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USGNHS_081009_004.JPG: A Place Called Home:
The view up the hill appears much as it did in 1875, when President Ulysses S. Grant was planning to retire here. More than thirty years earlier, in 1843, he first visited White Haven as a young second lieutenant. In between those years, Grant and White Haven underwent vast changes in response to the turbulent issues that divided and forever altered the nation. Now experience that past as you explore the Grants' White Haven.
The slave plantation consisted of some 850 acres. At the center of the estate was the main house where Colonel Frederick Dent lived with his wife, Ellen, and their seven children.
Colonel Dent was a prosperous St. Louis merchant. He purchased the property located twelve miles from St. Louis in 1820 as a summer home, a haven from the heat and pollution of the city.
USGNHS_081009_011.JPG: Early Owners of the Farm:
The builder of the house, as well as its subsequent owners, were well-known and respected individuals, and the farm reflected their status in the St. Louis community. Modifications were made to the original two-story, four-room structure to accommodate growing families or individual needs. The home was called "the farm on the Gravois" (referring to both the creek and the road) until the Dents' ownership, when they named the house and its surrounding property "White Haven".
William L. Long: William Long began construction of the two-story portion of the house about 1816, shortly after his marriage. The Longs did not complete the home before selling it in 1818.
Theodore & Anne Lucas Hunt: Theodore and Anne Hunt purchased the farm on the Gravois in 1818 as a refuge from the city, where Anne's brother had been killed in a duel. The Hunts finished the house and added two rooms at the rear.
Frederick T. & Ellen Wrenshall Dent: Frederick Dent and his wife Ellen purchased the property in 1820, soon making it their primary residence. Their additions included a basement winter kitchen and a first floor sitting room.
Ulysses S. & Julia Dent Grant: Julia, the Dents' eldest daughter, grew up at White Haven. During the early years of her marriage to Ulysses Grant, they lived here off and on. Their emotional ties to the home influenced them to purchase the estate in the 1860s. A first floor kitchen was added in 1868.
USGNHS_081009_025.JPG: The White Haven Estate: Other Houses:
White Haven was the name given to both the house and the estate. Typical of many large plantations, other houses on the property were built and occupied by family members and slaves. White residents gave their houses special names. The slaves, however, did not give affectionate names to the one or two-room dwellings they occupied. These structures were simply referred to as cabins.
Wish-ton-Wish: Julia's brother Louis built Wish-ton-Wish (a Native American word for whippoorwill) in 1848. It served as a temporary home for Ulysses and Julia in 1855 and on their visits to St. Louis during Grant's presidency. Fire destroyed the house in 1873.
Hardscrabble: Ulysses built a house in 1856 on 80 acres that Colonel Dent gave the Grants as a wedding gift, although no deed legalized the transfer. Julia did not like the crude log cabin, facetiously naming it Hardscrabble. They lived there only three months, returning to the main house upon Mrs. Dent's death. The cabin is now located at Grant's Farm.
Slave Cabin: This slave cabin from a neighboring farm is typical of cabins in the area. Documents indicate that as many as twelve slave cabins were located behind the main house, perhaps across the small creek in what is today Forest Haven subdivision. Later records suggest that these cabins were demolished during Grant's ownership.
USGNHS_081009_028.JPG: Chicken House
USGNHS_081009_043.JPG: White Haven's Outbuildings:
Operating this 850-acre farm required numerous outbuildings. These included a spring house built over the spring to provide a cool place for crocks of butter and cheese; a barn behind the main house for livestock such as cows, pigs, and sheep; and lime kiln built along Gravois Creek to fertilize the pastures. The remaining two buildings before you serve as reminders of the work necessary to operate a self-sufficient farm.
Ice House: Preservation of perishable foods required construction of an ice house. Thick stone walls built into the side of the hill provided insulation and drainage, while a steep-pitched roof with a louvered cupola vented out warm air. Large blocks of ice were cut from rivers and ponds in the winter and transported to the ice house. One room was packed solid with ice blocked layers with sawdust for additional insulation. Foods placed in the rooms were thereby preserved through mid-summer.
Chicken House: Chickens and eggs were an important source of food and income for White Haven's residents. Caring for chickens was usually the responsibility of women. Enslaved cook Mary Robinson had Grant's dog Leo helped her catch chickens for dinners. Julia raised several special breeds as pets, and later the caretaker's wife Sarah and her daughters earned about $400 a year selling chickens and eggs. The chicken house was moved to its present location by 1913. Most farms kept at least fifty chickens on a half acre to produce enough eggs for family use and sale.
Like other farmers, Grant built his kiln near water, which was necessary to produce lime.
USGNHS_081009_048.JPG: Ice House
USGNHS_081009_053.JPG: The summer kitchen next to the main house
USGNHS_081009_058.JPG: Opposite Realities of Slavery:
"Most of our old colored people were from Virginia and Maryland, and papa used to buy for them great barrels of fish -- herring from that part of the country. Molasses, tobacco, and some whiskey (on cold, raw days) were issued regularly to them from the storehouse, and then they had everything the farm produced, such as all vegetables, bacon, beef, and, of course, poultry."
-- Julia Grant
Preserving Identify and Community: Despite the fact that slaves had little control over their lives, they found ways to maintain some level of independence. Julia thought Bob careless when he let the fires burn out and had "to walk a mile to some neighbors and bring home a brand of fire." More like, Bob intentionally let them burn out to escape his owner's watchful eye, even if only for a few hours.
