Ami's SOA Julia Dent Grant - The Things You May Not Know

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When she got back to Washington, she became quite the “party” girl of her day so much so that Grant and Julia decided to send her to Europe when she was 16, and the rest, as we say, is history.
In all honesty, I was a bit surprised when I read her parents sent her to Europe when she was just 16 ... it appears they were a little too indulgent with her. And I'd say that started from a very early age. There are impressions on this thread to indicate Julia and Ulysses weren't inclined to 'discipline' their children harshly, and Nellie being the only girl, possibly a favourite of Grant, may have been particularly indulged in this respect. The outcome of that would have been a bitter pill for the Grant's to swallow, which may be why Julia wrote so little about it in her memoirs. Surprisingly little, considering what a great occasion it would have been!

I do like what the Headmistress says in terms of "no child could be unhurt by such attentions as she received". It make so much sense to me that too much attention is almost as bad as not enough attention. Either one has its pitfalls, but both can be extremely damaging to a child. It's interesting to note, even in the current climate, famous people whose children we are aware of and those we aren't. I'd say those thrust into the limellight with their parents are often going to come off worse for all the attention they receive (and some of it can be very negative).

It could be Nellie just didn't like being away from her very close family, too.

History, indeed, @DBF .
 

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Campaign and Inauguration:

"Believing it was her husband’s destiny to become President of the United States, Julia Grant never doubted that, once nominated by the Republican Party as their presidential candidate in 1868, he would win. The candidate did not openly campaign as in later generations, but delegations and individuals came to Grant’s home in Galena to meet him; there Mrs. Grant opened their home, serving refreshments.

On Election night 1868, Julia Grant remained home alone while her husband went to visit friends and play a game of cards, awaiting the returns. When it was clear that her husband had won the presidency, he returned home to simply tell her, “I am afraid I am elected.” Julia Grant joined him at the door of their Galena home in the morning hours after Election Day, to acknowledge a crowd of supporters who had gathered there to salute him.

36grant.jpg

A photograph of President Grant delivering his Inaugural Address; Julia Grant stands at far left, obscured by a black parasol. (National Archives)

Concerned about the content of his March 4, 1869 Inaugural Address, Julia Grant urged her husband to consult the rather facile Senator Roscoe Conkling of New York, upon finishing his speech, the new President turned to shake the hand of the new First Lady, quipping, "And now, my dear, I hope you're satisfied.” Following the ceremony, Chief Justice Salmon Chase presented Julia Grant with the Bible on which her husband had sworn his oath of office. Standing during the ceremony, she had her elderly father seated near her, despite his continued opposition to Grant’s politics. She would insist upon the now-infirm Colonel Dent live with her and her family in the White House.

37grant.jpg

The 1869 Inaugural Ball. (Library of Congress)

The 1869 Inaugural Ball, held in a wing of the Treasury Department which had been rapidly been completed for the event, proved disastrous with building dust still in the air, debris in the hallways, overcrowding and insufficient staff to handle the coat check. In her gown of white satin and lace, and wearing diamonds and pearls, the new First Lady was a figure of interest equal to her husband, sought out by celebrity guests including Horace Greeley, General Sherman and poet Julia Ward Howe."

(Taken from link in OP)

Love that image of Ulysses at his inauguration, it doesn't seem as dated somehow.

The aforementioned Inaugural Ball was, by all accounts, an unmitigated disaster ... posted about on the site before, it reads like a comedy of errors :eek:, the sort of thing that makes you want to laugh and cry all at the same time. Unless I missed it, and I don't know how, this Ball is not mentioned at all in Julia's memoirs. She does mention some other interesting experiences which I think are worth relating, so I'll put those in the next post.
 
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I recently heard someone give a talk about Van Dorn's Holly Springs raid.
He made the statement that Julia and son Jesse arrived in Holly Springs shortly before the December 20, 1862 raid and that they had moved on to Oxford to Join General Grant there before Van Dorn arrived in Holly Springs.
This person said that Julia was accompanied on this trip to Mississippi by her slaves.

Is this correct or was she simply accompanied by her African American servants who were not slaves.
Or can anyone tell me the facts, not suppositions, in this event.

