Julia Dent Grant - The Things You May Not Know

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#21
“Mrs. Orvil Grant - General Grant’s Sister-In-Law/She Insults the General’s Domestic Life/Denies Orvil Grant Died in a Mental Asylum/Vengeful Wrath Over General Grant’s Widow/Exclusive Disclosures”
https://www.granthomepage.com/intmrsorvilgrant.htm

It reads like today’s National Enquirer - but inquiring minds want to know!
That is a fascinating article and insight into the inner workings of the Grant family. The sister-in-law was obviously not impressed with the affection which continued to be shown between the couple - even in their later years - nor the manner in which they raised their children. She certainly wasn't happy about not being given a loan when she requested it. This sounds much like the stuff of normal families in many ways, and the type of gossip that goes on amongst various family members. Julia did not fit in with the strict disciplines of the Grant family which is probably one of the reasons Grant fell in love with her. She was not 'stuffy' and willing to share her affections which seems to be something Grant was denied growing up. No wonder he so sorely missed her when they were apart. She brought life and love to him, and rather than see this, the sister-in-law chose to see all the negatives of their situation - going so far as to call Grant a Dent in his mannerisms when he was with Julia. Grant would not have brooked her criticism of Julia, so her respect for him was belied by the fact she did not respect his wife. It's a very telling sign. She was happy to praise Grant, but not the woman he loved. Ulysses knew what side his bread was buttered on and he chose wisely in returning his wife's affections and ignoring the rest. It's interesting to see the imperfections of these two, Julia and Ulysses, and no matter what criticism could be offered, that bond could never be broken.

This is my favourite line from the article:

"They still carried on as young lovers which did not flatter a couple that advanced in years. It was all tiresome by then."

Tiresome to whom I wonder?
 

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#22
Tiresome to whom I wonder?
To Mrs. Orvil Grant - I have to admit when I first read this I was shocked at how much she was willing to admit to. I had to laugh at her story - -

“It was a Sunday and he came down the stairs in his stocking feet and a red checked shirt with braces. I can still see him. Julia was aghast. She ran up the stairs, intercepted him, turned him round and took him into their bedroom where she wanted him to change into something appropriate for Sunday.”

Can't you picture her herding him back to the bedroom? There is no doubt, I believe, that the Grant family and Dent family had differing views on affection between family members. Lucky for General Grant he found an affectionate family to marry into.
 
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#23
Lu - here is part of an interview from General Greenville Dodge where he has tender words for Julia Grant, General Grant, and the war - -

“It is impossible to think of General Grant without mentioning his wife, Julia Dent Grant. She was a devoted wife and after every campaign she visited the General and was welcomed by everyone in his command. She had a kindly, gracious way that captured us. The officers who had annoyances and grievances that they could not take to the General, appealed to Mrs. Grant. She knew which to consider, and which she could not take up with the General, and many an officer could thank her for solving his grievances. We went to her with great confidence in what she could do. There as no soldier who did not love to see her with the army, and who did not regret her departure.”
https://www.granthomepage.com/intdodge.htm

I don't think she wrote - I think she visited and it appears she was better at that than letter writing.
 

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#24
To Mrs. Orvil Grant - I have to admit when I first read this I was shocked at how much she was willing to admit to. I had to laugh at her story - -

“It was a Sunday and he came down the stairs in his stocking feet and a red checked shirt with braces. I can still see him. Julia was aghast. She ran up the stairs, intercepted him, turned him round and took him into their bedroom where she wanted him to change into something appropriate for Sunday.”

Can't you picture her herding him back to the bedroom? There is no doubt, I believe, that the Grant family and Dent family had differing views on affection between family members. Lucky for General Grant he found an affectionate family to marry into.
I kept wondering if he had any pants on :laugh:

I don't think Grant was ever overly concerned with appearances, so I guess Julia took charge in that Department. Probably not uncommon for a wife in that era to help dress her husband. Or now even!

Lu - here is part of an interview from General Greenville Dodge where he has tender words for Julia Grant, General Grant, and the war - -

“It is impossible to think of General Grant without mentioning his wife, Julia Dent Grant. She was a devoted wife and after every campaign she visited the General and was welcomed by everyone in his command. She had a kindly, gracious way that captured us. The officers who had annoyances and grievances that they could not take to the General, appealed to Mrs. Grant. She knew which to consider, and which she could not take up with the General, and many an officer could thank her for solving his grievances. We went to her with great confidence in what she could do. There as no soldier who did not love to see her with the army, and who did not regret her departure.”
https://www.granthomepage.com/intdodge.htm

I don't think she wrote - I think she visited and it appears she was better at that than letter writing.
Thank you so much for sharing this @DBF . I definitely think you have a point here with regard to Julia and her presence in person. Where she may have fallen down in the letter writing department, she made up for it when she visited. And quite possibly her eye problems contributed to her difficulty in letter writing. To hear her speak of Grant there is no doubt she loved him as much as he loved her.
 