Slaves grasped opportunities for building community by combining required work with socializing. Corn shucking provided an occasion for slaves to gather from many plantations, making the work easier by sharing food, talk, and song.
The Invisible Hand of Slavery: From Julia's perspective, her father's generosity to the slaves at White haven left them happy with their lot. She stated that they "had everything that the farm produced," ignoring the fact that the farm's wealth of goods resulted solely from Charles, Willis, William, and Jim's labors in the fields and enslaved women's work in the kitchen garden. Likewise, she grew up thinking that the "house kept itself" rather than Kitty, Rose, and Mary, who worked tirelessly to keep things in order. Julia did not grasp the irony that as slaves these men and women could not benefit from their own labors.
USGNHS_081009_062.JPG: The Slaves' Domain:
Slaves became nearly invisible in the presence of whites, while at the same time they created personal identify and kinship ties amongst themselves. Because whites limited their involvement with work spaces, slaves claimed these places as their own. Away from the eyes and ears of the Dents, they conversed and conducted activities in areas such as this laundry room, the kitchens, and the cabins; free from the restrictions placed on them in spaces dominated by their white owners.
Creating and Maintaining Families: Missouri law did not recognize slave marriages, therefore, couples that were allowed to wed could be separated at their owner's discretion. Julia noted that several of the enslaved men had wives -- on other plantations. In order to see them, Charles, Bob, Willis, William and Jim brought Julia pet rabbits, birds' eggs and fruits. Then they persuaded her to intercede with their father to get permission to "go home" and bring their wife gifts of money, sugar, or tobacco from White Haven. It is unknown how often these visits occurred, but the desire to see their wives and strengthen marital bonds apparently outweighed any difficulties they encountered.
Work and Play: Slaves, both young and old, worked long hours, leaving little time for leisure activities. Black children played with Julia and her sisters, but there was always a distinction between the owner and the owned. Enslaved children probably did not choose the game, or lead the activity, but followed behind the Dent girls, unhooking their fish, carrying buckets for berries, or decorating their playhouses.
Although work did not end at sunset, adults and children often gathered together for vital times of family interaction. When mending clothes or repairing farm tools, they seized opportunities to play games such as marbles and dominoes.
Jumping the broom was a traditional African ceremony symbolizing crossing a threshold to begin life as a married couple.
USGNHS_081009_065.JPG: Wash Day:
Slaves spent at least one day a week cleaning the many clothes used by the Dents and Grants. Children hauled water from the creek or a well for heating in the small, deep fireplace in this laundry room. Using lye soap and a washboard, the laundress soaked and scrubbed the clothes clean. The heat could be unbearable in the summertime and the scalding hot water and harsh soap left her hands chapped and raw. She then rinsed the clothes in another kettle of hot, clean water. After wringing them out, she hung them to dry on a wooden rack or over bushes and tree limbs.
USGNHS_081009_067.JPG: Laundry Room
USGNHS_081009_073.JPG: The Slaves' Experience at White Haven:
The stone building separated White Haven's owners from the heat generated by summer cooking and laundry, keeping the main house more comfortable for them. This room served primarily as a kitchen. The continual use of the fireplace coupled with the heat and humidity common during St. Louis' summers made it very uncomfortable for the slaves.
Enslaved house servants and cooks perhaps also used this structure as living quarters. Their owners expected the slaves to be conveniently available, regardless of their own needs.
Personal Activities: As in the winter kitchen, artifacts other than those for culinary use were found. Objects such as a toothbrush, pipes, and a hairbrush support the slaves' use of this space for personal activities. Slate pencils suggest the slaves were secretly learning to write, an activity prohibited by Missouri law after 1847. They conducted personal activities in the early morning or late evening so as not to interfere with the work for their owners, but even then they could be interrupted since slaves had no time exclusively their own.
Food Preparation: Enslaved cooks Mary Robinson and "Aunt Eadie" rose before dawn to begin their work, bending over an open flame all day using pot cranes and heavy cast iron cookware to prepare meals. Bones and shells found indicate that they prepared dishes of pork, beef, poultry, and wild game, as well as shellfish and eggs.
Common utilitarian ceramics used to prepare and store foods were found throughout the room. The varieties of china uncovered suggest that slaves such as Kitty transferred meals to serving dishes and carried them into the dining room, similar to the routine used to be winter kitchen.
USGNHS_081009_091.JPG: The Working Farm:
White Haven was typical of large farms in the area during the mid-1800s. As times changed, so did its operation in terms of labor, equipment, and methods. Its two owners, Colonel Dent and Ulysses Grant, also had different interests and therefore developed the farm according to their own preferences.
Products of the Farm: Dent's interest was cash crops such as wheat, oats, corn, potatoes, and hay sold at city markets. Grant's interests focused on producing grasses and clover for his horses. Both owners grew nectarines, peaches, apples, apricots and grapes as well as sweet potatoes, carrots, melons, and squash for personal consumption.
Farm Labor: Slaves worked the farm prior to the Civil War. Charles, Bob, Willis, William, and Jim did the daily tasks while additional free and enslaved men from neighboring farms were hired during peak times of planting and harvesting. With the end of slavery, all laborers at White Haven received wages for their work.
Farm Equipment and Methods: The introduction of mechanized farm equipment in the late 1830s reduced labor expenses. White Haven was the first farm in the area to have a reaper and thresher. Using the choicest seeds and employing the latest philosophy about crop rotation enhanced production on the farm.