Just wanting to know the truth.
 

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I recently heard someone give a talk about Van Dorn's Holly Springs raid.
He made the statement that Julia and son Jesse arrived in Holly Springs shortly before the December 20, 1862 raid and that they had moved on to Oxford to Join General Grant there before Van Dorn arrived in Holly Springs.
This person said that Julia was accompanied on this trip to Mississippi by her slaves.

Is this correct or was she simply accompanied by her African American servants who were not slaves.
Or can anyone tell me the facts, not suppositions, in this event.

Just wanting to know the truth.
Here is a wonderful article I've discovered which might help to answer your question:

The Two Julia's

"She couldn’t have managed without her slave. Though the slave’s real name was Julia, she was often called Jule or Black Julia. In Julia Grant’s memoirs, she described Jule as “my nurse and maid, a slave born in my old Missouri home.” Home was a plantation near St. Louis, called White Haven, where her father, Frederick Dent, and more than a dozen slaves lived a life more commonly associated with the Deep South. Jule was a small, “ginger colored” woman, according to one recollection.

Probably relating family lore, Julia’s biographer wrote that Dent gave the slave girl as a gift to his beloved first daughter when Julia Dent was born in 1826, but no records have been found. It is not clear if Jule ever legally belonged to Julia; historians still debate whether Dent retained legal title to the four slaves his daughter claimed to own. We know Dent influenced the Grants’ use of slaves. It was through Dent that Grant acquired a slave (whom Grant later freed), and Dent insisted that Julia leave her slaves with him when the Grants lived in the North, fearing they would escape to freedom.

When Julia and Ulysses Grant moved to Galena in 1859, Jule and the three other slaves remained with Dent in St. Louis, while Julia struggled to teach white servants to clean, care and cook like her slaves. Julia much preferred the familiar ease of Jule’s service, though. It is likely that in November 1861, when Julia traveled with her children from Galena to St. Louis and then to Cairo, she convinced her father and husband to allow her to take Jule with her.

Grant understood his tiny, cross-eyed wife’s need for familiar, reliable help to deal with unfamiliar military camp conditions and frequent moves, often with their four children in tow. As the price of having Julia with him, Grant tolerated Jule’s presence, though the slave’s arrival at his headquarters was surely an embarrassment. Almost immediately, one of Grant’s detractors tried to brandish Jule as a weapon against him. In January 1862, Abraham Lincoln received an anonymous letter from Cairo, decrying Grant’s drinking and his “secesh” wife with her slave, “as is the case now in camp here.” Though the president sought information from Grant’s congressman and sponsor, Elihu Washburne, Lincoln ultimately did nothing about the charges; perhaps his own wife’s alleged “secesh” tendencies sparked empathy for the young brigadier.

When Grant left Cairo in early February for Fort Henry, in Tennessee, he urged Julia to take her children and live with his parents in Kentucky. Several months later, after the Battle of Shiloh, he sent for her to join him in Memphis, and she followed when he moved his headquarters to Corinth, Miss. Julia, Jule and 4-year-old Jesse Grant then lived with the general in LaGrange, Tenn., before the trio pushed south to Holly Springs, Miss., in late November, courtesy of a pass that Grant issued for “Mrs. Grant servant & child.”

“When I visited the General during the war, I nearly always had Julia with me as nurse,” Julia recalled in her memoirs. “She came near being captured at Holly Springs.” Grant’s troops had seized Holly Springs only a few weeks earlier, and when Julia arrived, the sight of the Federal general’s wife with her slave provoked questions about her devotion to the Union cause. A Confederate woman who encountered Julia in a dressmaker’s shop asked, “You are Southern, aren’t you?” Julia replied, “No, I am from the West. Missouri is my native state.” The Mississippi matron persisted, “Yes, we know, but Missouri is a Southern state. Surely, you are Southern in feeling and principle.” Indignantly, Julia declared, “No, indeed, I am the most loyal of the loyal.”

Grant was at his temporary headquarters in Oxford, 30 miles south, when he telegraphed his wife on Dec. 19, asking her to visit him for the weekend. As always, she rushed to be with him, hurrying to the train depot with Jule and Jesse. In her haste, she left her carriage, her horses and most of their clothing in the house of Confederate sympathizers where she had lodged for the past three weeks.