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#26
I thought that when I first read it - however when I looked up "braces" they were men's suspenders - so they must have been holding up something. Can't you just picture Julia at the bottom of the stairs looking like "her" statue Booklady posted as she runs up the stairs. :running:
:D It was an odd way to put it, but I was guessing they had to be holding something up. So, it must have been his shirt that was objectionable. I can imagine she looked disapproving :nah disagree: !
 
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#27
I came across this little story a while ago, and thought I might post it here.

Marie Dressler (1868-1934) would become one of the greatest comediennes and character actresses of Hollywood’s early talkies. She won an Oscar for Min and Bill (1930) and starred in several other classics.

In 1897, when she was an up-and-coming Broadway star, she took a vacation at Marion House on Lake George. Alone, and “on the stage”, she found herself snubbed by the society types in the place. One day, as she sat at a piano playing and singing to herself, an old lady peeked in from the window, and asked if she could do “Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms”. Marie asked her in and sang for her, and in turn got invited back to the old lady’s cottage for tea, where she also met her daughter. Neither woman seemed to care in the least about her profession.

To her astonishment, when she went to dinner at the hotel that evening, all the snobs that had snubbed her where now warmly welcoming her. The old lady had introduced herself as “Mrs. Grant” – but that is a common name. Only now did Marie realize that she was the former First Lady, Julia Dent Grant.

https://featherfoster.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/julia-grant-and-the-actress/

Kennedy, Matthew – Marie Dressler : A Biography, With a Listing of Major Stage Performances, a Filmography and a Discography, McFarland & Co. Publishing, 1998 (p. 31-32) https://books.google.no/books?id=-h8Qy3pZGnoC&printsec=frontcover&hl=no#v=onepage&q&f=false
What a wonderful story!
 
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#28
Julia Dent Grant and her sisters - another interesting tidbit of Julia’s life when she was a still a Dent. Ulysses Grant was serving in Mexico and her letters were “few and far between”, but he wrote it shows how insecure he was when he hadn’t heard from here for awhile. - - -

“Grant admitted to her {Julia} that the time between battles was burdensome. ‘I have the Blues all the time,’ he wrote. She had moved to St. Louis with her younger sister, Nell, and attended school, and her social life had become far more active. Grant assumed the worst. ‘I believe you are carrying on a flirtation with someone, as you threaten of doing,’ he wrote her. In truth, it was Nell who had brought the young men of St. Louis into Julia’s orbit.”
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/general-grant-in-love-and-war-94609512/#zuHcy5UdRpgGuuPY.99

Some have said when Frederick Dent thought to play matchmaker - it was Ellen or Nellie that he was thinking of.

This link has an interesting article entitled:

“When Grant Went-a Courting” by Emma Dent Casey - she was just a “very little girl” when she met the future General and she has some interesting observations.

https://books.google.com/books?id=r14wAQAAMAAJ&dq="when grant went a courtin'"&pg=PA11#v=onepage&q="when grant went a courtin'"&f=false
 
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#29
“When Grant Went-a Courting” by Emma Grant Casey - she was just a “very little girl” when she met the future General and she has some interesting observations.
Can't seem to get any more than a title to the article with the link @DBF ... is there another way to access this?

I've more to add on this as well.
Some have said when Frederick Dent thought to play matchmaker - it was Ellen or Nellie that he was thinking of.
 

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Still struggling with access, but I do note that there is reference to Emma Dent Casey and Emma Grant Casey. I have also noticed this 'discrepancy' in Brooks D. Simpson's biography of Grant. As Julia's sister I'd imagine it should be Emma Dent and not Emma Grant which confused me when I initially read this. I wonder if I am missing something, or is this a common confusion for some reason?
 

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#35
Here's more on the Julia's two sisters and Frederick Dent's insistence that Grant consider someone other than Julia:

"On a Sunday morning in April, White Haven's piazza was filled with visitors wishing the colonel a safe journey on the morrow, when up rode the lieutenant, mounted this time on a dapple gray. Intent on accomplishing his mission, he hurriedly dismounted, rapidly walked up the stairs (giving Julia only the briefest of greetings), and commenced his campaign for her hand, cornering the colonel in the parlor as the rest of the family listened from the porch. Once more Dent objected that Julia was not fit to be a soldier's wife; Grant countered by saying he would resign from the army and accept a position as a mathematics professor at a college in Hillsboro, Ohio. Checked here, the colonel then made a most astonishing proposition - why not marry Nellie instead? But the lieutenant would not be deterred by this odd diversion ..."