USGNHS_081009_097.JPG: The Roads To White Haven:
Settlement in St. Louis County first occurred along the three main thoroughfare's out from the city: Gravois to the southwest, Manchester to the west, and Natural Bridge to the northwest. Railroad development paralleled the Mississippi River to the north and south, and the Meramec River to the west. After the Civil War, secondary roads and branch railroads rapidly developed.
Early Travel: Grant first traveled to White Haven on horseback down Gravois Road, then a dirt road stretching from St. Louis to Fenton. By 1854, laborers macadamized the road with a bed of heavy rock covered with a layer of tar and smaller gravel. Farmed selling crops in the city paid a toll to use the "improved" road. During hot summer months, the tar melted and the road became badly rutted from heavy wagons.
Improved Travel: Although Gravois Road would not lose its importance as a main thoroughfare, the expansion of the Pacific Railroad greatly increased the ease and speed of travel to White Haven and the neighboring communities. In 1872, Grant deeded an easement through his property to help establish the Carondelet Branch of the Pacific Railroad. In addition to the right=of=way, he also provided acreage near Gravois Road for a station that was named for the President.
USGNHS_081009_102.JPG: New Buildings for White Haven:
Grant's plans for developing the farm resulted in many improvements, including a barn and stable built between 1869 and 1872. The stable you see today housed Grant's houses. The barn also appears in the 1875 illustration of the farm sheltered cattle and sheep.
USGNHS_081009_104.JPG: The entrance to the museum from the old barn
USGNHS_081009_117.JPG: The Lives of Ulysses & Julia Grant:
Famous people are often defined through their public lives, in both positive and negative ways. Yet these individuals, like all human beings, fulfill many private roles as well. "An Intricate Tapestry: The Lives of Ulysses and Julia Grant" explores the Grants' public and private roles within the context of their time. The hub illustrates the loving relationship between Ulysses and Julia, essential to understanding them as individuals. Like spokes of a wheel, the adjacent exhibits reveal how Ulysses and Julia shaped and were shaped by events by the nineteenth century.
USGNHS_081009_124.JPG: As True at the Needle to the Thread:
One of America's greatest love stories is the marriage of Ulysses and Julia Grant. For thirty-seven years, their union endured times of financial hardship, agonizing separation, meteoric rise to fame, intense public scrutiny, and national and world acclaim.
Aspects of their loving partnership can be found in their letters and memoirs. Each excerpt on the pedestals presents elements of their relationship, fro friendship and romance, to playfulness, devotion, and passion. Their words reveal fascinating insights into this intriguing couple.
"You were as true as the needle to the thread, in poverty as in health, in adversity as well as in exaltation."
-- William Sherman to Julia Grant, August 9, 1885
Stories of Grant the Drunkard have become part of Grant folklore. Where did they originate? What is the truth regarding Grant's drinking? Historians continue to debate this issue, in part, because Grant publicly ignored the charges.
The closest Grant came to admitting a problem was a comment made in January 1864. He did not drink any alcoholic beverage at a dinner held in his honor, telling another guest: "I dare not touch it. Sometimes I can drink freely without an unpleasant effect; as others I could not take even a single of wine."
In the early years of their marriage, Ulysses and Julia were stations in Michigan and New York. At his second post, Ulysses joined a Sons of Temperance organization where he became an officer of the club. He provides no reasons for joining, though some have argued that he recognized his drinking problem and tried to curb it through membership in the society.
Political cartoons from the 1868 election did not associate Republican candidate Grant with drinking. By 1872, however, one cartoonist portrayed Grant as a ne'er do well drunkard in the Democratic effort to elect Horace Greeley. Few accusations of drinking were leveled against Grant while president and the issue subsided, only to be revived by historians in the 20th century.
"On one side we have he confusing testimony of contemporaries, along with long-standing innuendoes, rumor, and shady gossip. On the other side, in addition to contemporary testimony, we have Grant's unvarnished record -- a record that has stood the test of time and had stood scrutiny for generations.
"But we are stuck with the legend of Grant's drinking. Like [Washington and] the cherry tree and the dollar over the Rappahannock, it will stay with Americans forever."
-- Charles G. Ellington, "The Trial of US Grant: The Pacific Coast years, 1852-1854"
Newspaper accounts labeled Grant a "Butcher" following some of the war's bloodiest battles. Grant refused to defend himself publicly but privately told a friend, "They call me a butcher, but do you know I sometimes could hardly bring myself to give an order of battle. When I contemplated the death and misery that were sure to follow, I stood appalled."
The label stuck with Southern whites' promotion of the Lost Cause ideology: Confederate loss, in part, resulted from the North's (and especially Grant's) willingness to use its overwhelming manpower, regardless of the cost in human lives.
Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy, wrote in his diary in June, 1864, following the Battle of Cold Harbor: "Great confidence is felt in Brant, but the immense slaughter of our brave men chills and sickens us all... Grant has not great regard for human life."
The Civil War resulted in over 620,000 lives lost. No commander escaped having many soldiers wounded or killed in battle: General Grant lost 14,200 men at The Wilderness; General McClellan lost 11,657 troops in a single day at Antietam; General Burnside, at Fredericksburg, lost 10,900 soldiers; General Lee lost 16,914 troops at Gettysburg; and General Bragg lost 16,986 soldiers at Chickamauga.
"One of the harder questions about Grant, so often called the butcher, was whether he secretly enjoyed war too much. In fact.. while he took terrible losses in such deafening stride.... he often stayed away from the battlefield itself so that his compassion would not sap his resolve."
