Ulysses S. Grant




New York Journal and Advertiser
Missouri Republican

Julia Dent Grant (1862-1902)

Julia rarely publicly discussed the details of her early married life. Her letters from this period in her life are rare, and interviews with her were infrequent. Below are two interviews conducted with Julia, in which she speaks about her marriage.

Great General's Widow Tells of Her First Trip From Home, New York Journal and Advertiser, June 11, 1901

"A certain quaint simplicity and a charming, almost child-like candor are the two characteristics of Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, widow of the great General and President.

As she sat tranquilly in her luxurious suite in the Fifth Avenue Hotel, chatting smilingly of the days "when I was a girl," it was hard to remember that she was speaking of the 1840's and of the times when slavery was at its height.

"Never shall I forget when I came down the staircase that hot August evening in my wedding gown," said Mrs. Grant, laughing softly. "And I felt just as happy at that moment," continued Mrs. Grant, "as if I had been married in church, as girls are now, with a great crowd of people to see me. It wasn't the fashion then, by the way, for girls to be married in church. They were always married from their own houses, and in what would be thought now, I suppose, rather too informal a way.

"I remember, for instance, that Lieutenant Grant - he was just a poor Lieutenant then - called to see me on the morning of the day we were to be married. And never shall I forget how the family, especially the girls, teased me about it.

"Oh, it isn't proper for you to see her now," they said. "No one must see her today, not even the bridegroom. You must wait until tonight."

"He didn't, however," said Mrs. Grant, laughing heartily. "No, indeed!"

When asked what was General Grant's gift to his bride-to-be Mrs. Grant looked first puzzled and then a bit indignant. "What did he give me?" she said. "Why, he couldn't give me the sorts of things the bridegroom gives the bride nowadays. He was only a poor Lieutenant, you must remember, getting one hundred dollars a month. No, he didn't give me a single jewel. He brought me his miniature, however, in a little gold case, and though the picture in some way got lost, I have the case still. As you may imagine, it is one of my dearest possessions.

"In place of jewels, my gown and veil were caught with jessamine of the South, and my favorite flower. I had three bridesmaids, they were my sister, Sally Walker and Julia Bogg. They were dressed in white too, but their gowns were not so beautiful as mine. In fact, I never saw a wedding gown I thought so lovely as my own. Then we had a bridal cake which I cut and let me see, who got the ring? Somehow I can't remember that, one of the bridesmaids, though.

"When Ulys and I left the cruiser for our wedding trip, the guests all threw bouquets or flowers after us, as is the old Southern custom, and then," said Mrs. Grant, her eyes widening and deepening, "my husband took me for a trip up the Mississippi in one of those beautiful great steamboats. Oh, it was wonderful!" said Mrs. Grant, with a happy little sigh, relapsing into a reminiscent silence.

When she began to talk again, she said, as if to explain the silence: "You see, I had never been away from home before in my life, so that this trip up the river was one of the things I can never forget, and neither did my dear husband."

Widow of General Grant "Grants" an Interview, Missouri Republican, April 27, 1900

Mrs. Grant is well-preserved and does not appear yet to have reached a stately middle age. There are no traces of gray that mark the passage of the years and she moves with a comfortable assuredness that would be the envy of many a younger lady. It was many years before she was able to speak about her life with General Grant, and even now, there is a hitch in her voice and a slight quaver whenever she remembers something particularly emotional. Her candor is marked and refreshing. I asked Mrs. Grant if she recalled what the General looked like when she first met him.

"Oh yes!" she said, with an almost childish intensity. "I recall it quite distinctly. He was just a young man then, straight from the Military Academy only a year before."

"What did he look like? Would his face as a boy be familiar to us who only were acquainted with him later?'

Mrs. Grant thought a moment. "No," I think not," she said. "He was clean-shaven, very youthful looking. He was quite thin from a spell of consumption that had plagued his family, then and afterwards. But he was a darling little lieutenant. My family was as pleased with him as I was. At that time I would say we was more boy than man, but time changed that."

She recalled that her mother was fond of her beau, and that her sisters all thought him the most handsome officer that had visited their old farm in St. Louis. "But when he went away, it was to me that he left his school ring," she said, smiling pleasantly. "He had known my sister Nell before he knew me, and she was a bit crestfallen, I think, when she realized who had caught him."

We asked about her wedding day. "It was a grand affair in our eyes," said Mrs. Grant, the light flashing in her eyes. "Miss Jane Schurlds, an old family friend, brought me my wedding bouquet, and Caroline O'Fallon brought my wedding gown, which was the most beautiful I had ever seen. The Lieutenant and I spent the afternoon together at our St. Louis townhouse, even though my sisters frowned upon it. They said it was bad form, but we didn't mind. We were always happy in each other's company. He was staying at the Planter's House, but spent his days at our townhouse in the city. It was from that house that we were married."

After the marriage, the newlywed couple traveled to Ohio to visit the groom's family. "Our honeymoon was a delight," said Mrs. Grant. "We had waited four long years for this event and we adjusted to one another like hand to glove. The Lieutenant was always lovely to me when I was unjust or childish. I was still a little girl who had never spread her wings, yet he had been widely traveled. We saw everything though rose colored glasses."

Mrs. Grant recalled her husband's family, who were all "quite lovely" to her. "Our first trip lasted three months," she recalled. "Then parting from my father was very upsetting. My dear husband was perplexed at my tears, but he need not fear, for I knew I would not be separated from him again. My father was content to have me visit, especially after the welcome additions to our little family. He was always so dear to our little ones."

It was asked if she had any notion that her husband would someday become a great general and President of the United States. "You must not think me superstitious," said Mrs. Grant, "but I always knew my husband would rise in the world. I believed he would someday inhabit the highest office in the land. I felt this even when we were newly married and he was making a mere pittance in salary. My sisters used to tease me unmercifully, but you see who was correct!"



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