And then we have Emmy:

Julia Dent met Ulysses S. Grant during one of the lieutenant's visits. At first there seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary going on, for two of Grant's friends, James Longstreet and Robert Hazlitt, often came along. But then Emmy Grant (sic) began to notice that her sweetheart was coming over more frequently; he was riding off along with her big sister Julia all too often; he found it easier to stay for supper if not longer. Perhaps he was simply happy to find another good rider: Julia could keep up with him. One slave recalled that Julia needed only slight assistance from Ulysses to alight on her mont 'like a bird flitting from one tree to another'. Who needed dancing?

Emmy finally realized the truth. One day, as she was walking to school, Julia and the lieutenant rode up behind her and offered Emmy a ride. As the trio approached the schoolhouse, Grant spotted the children looking out the window at them. 'They're looking at us, Emmy,' he kidded. They're saying 'Look at Emmy Dent! Here comes Emmy Dent and her beau!'

Emmy had heard and seen enough. 'Your'e more like my sister Julia's beau,' she exploded, adding a few choice words to indicate the depth of her disgust."

Poor Emmy :frown: She did have a crush on her big sister's beau :inlove: :cry:

References taken from Brooks D. Simpson Triumph Over Adversity
 
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#36
Further to the above post we also have something from Julia's memoirs:

"My father thought it best for him to stick to his profession, and to convince him that he had no objection to him personally, said: 'Now, if it were Nellie, I would make no objection, but my Julia is so entirely unfitted for such a life,' but the Lieutenant was not eager to avail himself of this Laban-like suggestion and, I am sure, convinced papa that if the life did not suit me, he would make me happy. At all events, permission was obtained for us to correspond. If we who were so young should not change our minds in a year or two, he would then make no objection. This was satisfactory to both of us, and we considered the matter settled. The General often used to tell sister Nellie (to tease her) that papa had offered her to him, but he had declined. This was told her when she was inclined to put on more airs than the General thought she was entitled to. They were always good friends, however."
 

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#37
Divided Loyalties

I have often wondered how Julia coped with the discrepancy between her origins and her committment to her husband and his role in the Civil War. If nothing else, it appears Julia was diplomatic in her dealings and always staunch in her support of Grant, the unity of the country and the need for loyalty in relation to both. The link provided in the OP gives us a little more insight:

"Role in Grant’s Military Career:
The marriage of Julia Dent and Ulysses Grant offers as unique a glimpse into the conflicts and challenges faced by couples of the mid-19th century who came from the two contrasting cultures of North and South. While similar in this respect to the union of Abraham and Mary Lincoln, the Grant marriage nevertheless provides a more dramatic context. Unlike Mary Lincoln who renounced her Confederate relatives, Julia Grant remained close to her slave-owning father and family members who supported the Confederacy. She did so at the very time that her husband was leading a war that accumulated an astronomical number of deaths to them as well as the Union Army that he led. Without apology for her family’s Confederate viewpoint, she was steadfast in her loyalty to her husband and the Union Army, a testament perhaps to her naturally diplomatic gifts. It was not a matter merely of shifting her remarks based on the views of people she encountered on either side of the conflict but her very presence in Union Army camps, to serve as ballast for her husband as he sought to remain emotionally steady through a rigorous sense of purposeful duty that was nevertheless traumatic.

In the initial phase of the Civil War, Julia Grant was uncertain about her role, feeling the need to volunteer with other Galena, Illinois women supporting the Union Army, but admitting to her lack of success when assigned to simply knit a pair of soldier socks in a week’s time.

Union Loyalty, Confederate Sympathy:
In a manner not dissimilar to what was experienced during the war by First Lady Mary Lincoln, a Kentucky native but First Lady of the Union, southern friends of Mrs. Grant verbally challenged the authenticity of her Union loyalty by revealing that they knew how to defy Union law and have their mail delivered to those living in the Confederacy, making it a dare for her to report it – which she did not. Her friendly trust of Confederate women she encountered in Mississippi, as well as her naïve decision to travel with one of her slaves and permit herself to be exposed to their negative anti-Union songs, seemed to only give credence to their charge that Mrs. Grant was with the Confederacy “in feeling and principle.”

From the moment he decided to enter the army as a matter of principled conviction that the southern states had no right to secede from the United States, her support was firm. "Julia takes a very sensible view of the present difficulties,” Grant wrote to his father at the time, “She would be sorry to have me go, but thinks the circumstances may warrant it and will not throw a single obstacle in the way."

Julia Grant held to this conviction knowing that it could irreparably damage her intensely close relationship with her father. Grant wrote to Colonel Dent, rationally explaining his decision to side with the Union, stating plainly that, “now is the time, particularly in the border slave states for men to prove their love of country. I know it is hard for men to apparently work with the Republican Party but now all party distinctions should be lost sight of, and every true patriot be for maintaining the integrity of the glorious old Stars and Stripes, the Constitution and the Union. the Southerners have been the aggressors.”