-- Jay Winik, "April 1865: The Month That Saved America"
USGNHS_081009_151.JPG: Acting On Principles:
Two of Grant's principles were shaped by early influences in his life. First, his father instilled a sense of equality of all men as a moral right. Second, West Point strengthened his conviction of duty and fidelity to flag and Constitution. At various times, Grant had to choose between acting on one principle or the other, until the Civil War enabled him to act on both.
"Whatever may have been my political opinions before I have but one sentiment now. That is we have a Government, and laws and a flag and they must all be sustained. There are but two parties now, Traitors & Patriots and I want hereafter to be ranked with the latter, and I trust the stronger party."
-- Ulysses S. Grant to Julia grant, April 21, 1861
A Test of Commitment:
Political tensions and person circumstances in the 1850s tested Grant's commitment to these beliefs. Marrying into a slaveholding family and working with Colonel Dent's slaves compromised his principles. However, when it was within his power to act, he did so. He treated Dent's slaves as men, hired slaves from neighboring farms at wages equal to whites, and freed William Jones in 1859.
Further in the political arena, his belief in preserving the Constitution and the Union outweighed his opposition to slavery. In 1856, fearing electing a Republican meant secession of all slave states and rebellion, he voted for a candidate whose election would prevent or postpone war, Democrat James Buchanan.
Union and Equality:
Grant's fears were realized four years later with the election of Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln. When war began in 1861, he immediately volunteered to defend his country. Grant's personal principles and the Administration's war aims -- union and emancipation -- were in accord by the fall of 1862. As general, he kept troops on the offensive, winning control of vital territories and destroying entire rebel armies. He also used his position to advance the principle of equality, and broke down stereotypes about blacks. Grant issued General Order #72 authorizing blacks to be hired and paid by the army as teamsters, cooks, nurses, and hospital attendants. Shortly after this, he began mustering in blacks as soldiers.
USGNHS_081009_166.JPG: Leading The Nation:
"I will not hesitate to exhaust the powers thus vested in the Executive whenever and wherever it shall become necessary to do so for the purpose of securing to all citizens of the United States the peaceful enjoyment of the rights guaranteed to them by Constitution and laws."
-- Ulysses S. Grant, Proclamation, May 3, 1871
Ulysses Grant assumed the presidency fully aware of the difficulties he faces. Initially believing administering in a non-partisan manner would smooth the process of reunion and ensure all citizens' equals rights, he soon found that was not the case. For eight years, Grant struggled to place the freedmen on equal civil footing, but deteriorating race relations in southern states, public interest in other domestic issues, and waning Republican support resulted in limited success.
The Fifteenth Amendment and the establishment of Republican governments with black and white elected officials in southern states, curtailed white Democratic power throughout the South. The Ku Klux Klan and other terrorist groups emerged in response, threatening and murdering blacks and whites who supported African American advancement. State governments, powerless to halt these groups, called for federal intervention. TO handle this unprecedented demand. Congress passed the Enforcement Acts, giving Grant the power to send troops into states to restore law and order. These acts, along with the reaction of the Department of Justice, allowed federal lawyers to prosecute these cases in federal courts and guarantee civil rights. Public condemnation of federal involvement and the subsequent gutting of the Fifteenth Amendment and the Enforcement Acts by the Supreme Court restricted grant's ability to protect African Americans, signaling the beginning of the end of Reconstruction.
The Election of 1876:
IN the 1876 presidential election, Democrat Samuel Tilden won the popular vote but disputed elector votes in Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana left the contest without a clear winner. With no law providing a solution and accusations of fraud threatening to erupt in violence, Grant resolved to form a commission consisting of ten Congressmen, equally distributed between the two parties, plus five Justices, to review the disputed returns. Their decision would be binding. Using his influence, Grant ensured Congress' acceptance. The commission's determination made Republican Rutherford Hayes president. Grant's decisive action averted a crisis, guaranteeing the peaceful transition of administrations. Although Republicans retained control of the White House. Hayes' election signified their abandonment of Reconstruction.
Perceptions of Grant as an incompetent president can be directly attributed to the scandals exposed during his presidency, involving members of his cabinet, public officials, and individuals with whom Grant was acquainted. Although historians have repeatedly asserted Grant's innocence, they have also blamed him for being politically naive in continuing to associate with those under investigation.
Judging Grant's abilities as president based solely on scandals provides an incomplete assessment. Grant's own evaluation included examining his ability to implement his domestic and foreign policies; taking pride in accomplishments while acknowledging some failures.
President Grant struggled to keep the nation's focus on African American citizenship, civil service reform, and free public education, while supporting its desire for economic progress. As a result, he faced opposition from those who were tired of supporting black civil rights, including individuals within the Republican Party.
Grant's detractors portrayed him as a bumbling fool, propped up by his corrupt political cronies, who ran the country. Charges of despotism were leveled in the belief that these individuals manipulated Grant', and would keep him in office to retain their own power.
"No other president carried on such a determined struggle... to protect the freedmen... In foreign affairs, ... he avoided war with Spain over Cuba, restored cordial relations with Great Britain, and directed the United States onto the world stage. In the West, he halted white efforts to annihilate the Plains Indians... [H]e initiated civil service reform [and] paved the way for the resumption of specie payment, re-establishing a sound currency and provided the basis for the orderly growth of the American economy."
-- Jean Edward Smith, "Grant"
A common perception of Grant is that he was a failure. His great success as a general led biographers and historians to measure Grant's actions in other careers he had against his military expertise. They often exaggerated the contrast between the unknown struggling citizen and the famous military hero, and intentionally or not, portrayed grant failing at everything but war.