Meanwhile, Gen. Earl Van Dorn and more than 2,000 Rebel cavalrymen were racing toward Holly Springs. One of the raiders who attacked the town at dawn on Dec. 20 later described the “wild and exciting” scene: “torches flaming, guns popping, sabres clanking, negroes and abolitionists begging for mercy, women in dreaming-robes clapping their hands with joy.” Capt. Robert Murphy surrendered more than 1,000 Union soldiers without a fight. He also handed over tons of military, medical and food supplies – and Julia’s carriage – all of which the Confederates put to the torch.

That was a great haul for the rebels, but they had their eyes on another prize: Mrs. Grant. According to Julia, “Some of Van Dorn’s staff officers rode up to the house of which I had lately been an inmate and asked for me.” Van Dorn knew precisely where Julia was staying, and it is possible that he knew Jesse and Jule were with her, too. In fact, Jule might have been an even greater catch for the Confederates than Julia that morning. Capturing Julia Grant would have pained and embarrassed one Union general. Capturing Jule at that particular time would have embarrassed the president of the United States. Twelve days from then, as the whole world already expected, Abraham Lincoln would sign his Emancipation Proclamation.

Although we know almost nothing about Jule, the slave must have been an object of keen interest to free blacks she encountered as she accompanied General Grant and his family. Just as surely, Jule would have been curious about the slaves who fled their owners and followed Federal soldiers to safety, and about Grant’s initiative to settle former slaves on lands abandoned by secessionists. As the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation neared, the trickle of slaves seeking freedom behind Union lines became a flood. Jule must have wondered at a world in which any other slave in the South but she could find freedom in General Grant’s camp.

After their fortunate escape to Oxford, the Grants and Jule returned to Holly Springs, where they welcomed the New Year. Jule had reason to rejoice on that Day of Jubilee. According to Julia, Jule was no longer a slave. “Eliza, Dan, Julia, and John belonged to me up to the time of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation,” Julia Grant noted in her memoirs. Technically, because the proclamation did not free slaves in areas under Union control, Jule and the others might have remained in bondage even after that date, but a slave attached to Grant and his army of liberators would have been manifestly untenable after New Year’s Day 1863.

Even after that date, Jule continued her service to Julia, most likely as a paid servant, as Julia lived with Grant in Memphis and then in Vicksburg. By the end of November 1863, Julia was with Grant in Tennessee, comforting wounded soldiers in his camp hospital. It is almost certain that Jule was with her in Nashville in January when Julia learned by telegram that her oldest son, Fred, was gravely ill in St. Louis. Julia and Jule and young Jesse quickly embarked on what proved to be their final journey together. “At Louisville, my nurse (a girl raised at my home) left me,” Julia later recalled. “I suppose she feared losing her freedom if she returned to Missouri.” We know nothing of Jule’s life once she left Julia, except for one tiny but satisfying fact. In her memoirs, after describing Jule’s disappearance, Julia wrote, “However, she married soon afterwards.”

The tale of the two Julias reveals the complexity of the Civil War’s social landscape in a way that the traditional image of brother fighting brother does not. One Julia was a slave owner and the wife of the general who defeated a slave nation. The other Julia was her slave for 37 years. The two women grew up side by side, but in two entirely different worlds. They traveled together nearly 5,000 miles, risking their freedom and their lives. They saw death, disease and destruction up close, yet they did not experience the same war. Julia Grant’s war destroyed a way of life she had loved, but her husband’s victories led to one she loved even more. By all accounts, no woman has ever enjoyed being First Lady more than Julia Grant. Jule’s Civil War was a wrenching but ultimately liberating journey from slavery to freedom. She risked more than her traveling companion during the war. We do not know much about Jule, but we know she had fierce determination. Once given her freedom, she refused to risk losing it."

https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/14/the-two-julias/
 
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First Lady:
4 March 1869 – 4 March 1877
43 years old

How She Perceived Being First Lady

Julia Grant recalled her eight years as First Lady with the same lavishly romanticized metaphor of a flourishing garden of delights that she used in remembering her childhood. It was not merely the privilege of living in the Executive Mansion and its inherent right to decorate the public rooms and entertain at formal functions, but also the adulation she received personally when she made public appearances, a role she especially relished. Although press and public acknowledgement that women married to or serving as an official hostess to an President held a unique, national status began with Martha Washington at the presidency’s inception, few of the previous women so entirely embraced this as did Julia Grant and none for as long a period. There was also novelty for the public in having a president’s wife solely assume the First Lady role for eight consecutive years; the last time such a situation has occurred was over a half a century earlier when Dolley Madison ended her White House tenure in 1817.

