part of the park and has many peaks over 13,000 feet, including Mount Brewer; the Monarch Divide, stretching between the lower Middle and South Forks of the Kings, has some of the most inaccessible terrain in the entire park. In the northwest section of the park are other steep and rugged ranges such as the Goddard Divide, LeConte Divide and Black Divide, all of which are dotted with high mountain lakes and separated by deep chasms. Most of the mountains and canyons, as in other parts of the Sierra Nevada, are formed in igneous intrusive rocks such as granite and monzonite, formed at least 100 million years ago due to subduction along the North American–Pacific Plate boundary.
However, the Sierra itself is a young mountain range, no more than 10 million years old. Huge tectonic forces along the western edge of the Great Basin forced the local crustal block to tilt and uplift, crea