In reality, the contrast was not so stark. Grant experienced success and failure throughout his life, letting neither the first go to his head nor the second defeat him.
In 1896, Colonel John Emerson described Grant stating, "As a farmer, he was happy and contented until his health failed. He was deeply interested in the new business which he had undertaken in Galena.. There exists no good reason, in truth, why any writer should portray Grant as a great failure in civil life. He was not. As a civilian, his qualities were those of a capable, all-round, high-class American citizens."
"A seemingly ordinary man who accomplished extraordinary tasks. Grant deserves our attention and our understanding for who he was and for what he did; both his successes and failures can teach us much about his America and ours."
-- Brooks Simpson, "Ulysses S Grant, Triumph Over Adversity", 1865
USGNHS_081009_175.JPG: From the beginning of their marriage, Julia wanted to manage the household expenses, trying to keep track of her spending in a small account book.
"I requested my husband to give me an allowance... The Captain readily agreed... mak[ing] me a most liberal allowance... and always brought it to me with seeming great pleasure. To tell the truth, my little book never, no never added up quite right."
During the Civil War, Grant was called "Grant the Sphinx" and "Ulysses the Silent." These sobriquets, when applied in a negative manner, equated his silence with stupidity. Quiet by nature, Grant's distaste for public speaking developed early in his military career. He seldom publicly defended himself or let others talk in his behalf. Believing rebuttals only added credence to accusations, he chose to let his actions speak for him. As a result, Grant remains something of an enigma, confounding historians who try to interpret the meaning of his silence.
In nineteenth century American culture, the sphinx represented a riddle or a puzzle. Because Grant was silent, many people thought he was unknowable and caricaturized him as a sphinx.
Although publicly Grant was taciturn and silent, privately he was an animated talker who always enjoyed a good story, witticism or joke. In this photograph taken at City Point, Virginia in 1864, Grant is seen relaxed, enjoying his cigar and the company around him.
"[General Grant's was] a silence born of confidence and command... he could listen to other men's chatter but have no need to add to it himself. This is the silence not of a man deadened to the world, but rather of one come alive to engage it... as others busily talked, he sat silent and in control."
-- Williams S. McFeely, "Grant: A Biography"
USGNHS_081009_187.JPG: A Welcoming Atmosphere:
Colonel Frederick and Ellen Dent made the property that they named White Haven their permanent residence in 1827. Living in the country did not diminish the Dents' social life as they continued to entertain friends from St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Louisville, and Cincinnati. Additionally, the home was a magnet for friends and schoolmates of the Dents' seven children. Slaves were responsible for keeping the home clean and the food plentiful, allowing the Dents to provide a pleasant atmosphere, where those who visited were welcomed as part of the extended family.
"My parents remained in St. Louis about eight or ten years, but their family was getting large and they thought it best to have a place in the country for the summer months, and they purchased the old homestead with about a thousand acres of land.... south of St. Louis on the Gravois Creek. My mother and father were great favorites in St. Louis and ten miles over very bad road was not considered too great an effort for friends to make for a day spent with Frederick Dent and family."
-- Julia Grant
USGNHS_081009_205.JPG: The Business of the Farm:
Nineteenth-century farmers, like those today, wore many hats. They needed knowledge of geology, horticulture, animal husbandry, and the latest equipment. They had to understand loans, banking practices, and the country's overall economic climate. Strong physical and mental constitutions also helped farmers meet the challenges of farming year after year.
Grant, Dent, and their neighbors fought wet springs, dry summers, early frosts, illness, and a nationwide economic depression during the late 1850s. Unable to recover from these conditions, Dent and Grant sold off their livestock and farm equipment in 1859.
"My intention is to raise about twenty acres of Irish potatoes, on new ground, five acres of sweet potatoes, about the same of early corn, five or six acres cabbage, beets, cucumber pickles & mellons and keep a wagon going to market evry day... If I had an opportunity of geting [sic] about $500.00 for a year at 10 pr. cent I have no doubt but it would be of great advantage to me."
-- Ulysses Grant, to his father Jesse, December 28, 1856.
USGNHS_081009_216.JPG: Saddles, Stables, & Stallions:
Ulysses' dream of developing White Haven and breeding horses began taking shape after he acquired the property in 1866. One of the first steps toward realizing that dream included changing the fields from cash crops to pastures planted with timothy (hay) and clover. He then fenced in the estate, improved and expanded the orchards, and stocked the farm with cattle, hogs, and, of course, horses. Grant shipped Thoroughbred and Morgan stallions and mares from Washington DC to the farm and wrote detailed instructions to his caretaker about breeding and improvement of the bloodlines.
"Have all three of my mares put to a blooded horse... If [my horse] Legal Tender is standing I think it would be well to try him... I have two colts here, one of which I hope to raise for a stallion to put on my farm."
-- Ulysses Grant, to William Elrod, April 28, 1868
USGNHS_081009_219.JPG: A map showing Grant's land
USGNHS_081009_223.JPG: Slave area
USGNHS_081009_227.JPG: Slaves Only:
Contrast this simple bead-board door to the finer paneled ones throughout the rest of the house. Its crude appearance suggests only slaves used this door to enter and exit the home.
One method employed to control slaves was to restrict their movements, such as requiring them to enter the house only through back door like this one. The Dents may have forces slaves at White Haven to use this doorway. Passing through it constantly reminded the slaves of their status.
USGNHS_081009_230.JPG: Green Haven?