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Julia Grant as First Lady, 1870. (Library of Congress)

By her spoken and written remarks, Julia Grant indicated her belief that, by virtue of the fact that she was married to the President, she was herself a unique public figure; it may well be that implicit in this sense of entitlement was that she had earned it by the sacrifice and hardship she endured through the entirety of her marriage, for the sole purpose of supporting and defending her husband. However, since Julia Grant always cautiously avoided leaving too detailed a record of any suffering she had endured on behalf of her husband, her sense of self as a rightful public figure was often perceived as a naively arrogant suggestion that she was a queen of a democracy. In truth, she was highly conscious of the fact that any public glorification or condemnation that she personally received was a form of reflective honor or insult to her husband. She believed firmly that, apart from his glorious military career, Ulysses Grant was destined for the presidency, based upon a prophecy made by her mother in the 1850s that this “little man will fill the highest place in the government….He is a great statesmen.”

If she viewed her role as one worthy of public respect, there was also, however, a sense that Julia Grant did not always align it with a sense of obligation of public sacrifice, readily accepting gifts and offered privileges without considering the public reputation of the donor or acknowledging even the potential appearance of conflict of interest. The Attorney General’s wife, for example, believed this was due to the fact that, protected by the chivalrous protection of women, she had never been “taken down,” for her acquisitiveness or held responsible for her choices, finding her "simplicity itself almost flat sometimes…impulsive and governed by her prejudices.” Still, she concluded, “one cannot help liking her because she is so genuine."

One example of what some might have seen as naiveté but others might admirably view as integrity occurred during the Centennial celebration, when some women assembling a cookbook with recipes from prominent women wrote the First Lady requesting an original recipe. Julia Grant fretted about how to respond. Having always had servants to prepare her family’s meals, she had little to no experience with cooking or baking. The only foods she knew how to make were a cake from someone else’s recipe, and jams others cooked as she watched; she finally provided one for chicken gumbo with the honest disclosure that it was from a friend.

(Taken from link in OP)

Julia seems to continue with her delightful sense of naivete during her sojourn at the White House which left her open to both criticism and admiration. Her greatest concern appeared to remain protecting the reputation of her husband which she had always done with tenacity. The fact she was 'genuine' in her dealings, lacking the guile to be anything else, probably endeared her to many people in spite of what some saw as her extravagance at times. And a recipe for chicken gumbo seems appropriate somehow, even if it was a friend's :smile:
 
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Here's what gets me whenever people judge how well first ladies did their "jobs," especially in the "olden days;"

Back in the "olden days," it wasn't considered very socially acceptable for women to have paid employment.

(Some women DID of course have paid employment (such as domestic staff, actresses, New England cotton mill wokers, female Civil War munitions factory workers, nurses, governesses, etc), and of course female slaves had non-paid employment.)

However, even though first ladies didn't have paid employment, they were still supposed to perform all of these duties, and they were judged very harshly if they didn't fulfill those duties and keep lots of different interests happy. They just didn't receive their own paycheck for any of this. In fact, I would argue that even in the most recent decades and perhaps even today, first ladies are expected to perform "for free" all sorts of tasks that really should be assigned to paid staff.

It seems to me as if the American public expects first ladies to do their duties cheerfully, but at the same time, to not enjoy the role "too much."

This is in regards to all first ladies in general, not just this one. I'm not defending the allegations about accepting expensive gifts from questionable parties.

Also, what a HUGE difference this all was from Rachel Jackson's experience with the prospect of filling this same role.
 

