The General’s Wife: The Life of Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant


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Behind every successful man there stands a woman.

This maxim was never truer than with Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia.

Through all the turbulence of his lengthy career, Julia stood firm to support him through all the obstacles that fortune threw in their way.

Julia was certainly not passive as her husband rose through the ranks of the army and eventually became President of the United States. Indeed, through the course of the Civil War, she left their children with relatives and stayed with Ulysses during campaigns in Memphis, Vicksburg, Nashville and Virginia, travelling more than ten thousand miles in four years.

She performed the role of First Lady with great dignity, organizing spectacular events and hosting leaders from across the globe.

Yet, as Ross highlights, the marriage was not without difficulty and sometimes contradictions, for although Ulysses was fighting for the Union and the cause of emancipation, Julia had come from a slave-owning family and this had caused a great deal of consternation in his family.

Ishbel Ross’s superb biography of this remarkable woman uncovers a truly remarkable marriage and has brought the life of this fascinating First Lady back from the shadows of her husband’s career and into the public eye once more.

“Ulysses and Julia Grant were a profoundly united couple, and so it is not easy to make a clear distinction between his life and hers. The two loved and needed each other. … It is very pleasant to get to know Julia Grant, who, in her devotion, was one of the more potent women in American history.” The Saturday Review

“Lengthy, well-written, carefully detailed, this biography of the plain, devoted and ambitious wife of a great general and lesser president will appeal greatly … its emphasis on the life and manners of the Grant era should make it a valuable addition to the domestic history of Victorian America.” Kirkus Reviews

Ishbel Ross was a prominent biographer of many of the most important women in American history. Her book The General’s Wife: The Life of Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant was first published in 1959, and she passed away in 1975.