Colonel Dent named the property White Haven after his family home in Maryland. Paint analysis indicated the home was painted various colors in the nineteenth century, including Paris Green with a dark green trim, as seen on this wall and door. This physical evidence, along with a ledger sheet from a local store where the paint ingredients were purchased, dates the Paris Green to 1874, during Grant's ownership. A typical color of the Victorian period, it is not what most visitors today expect to see, given the historic name of the property.
USGNHS_081009_233.JPG: The inside kitchen
USGNHS_081009_236.JPG: A New White Haven:
Ulysses and Julia's emotional connection to White Haven influenced their decision to acquire the farm from Julia's family. By 1866, the Grants owned the majority of the estate, but circumstances in their lives and throughout the country changed their relationship to the property in several ways.
Caretakers and Workers:
Previously, White Haven's owner lived on the property, while managing the farm. Because Grant's positions kept him in Washington DC, he could not be at White Haven to maintain and improve it as he wished. Grant hired caretakers William and Sarah Elrod and later Nathaniel Carlin to manage the farm and implement his plans.
The abolition of slavery also changed who worked on the farm. The caretakers hired and paid wages to the free men who provided all the labor needed.
Enslaved cooks had prepared food for the farm residents using antiquated stone fireplace sin the basement kitchen or in the detached summer kitchen. In either case, inside access to the dining room did not exist.
One of the first modern changes to the house during the Grant's ownership was this attached first floor kitchen, providing inside access to the dining room. In addition, the caretaker's wife now prepared meals for her family and the hired help using the modern, cast-iron wood-burning stove.
Caretakers temporarily occupied Hardscrabble before moving into the main house.
Women continued to prepare meals in the kitchen, and then serve them in the dining room.
The proximity of White Haven to St. Louis City made it easy to obtain modern household appliances.
USGNHS_081009_241.JPG: Vertical Log Construction:
During the 1830s, Colonel Dent enlarged the main house. He had a separate cabin built of vertical logs in the French Colonial style of architecture attacked to the side of the home and covered with clapboard siding to match the original structure. A portion of the vertical log wall is visible to the right.
When Grant gave his caretakers permission to construct the first floor kitchen in 1868, the exterior vertical log wall became an interior kitchen wall. Workers removed the clapboard siding, nailing wood lathe strings over the logs, and plastered the walls to create a smooth surface.
USGNHS_081009_243.JPG: Vertical log construction in this addition
USGNHS_081009_262.JPG: A Long-Awaited Reunion:
Assigned to duty on the West Coast in 1852, Ulysses insisted that Julia, who was pregnant, and their young son remain behind, fearing they would not survive the dangerous journey. What was to be a short separation lasted over two years. Ulysses' feelings of loneliness and depression were immediate and constant. For Julia however, surrounded by her family at White Haven and caring for their two small sons, feelings of loss and sadness developed gradually. The long-awaited reunion eliminated the pain of separation, but the experience altered the couple forever. Throughout the rest of their lives, they worked to minimize separations as much as possible.
"After an absence of over two years, Captain Grant, to my great delight, resigned his commission in the US Army and returned to me, his loving little wife. How very happy this reunion was! one great boy by his knee, one curly-headed, blue-eyed Cupid on his lap.,and his happy, proud wife nestled by his side. We cared for no other happiness."
-- Julia Grant
USGNHS_081009_267.JPG: Comforts of Home:
The Grants showed deep affection toward their children, whether it was teaching Fred how to ride and swim, being considerate of Ulysses Junior's sensitive ways, telling Nellie that the fireworks were for her birthday on the 4th of July , or wrestling on the floor with Jesse. Ulysses and Julia involved themselves in their children's worlds through playing, teaching, listening, reprimanding, or indulging, as each child needed. The bonds they created with their children provided the solid foundation that kept the family close even when miles separated them.
"[In the evening, time] was spent usually listening to Fred's stories of his prowess... [and Ulysses Junior's] doing and sayings, Nellie, being the only girl.. was her father's favorite... [Jesse's] smallest word was listened to by all of us... After the little ones had retired, our evening was spent by the Captain reading aloud... and I was happily employed in sewing... and listening to that dear voice doing so much to amuse and entertain me."
-- Julia Grant
USGNHS_081009_271.JPG: "I used to give these dear boys lessons every day, asking them where they supposed the carpets, window glass, and the different articles of furniture came from; and they were much amazed to learn that the dark old wardrobe was once a towering walnut tree growing near the creek, that the old bookcase and escritoire were once great trees growing in the forests of Central America, that the clear glass in the windows and on the table was made from sand... and the soft carpets were all made from the fleece of the pretty white sheep and lambs."
-- Julia Grant
USGNHS_081009_274.JPG: A Silent Witness:
Mary Robinson, the enslaved cook for the Dents and Grants, observed and reflected upon household activities. In one respect, she was considered part of the family; nonetheless, Mary became invisible to her owners as she carried out her duties, entering and exiting rooms without disrupting conversations.
Mary and other Dent slaves understood that tensions developing in the home and throughout the country in the 1850s revolved around slavery. During the war, they fled White Haven, freeing themselves from bondage before Missouri abolished slavery in January 1865.
"While [Grant's] regiment was encamped in Illinois... he paid his father-in-law... a short visit... He and Mr. Dent sat up talking all night. I heard part of their conversations, and can remember what was said very distinctly... Dent was opposed to Lincoln, and tried to induce Grant not to fight with the Union army. He wanted him to cast his destiny with the South. This Grant refused to do... The interview... was a very long and heated one. It was not very satisfactory to either, I imagined, at the time."