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I think there are lots of expectations put on First Ladies in terms of the profile they have and, along with their husbands, the duties they are required to fulfill. I think most people assume the role of First Lady is a 'privilege', and therefore should be treated in that vein. You don't get paid for privilege. This might go back to the point around Julia not exposing how much she had gone through up to that point as the wife of Ulysses S. Grant and some of the hardships that entailed. People didn't consider what it took to get there, making it easy for them to criticize her for her 'sense of self as a rightful public figure'.
 
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I just posted this thread today on another “First Lady” - one that was younger, prettier and very popular. When I was studying Frances Cleveland, I did think of Julia Grant at times, and realized every First Lady brings her unique, distinctive style to this difficult job.
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/when-a-president-married-his-princess.159228/

CC - I enjoy when you return to post on this thread!!
 

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I just posted this thread today on another “First Lady” - one that was younger, prettier and very popular. When I was studying Frances Cleveland, I did think of Julia Grant at times, and realized every First Lady brings her unique, distinctive style to this difficult job.
https://civilwartalk.com/threads/when-a-president-married-his-princess.159228/

CC - I enjoy when you return to post on this thread!!
Thanks, @DBF, and I took a look at your thread which I shall go back and reply to as well. One of the things I did notice was that being so young, Cleveland made a decision to send Frances away for some 'finishing' in Europe in order to give her the skills required to fulfill her role as First Lady. That was a wise decision in terms of preparation for one so young. And I don't think it would be an easy role to walk into even as a more 'mature' woman as Julia's experience shows. There is no way to please everyone and being in the spotlight you would also be the target of much criticism. Fame has it's downfalls, as they say.
 
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How much did Julia enjoy the White House - - -

“Ulysses S. Grant turned to his wife and said, "And now, my dear, I hope you're satisfied."Julia was more than satisfied. She loved her role as First Lady, and her busy social schedule entertained Washington society.” *

How much did Julia hate to leave the White House in 1876 - - -

“When she finally left the White House and Washington, D.C., she wept, complaining to her husband, "Oh, Ulys, I feel like a waif, like a waif on the world's wide common.” *

How much did Julia want her husband to run for a 3rd term in 1880 - - -

“Julia Grant held optimistic hope that a movement among the “Stalwart” wing of the Republican Party then underway to draft the former President for an unprecedented third term would return her to the White House. When James Garfield was instead nominated, the former First Lady was privately devastated, despite the fact that her husband did not seriously wish to become President again.” **

*https://millercenter.org/president/grant/essays/grant-1869-firstlady
**National First Lady’s Library
 

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How much did Julia enjoy the White House - - -

“Ulysses S. Grant turned to his wife and said, "And now, my dear, I hope you're satisfied."Julia was more than satisfied. She loved her role as First Lady, and her busy social schedule entertained Washington society.” *

How much did Julia hate to leave the White House in 1876 - - -

“When she finally left the White House and Washington, D.C., she wept, complaining to her husband, "Oh, Ulys, I feel like a waif, like a waif on the world's wide common.” *

How much did Julia want her husband to run for a 3rd term in 1880 - - -

“Julia Grant held optimistic hope that a movement among the “Stalwart” wing of the Republican Party then underway to draft the former President for an unprecedented third term would return her to the White House. When James Garfield was instead nominated, the former First Lady was privately devastated, despite the fact that her husband did not seriously wish to become President again.” **

*https://millercenter.org/president/grant/essays/grant-1869-firstlady
**National First Lady’s Library
Love it! Julia certainly did revel in her role, felt proud of her husband's achievements, and basked in the glory of them.

She was probably more taken up with his status than he was! Pretty sure he was a reluctant incumbent from the start ...

Julia was always the 'socialite' of the family is my impression, and what could be more 'social' than the role as First Lady, having to entertain important guests from around the world. I think she revelled in the social aspect of her role and what it brought to her.

If we look back at @Forks of the Ohio 's post on this, there is little compensation for a First Lady in terms of her role. If one did not enjoy this aspect of it then it's going to be a long haul over four years :eek: and makes that eight in Julia's case :eek::eek: She had to enjoy it, and a little 'grieving' at the loss of that is not untoward. Travelling the world in the aftermath hopefully helped to make up for it :smile:
 



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