18grant.jpg

Julia Grant with her son Jesse, daughter Nellie and beloved father Frederick Dent who supported the Confederacy despite his son-in-law’s heading the Union Army. (Library of Congress)

Her father, however, conceded nothing on the matter, badgering Grant that he could much more easily enter the fray with higher military rank if he joined the Confederate Army. Grant refused, so enraging Fred Dent that he sharply retorted, "Send Julia and the children here. As you make your bed so you must lie." It was a testament to the couple’s commitment to each other that they never wavered, though the loss of previously close family relationships was devastating. "If you are with the accursed Lincolnites,” one of Grant’s aunts wrote them, “the ties of consanguinity shall be forever severed."

It was a tribute to Mrs. Grant’s considerable exercise of charm that she was able to maintain her absolute loyalty to her husband during the Civil War while avoiding an outright breach with her father. Other family members of both of the Grants declared themselves permanently estranged from the couple because of their Union loyalty. Whenever Unionists verbally attacked the South in her presence, Julia Grant disciplined herself to remain silent."
 

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#38
I'm back with a little addendum on Julia's mother and her prophetic abilities. This, taken from Julia's memoirs:

It was during the summer of '56/'57 when discussion was occurring in relation to the Western territories and their admittance as States, and whether they should be admitted as slave states. Grant was at White Haven and he and some other male visitors made their way out on to the piazza to smoke and no doubt discuss politics. Julia's mother heard them discussing the issues of slavery or no slavery.

"Mama came in half an hour later and was also lying down resting. She raised up and, pointing her finger on which was this same diamond ring towards us, said: 'My daughters, listen to me. I want to make a prophecy this Sunday afternoon. Remember what I say. That little man will fill the highest place in this government. His light is now hid under a bushel, but circumstances will occur, and at no distant day, when his worth and wisdom will be shown and appreciated. He is a philosopher. He is a great statesman. You will all live to see it, but I will not.' Sister Nell looked up and said: 'Mamma, do you mean my husband?' 'No,' mamma answered, with a slight show of impatience, 'no, I mean Captain Grant. I have been sitting on the piazza for the last half hour listening to those men talking without the least enlightenment on this important subject, until Captain Grant, in a few sentences, made the subject so clear and our duty so plain that I pronounce him a statesman and a philosopher.'
 
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#39
It must have been hard for Julia in her dealings with the Grant family. Everything I have read about her father-in-law, shows him to be a difficult man to develop a relationship with, especially when Julia had a history coming from a slave-owning family.

But even more interesting is the “almost” absence of information from her mother-in-law, Hannah Simpson. I found this interview (which claims to be the only time) Grant’s mother spoke to the press - September 16, 1879. She was visiting with her daughter, Mrs. Corbin, in Jersey City.

She is described as entering - - - “the handsome parlor into which the reporter had been ushered, and seated herself in an armchair of crimson velvet, which threw into strong relief her slender figure draped in black, and the pale, rather delicate features framed in puffs of silvery white hair, shaded by a dainty cap of lace”.

She speaks of her reading interests in papers - stating she only reads the “Christian Advocate” published in Cincinnati. Why? It’s primarily religious and she likes things from Cincinnati.

She appears to be proud of her grandchildren - and describes Ulysses as a youth - - - “He was always a steady, serious sort of boy, who took everything in earnest; even when he played he made a business of it.”

She had not seen her son in awhile as he was completing his European travels and when the reporter asks when she expects to see her son, she replies - - -

“Yes, my grandsons Ulysses and Jesse have gone to San Francisco to meet him. They think he will arrive on Saturday. Then he is coming through East. I have that they have got his house in Galena that the folks there gave him, all in readiness, even to the servants, but," she continued, bridling up a little, "I know he will come first to see his mother.” There is a note added that he did not come and see his mother.

But I think that last quote gives us an insight to his mother’s personality. When asked how she feels about all the demonstrations and accolades he received in his travels (his trip to Europe) she replies - - -

"No, indeed, we are not a demonstrative family," the sweet old lady said. "None of us care a penny for all the demonstrations in the world.

When I read about Jesse and Hannah Grant think of Julia - that old saying comes to mind:

“A son is a son til he takes a wife - a daughter's a daughter for the rest of your life.” This seems to play out in the Grant family

https://www.granthomepage.com/inthsgrant.htm
 

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#40
Ulysses mother, Hannah, never attended his inauguration. I must see if I can find something about this, but I remember feeling deeply hurt on his behalf that his mother chose not to go. So many things I hear about the Grant family cause me to understand better his love for Julia and how opposite she must have been in every way to his mother. Vivacious, outgoing, loving, affectionate, demonstrative.

She gave him what he never had, and what he never then wanted to let go of ...
 

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