-- Mary Robinson
USGNHS_081009_281.JPG: "The supper table of broad mahogany, covered with the sweetest and finest of linen, the heavy cut glass.. china of the daintiest and most delicate white and gold. The silver was solid and plain and always bright... I must not forget to mention the great bowls of cut glass filled with delicious strawberries, raspberries, and peaces and cream, and the two beautiful cut glass pitchers filled with such milk that used to decorate the corners of the table."
-- Julia Grant
USGNHS_081009_285.JPG: Growing Up With Slaves:
Julia, raised to believe slavery was a popular relationship between blacks and whites, expected Dent slaves to provide her with the comforts of life. In return, she considered them family members and believed they were well cared for. Typical of whites, she referred to enslaved men and women as "Uncle," "Aunt," or "Mammy."
Marriage to Ulysses placed Julia at odds with her husband concerning slavery. Ulysses challenged her beliefs on moral grounds. He presented slavery in a different light, and Julia found herself caught between her upbringing and her husband's principles.
"I think our people were very happy. At least they were in mamma's time, though the young ones became somewhat demoralized about the beginning of the Rebellion, when all the comforts of slavery passed away forever."
-- Julia Grant
USGNHS_081009_288.JPG: A House Divided:
In the decades before the Civil War, hope for compromise over the issue of slavery deteriorated as secessionist sentiment grew. Raised in a northern antislavery household, and adamantly opposed to the dissolution of the Union, Ulysses often found himself at odds with the southern Democratic beliefs of the Dent family. Despite living under his father-in-law's roof in the late 1850s, Ulysses did not hesitate to express his opinions. Heated arguments with Colonel Dent over slavery over Southern threats of secession created tensions within the family that often disrupted the home.
"I know it is hard for men to apparently work with the Republican party but now all party distinctions should be lost sight of and evry true patriot be for maintaining the integrity of the glorious old Stars & Stripes, the Constitution, and the Union."
-- Ulysses Grant to Colonel Dent, April 19, 1861
USGNHS_081009_315.JPG: "Papa found this place and the life so delightful that he gradually gave up all occupation and passed his time in the summer months sitting in an easy chair reading an interesting book, and in the winter, in the chimney corner beside a blazing hickory fire, occupied in the same way.
"Mamma, like my father, was a great reader, fond of poetry and music... She spent much time in reading aloud to us her favorite authors, calling attention to some passage that pleased or touched her."
-- Julia Grant
USGNHS_081009_317.JPG: A Daughter's Dilemma:
For four years, Ulysses courted Julia by letter due to his service in the war with Mexico. Upon his return to St. Louis, the couple married on August 22, 1848. For both, the union was a dream come true. Julia, however, soon realized that her marriage to a soldier had unexpected emotional consequences.
As the time approached to leave her childhood home for Ft. Detroit, Julia found it difficult to part with her father and all that was familiar to her. Seeing his daughter's dilemma, Colonel Dent made his outlandish proposition. Knowing that she could not and would not be separated from her husband, Julia left with Ulysses in November.
"About the middle of October... my struggle with parting with my father began... This parting, I felt, was to sever my bonds with home... I could not, could not think of it without bursting into a flood of tears... This disturbed my husband greatly... My father said: 'Grant, I can arrange it all for you. You join your regiment and leave Julia with us. You can get a leave of absence, once or twice a year, and run on here and spend a week or two with us...' Ulys's arm was around me, and he... whispered: '... Would you like to remain with your father and let me go alone?' "
-- Julia Grant
USGNHS_081009_321.JPG: An Invited Guest:
Upon graduation from the US Military Academy, Ulysses S. Grant was assigned to Jefferson Barracks, south of St. Louis. Making good on his promise to Fred, Ulysses visited White Haven in September 1843, where he learned that Fred had gone west to join his regiment. The Dents welcomed Ulysses into their home, and invited him to visit often. Ulysses enjoyed their company and soon became a weekly visitor. During one of these visits, in February 1844, he met Fred's sister, 17-year-old Julia, who had recently returned home from a stay with friends in the city. After this meeting, Ulysses became a daily visitor, spending most of his time in Julia's company.
"At the Academy in our last year [Ulysses and I] roomed together and I never had a pleasanter companion.... After we graduated I visited him at his home in Ohio. He then promised me to visit me at St. Louis... My people had heard me talk about him a good deal; they were glad to see him."
-- Frederick Tracy Dent
USGNHS_081009_325.JPG: A Secret Engagement:
During the four months following their first meeting, Ulysses and Julia's friendship blossomed. Ulysses surprised Julia by proposing, but she refused, believing she was too young. Julia discovered the depth of her feelings, however, when Ulysses was absent visiting his family in Ohio. Returning to St. Louis, he learned of his regiment's transfer and quickly requested a few days' leave so he could see Julia. Ulysses professed his love again, and as they talked quietly on the front porch he pressed his class ring in her hand. Knowing he intended it as an engagement ring, Julia accepted it, but insisted that they keep the engagement a secret.
"After [Ulysses and I] returned home [from the city], the balance of the week was most agreeably passed in long rides and walks. The day of parting came too soon. I begged him not to say anything to papa about our engagement, and he consented to this simply on account of shyness, he acknowledged to me."
-- Julia Grant
USGNHS_081009_375.JPG: White Haven In Crisis:
During the Civil War, Colonel Dent's political views isolated him at White Haven. He refused to enter the city to avoid signing a loyalty oath to the Union and his secessionist opinions cut him off from some of his neighbors.
Because of his isolation, Dent's financial activities were disrupted, reaching a climax in September 1861 when he nearly lost the property.
