Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule
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From New York Times Bestselling Author Jennifer Chiaverini, the first novel to chronicle the singular relationship between Julia Grant, beloved First Lady, and the courageous woman who was her slave and namesake.
In 1844, shy Missouri belle Julia Dent met Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant, brilliant horseman and reluctant soldier. The two fell deeply in love, but Grant’s abolitionist family refused to attend their wedding. For despite her husband's objections, Julia kept as her slave another Julia, known as Jule.
Since childhood they had been companions and confidantes. Julia was gifted with prophetic dreams, which Jule helped her interpret; Julia secretly taught Jule to read, while Jule became her vision-impaired mistress’s eyes to the world. But as Grant rose through the ranks of the Union army during the Civil War, the stark distinctions between mistress and slave strained their unlikely friendship. Both women risked certain danger as they traveled to and from General Grant’s military headquarters—until the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation inspired Jule to make a daring bid for freedom.
still strikingly handsome at sixty-two. When little Nellie was not quite a year old, Julia helped Ulys select the perfect place for a home of their own on her sixty acres, a sunny clearing in a grove of young oaks near Gravois Creek. The neighbors came to the house-raising, bringing delicious covered dishes to pass and putting their servants to work on constructing four ample rooms around a central hall. The walls were strong and straight and the roof as tight as a drum, but the cabin remained
bed. “Should I tell her tomorrow, to give her time to get used to the idea and say good-bye to her friends, or should I wait until the day of her departure, so she has less time to worry?” “An interesting question.” Ulys sat down beside her on the edge of the bed, took her hand, and regarded her curiously. “How would you feel in her place?” For a moment Julia could only stare back at him, bewildered. “How would I feel in her place?” “Yes, Julia. How would you feel?” “I don’t know.” She found
tolerance of the occupiers or their wives. “No one who sees and hears the women of this city can but feel the intensity of their hate,” General Sherman told her one afternoon when she and Ulys rode out to see him at his army’s camp at Big Black. “With one breath they beg for the soldiers’ rations, and with the next they pray that the Almighty or Joe Johnston will come and kill us, the despoilers of their homes and all that is sacred.” As the weeks went by, while the children played or rode out
can.” But there was little Ulys could do. John was a civilian, not a soldier, so he was not eligible for the usual prisoner exchanges, nor did Ulys seem willing to take extraordinary measures to secure his release. “I sympathize with John in his sufferings, and with your family and all who love him,” Ulys wrote in response to her pleas. “But Julia, do you really think it would be just to give a rebel prisoner of war in exchange for your brother, when so many brave, deserving soldiers who fought
in the War Department, as a reporter for the New York Evening Express, and as a brigadier general’s aide in Mississippi and Louisiana. Nearly a year before, Badeau had been severely wounded in the Siege of Port Hudson, and he had been sent to his home in New York City to convalesce. There, he confided to Julia as they strolled through the muddy streets as she returned her calls, he had been tended and entertained back to health by two friends—the famous actor Edwin Booth and his somewhat less