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Photograph of Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, from a Brady Negative, 1912

President. Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_15185
Document Description
Photograph of Julia Dent Grant (Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant) from a Brady negative from life, in the collection of F. H. Meserve. New York, 1912.
Why would someone take a photograph of Julia Grant?
Did a lot of people have their photographs taken during this time period?
What does this photograph tell you about American culture in the Civil War era?
Historical Challenges
What was Julia Grant's father's opinion on slavery? What were her husband's views on slavery? Which one did she agree with more?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: Learn about photographic techniques used in the 1800s. Compare them to processes used today.
English Language Arts: Pretend you are Julia Grant and write an encouraging letter to your husband, who is fighting the Civil War.
Clinton, Susan. First Ladies. Chicago: Children's Press, 1994. ISBN: 0516066730
Gormley, Beatrice. First Ladies: Women Who Called the White House Home. New York: Scholastic, 1997. ISBN: 0590255185
Mayo, Edith P., ed. The Smithsonian Book of the First Ladies: Their Lives, Times, and Issues. New York: H. Holt, 1996. ISBN: 0805017518

About this Activity


Lesson Topic:


Historical Context
Julia Dent was born in 1826 on her family plantation near St. Louis, Missouri.  In 1844, after returning home from a boarding school for young ladies, Julia met her brother's friend Ulysses S. Grant, a young army lieutenant stationed nearby at Jefferson Barracks. Julia's father had hoped for a wealthy match for his daughter, and Grant was only a poor soldier.  Nevertheless, when Grant proposed to Julia, she accepted.  After a long separation due to the Mexican War, the couple was married on August 22, 1848.

As Grant's wife and mother of four children, Julia faced the difficulties of army life, frequent separations from her husband, and financial hardship. She also enjoyed the attention that came with being the wife of a Civil War hero and president of the United States.  

Julia Dent Grant died in 1902, seventeen years after the death of her husband.  She is buried with him in Grant's Tomb in New York City.

Essential Question
How do individuals influence national and global events?
Check for Understanding
Describe the individual in the photograph and evaluate Mrs. Grant's impact on American society.