In contrast, the Dent's slaves soon realized that the turmoil of the Civil War provided an opportunity for them. They recognized that Colonel Dent could no longer control them and took charge of their lives. Never considering White Haven home, in 1864 they departed to establish homes of their own.
"You would hardly recognize St. Louis... Our streets are deserted, many of our stores are closed. Every thing seems as quiet & somber as a grave yard ... Secession is completely killed here, and it is hard to find a man who will acknowledge that he is not a Union man."
-- William S. Hillyer to his wife, May 15, 1861
USGNHS_081009_377.JPG: Antebellum Home:
White Haven was similar to large neighboring farms that grew grain in the early 1800s. Their owners, who embraced a southern lifestyle and supported slavery, considered their self-sufficient farms to be plantations.
German immigrants arriving in the 1830s and 1840s began changing the area. They wanted small "truck" farms to grow fruits and vegetables for market, and plantation owners, including Colonel Dent, were willing to sell portions of their land to them. The immigrants' use of hired help and family members reflected their free labor and antislavery ideas, contrasting with the views of the area's slave owners.
Colonel Dent, finding no buyer for White Haven, continued to operate his 850acre farm as before.
"The farm... was just a sweet, old-fashioned, 'down South befo' de wah' sort of place where my father was proud to dispense real old-time Southern hospitality. My father had taken many of the notions of the Southern planter to Missouri with him."
-- Emma Dent Casey
USGNHS_081009_412.JPG: A Labor of Love:
Financially ruined, Grant began writing his memoirs for the money it provided. He soon discovered he enjoyed writing and threw himself into his work. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with throat cancer and realized the book was his last opportunity to provide for Julia's financial security.
Grant's love for his wife motivated him to keep writing despite his illness. Determined to finish his memoirs, he endured severe pain and the ravages of the cancer, knowing the strain would shorten his life. Admitting the irony to his physician, he said, "I had been adding to my book and to my coffin. I presume every strain of the mind or body is one more nail in the coffin."
Advance sales assured Grant that his efforts would give his beloved Julia security. One week after completing his last labor of love, Ulysses died.
"The first volume [of my memoirs], as well as a portion of the second, was written before I had reason to suppose I was in a critical condition of health. Later I was reduced almost to the point of death... I have, however, somewhat regained my strength, and am able, often, to devote as many hours a day as a person should devote to such work."
-- Ulysses S. Grant
USGNHS_081009_425.JPG: A Boy Out of School:
As Grant's presidency drew to a close, many people, including Julia, encouraged him to run for an unprecedented third term. Grant, however, had had enough and informed the Republican Party (without advising Julia) that he would not consider renomination.
Released from public responsibilities, Grant prepared to realize a dream -- traveling abroad. He wrote a friend in January 1877, "We will not return however until the party becomes homesick which may be in six months, and may not be for two years." The adventure did not end until Julia, having had enough, insisted on returning home when Grant suggested visiting Australia.
"I was never as happy in my life as the day I left the White House. I felt like a boy getting out of school."
-- Ulysses S. Grant
USGNHS_081009_431.JPG: An Outgoing Nature:
Julia's sociable nature led to a wide circle of friends and acquaintances who always filled the Grant home. Her genuine fondness for people helped her master any insecurity she felt as Ulysses rose to fame. Julia's ability to thorough put people at ease was a testament to her diplomacy and a refreshing contrast to the social airs of eastern society. Her outgoing nature reflected her sincere interest in peoples' welfare and was demonstrated in her numerous acts of kindness and generosity.
Author John Russell Young, observing Julia during the world tour, commented, "Mrs. Grant has a nature that would see as much sunshine in Alaska as in Italy, and on whose temper rain or snow never makes an impression."
"[Mrs. Grant] was noted for her amiability, her cheerful disposition, and her extreme cordiality of manner... She visited any officers or soldiers who were sick [and] went to the cook and suggested delicacies for their comfort."
-- General Horace Porter
"Mrs. Grant's morning receptions [at the White House] are very popular, and deservedly so. This is... because she is thoroughly good-natured, and for the time, at least, makes other people feel the same."
-- Mary Clemmer Ames
USGNHS_081009_434.JPG: Trust and Betrayal:
One of Ulysses Grant's traits was his trust in friends and acquaintances. This became a weakness when individuals took advantage of him and abused that trust. Once convinced, however, that someone had betrayed him, Grant could, and did, hold a grudge.
Grant did not believe the charges against presidential secretary Orville Babcock concerning the Whiskey Ring Scandal, and willingly risked her reputation to shield Babcock from conviction. Conversely, Grant never forgave political mentor Elihu Washburne for switching his allegiance from Grant to himself as the 1880 Republican candidate for president. Finally, when business partner Ferdinand Ward financially ruined Grant's family in 1884, Grant's long-held belief in the trustworthiness of others was shattered.
"I have made it the rule of my life to trust a man long after other people gave him up; but I don't see how I can ever trust any human being again."
-- Ulysses S. Grant
Wikipedia Description: Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site is a 9.65 acre United States National Historic Site located 10 miles (16 km) southwest of Downtown St. Louis, Missouri within the municipality of Grantwood Village. The site, also known as White Haven, commemorates the life, military career, and Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant. Five historic structures are preserved at the site including the childhood home of Julia Dent Grant, wife of Ulysses S. Grant; the couple lived in the home from 1854 to 1859.
Ironically, White Haven was a plantation worked by slaves at the time Grant was married to his wife in 1848 and remained so until the end of the American Civil War.
The site jurisdiction is the Superintendent of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
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