Museum logo

Object Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Title Julia Boggs Dent Grant
Collection First Lady Dolls
Catalog Number 2015.017.020
Description Julia Dent Grant (1826-1902)
Wife of Ulysses S. Grant - First Lady from 1869-1877

During his education at West Point Academy, Fred Dent wrote his sister Julia about a fellow student, Ulysses Grant. "I want you to know him," he wrote his sister, "he is pure gold." Fred Dent had also spoken to Grant about his sister. In 1844, a young lieutenant, Grant began to routinely visit the Dent family at White Haven.
For four years, Grant and Julia maintained an intense correspondence, Grant often composing letters from his tent on the battlefields. Grant returned from the Mexican War in late July of 1848 and suggested to Julia that they marry as soon as possible. After waiting four years, Julia Dent was eager to comply.
At age 22 years old, Julia Boggs Dent married Hiram Ulysses Grant on August 22, 1848, in St. Louis, Missouri. (Note: Contrary to wide belief, Grant's middle name was not "Simpson," and he later confessed that his taking of the middle initial of "S" was merely an affectation.)
The attraction between Ulysses and Julia was intense and lifelong. Julia had a series of affectionate nicknames for him, such as "Victor" (as in always the winner), Dodo, and Dudy.
By conventional standards, Julia Dent Grant was often described as plain, due largely to her crossed eyes. Highly self-conscious about this physical defect, in later years she scheduled an appointment for surgery to correct it. Her husband gently reminded her that he had fallen in love with her despite the appearance of her eyes. This remark convinced her to remain as she was and also reminded her of the secure love of her husband.
Julia Dent Grant was 43 years old when she became First Lady to the President. 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.
She both broke and set new social precedents. Julia ignored the traditional customs that forbid Presidents and their spouses from dining in private homes outside the White House or in public restaurants.
A Literary Digest reporter, granted an 1896 interview by Mrs. Grant, recorded that, "No married couple ever lived closer to each other than did the General and Mrs. Grant. She was, perhaps, his only real confidant. The two were one in almost everything, and their life was a most beautiful one."
By her life's end, Julia Grant offered an embodiment of broad national identity, rather than being narrowly defined by the strong regionalism that sill marked the identity of most public figures at the turn of the 20th century.
Julia Grant spent her final summers in Ontario, Canada, in the town of Cobourg, where her daughter had rented a large brick house with a lake view. In the fall of 1902, she developed severe bronchitis with heart and kidney complications and in October was returned to her home in Washington. She died at her Washington D. C. home on December 14, 1902. She was 74 years old.
Event Bicentennial First Lady Doll Exhibit - Community Project
Creator Park, Phyllis Juhlin
Costume Costume by Peggy Sharp Tolman
Given Given by Julia Dillman Robinson
Source Uintah County Library