Monday, December 14, 2009

She Was The Daughter Of Slave Owners

Julia Boggs [Dent] Grant, the wife of General Ulysses S Grant died December 14th 1902.

Julia Boggs [Dent] Grant was the daughter of slave owners; Colonel Frederick and Ellen [Wrenshall] Dent. She was born at the families plantation, White Haven west of St Louis Missouri. Julia attended boarding school in St Louis for seven years, where she excelled in art and voice.

She met Ulysses S Grant who was a classmate at West Point with her brother Frederick, at her home where he was welcomed for visit. Grant proposed a number of times before Julia accepted. After a four year engagement; the delay caused by the Mexican American War, Julia married Grant on August 22nd 1848 at her home. Neither of the couple’s parents truly approved. Grants parents refused to even come to the wedding. As most army wives Julia followed her husband to several military posts including Detroit and Sackett‘s Harbor, New York, before returning to her parents home when Grant was sent to West Coast. After he resigned from the military in 1854, and several farming and business venture failed, Grant and Julia moved in 1860 to his family home in Galena, Illinois. Then the Civil War began, and experienced military officers where in demand. Grant was quickly promoted to Brigadier General. Julia spent the war tending to wounded soldiers and sewing uniforms. Grant like to have his wife with him, and so Julia joined him on the War front when it was deemed safe. She was steadying influence on her husband, keeping his spirits up.

In 1869 Julia became the First Lady. She entertained lavishly at the White House, including the wedding in 1874 of her daughter. Julia referred to this as her “happiest period” of life. Being the first First Lady since Elizabeth Monroe to be in the White House for eight years, she made many improvements. Among them having the Army Corps of Engineers in 1873 add the Grecian columns to the front of the house. After leaving the White House in 1877 the Grants traveled around the world for two and half years. They were given every hospitality even enjoying dinner and a overnight stay with Queen Victoria of England.

Grant had yet another business set back in 1884, loosing all their money. Knowing he was dyeing of cancer, Grant wrote a personal memoir, to provide money for Julia to live on. On April 27th 1897 Julia attended the dedication of Grant’s Tomb on the Hudson River in New York City. She died December 14th 1902 at the age of 76 and was laid to rest beside her husband.

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