- Jan 24, 2017
As it is Women's History Month I thought I might share some more perhaps little known information on the wife of Ulysses S. Grant.
While Grant's star continues to shine brightly, or not, Julia has her own story to tell. It may be dimmed by Grant's, but her star shone none the less brightly in his eyes.
Many of these insights come from the following link http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=19 with a focus on First Ladies.
"Methodist. Throughout her entire life, Julia Dent Grant was a regular church-goer and made an effort early on to ensure her children received a religious education. She did not, however, ever refrain from some of the “worldly” pleasures such as alcohol consumption, dancing, and gambling either through betting at horse races and card-playing, which the strictest adherence to the faith insisted upon."
Julia's mother, being a strict Methodist, did not indulge in any of these practices. Julia was obviously a young woman with a mind of her own, or not stifled by her parent's religion it seems.
Extra Sensory Perception
"Grant’s regiment was then ordered to Louisiana, in preparation for service in the Mexican War. Distraught at their separation, Miss Dent had an intense dream, which she detailed to several people, that Grant would somehow return within days, wearing civilian clothes and state his intention of staying for a week.
Despite the seeming impossibility of this, circumstances permitted Grant to return precisely as Julia had dreamed he would. It was but the first example of a lifetime of dreams and other extra-sensory perception experiences by which she often found comfort or made decisions of calculable risk."
Julia also recalls another dream in her memoirs:
"I am afraid you will pronounce me superstitious, but I must tell you of another dream I had. I had not received a letter from Lieutenant Grant for a month, and I suppose felt troubled about this, as he never missed sending me a letter by each mail out of Mexico. I dreamed the Monday morning paper was handed me and there the second name in the D's list of advertised letters was Julia Dent-2. I was leaning out of the window when the paper was handed to Sister Nell, who had just gone to the front door. I called down to her not to open the paper until I told her my dream, that she must look at the second name in the D's in the lisst of advertised letters and see if it was Julia Dent-2; and sure enough, there it was, and I lost no time in send for those two very nice letters."
Julia recounts another story where her suspicions were raised in another of her perceptive moments while at Corinth in Tennessee:
"As I made this remark, I happened to look up and saw a young man standing near the door. He started and looked surprised. I did not recognize him, and the thought flashed across my mind, 'What is he doing here? He must be a spy.' I at once wrote in the margin of my letter, 'Who is the strange young man? He is much interested in what is going on here. I am sure he is a spy.' The General wrote 'You are right; he is in our employ.' And would you believe it? It was found afterwards that he was a spy for both sides. He asked many questions: how each room was occupied and by whom."
Julia had discovered a double agent. I think.
In one of the more startling episodes regarding her extra sensory perception, she urged her husband to make arrangements to travel home on the night of the Lincoln assassination. She was already insistent that morning they should go, even before receiving an invitation to the theatre. After a postponement of a meeting with the President earlier in the day, Grant felt he could not oblige. Julia pleaded earnestly and Grant said he would see what he could do to satisfy her pleadings. It was after this Julia received a request from Mary Lincoln to attend the theatre and, as she did not trust the messenger or like the tone of the message, she abruptly declined. She immediately sent a dispatch to General Grant 'entreating him to go home that evening'. She also sent three of Grant's staff officers who had called to pay their respects to her to 'urge the General to go home that evening.'
"I do not know what possessed me to take such a freak, but go home I felt I must."
After this Grant sent word for Julia to have their trunks ready and if he could be in time said they would take the afternoon train for Philadelphia. It was on their way there that Grant got the news of Lincoln's assassination.
Julia's mother also made prophetic statements about Grant which I shall try to locate, but one more for 'Fat Tuesday' as it's called in some places:
"Our gaiety reached its climax just before Lent, when Nell and I had to divide. I accompanying mamma to all the quieter parties where there was no dancing; Nell, being claimed by some of our gay old French friends, sent to the great balls with them.
A great many of our friends used to go to New Orleans to be present at the Mardi Gras festival. Nell and I wanted to go, but it was not convenient for papa to allow us. I must tell of a very strange dream I had about this time. I had been reading George Sand's Consuela and was much wrought up over the reception in Venice so vividly described, and I dreamed that I arrived at New Orleans amidst hurrahs, salutes of cannon, a great display of flags and flowers, and there were bright carpets spread out for me to walk upon, or rather for the party I was with. I told this to my young friends, telling them that when I went there all this would happen. When I did visit New Orelans for the first time it was with my beloved, my hero husband, on his return from Mexico in 1880 where we had been on an extended and delightful journey. A train loaded with the nicest people of New Orleans came to meet General Grant and to escort him to the city. As we approached the landing opposite, a salute of twenty one guns was fired, and a shout of applause went up as we landed. This city of flowers was literally bedecked with flags, banners, and garlands. The people were dressed in holiday attire and smiles. Bright carpets were spread for us to walk upon."
The Personal Memoirs of Julia Dent Grant
Next installment coming soon ...
Last edited by a moderator: