Sample Letters from Ulysses S. Grant to Julia Dent Grant

Read through a sampling of letters Ulysses S. Grant wrote to his fiancée and later wife, Julia Dent Grant. Grant wrote these letters to Julia while stationed with the Army in Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico from 1844 to 1848. After reading the samples, answer the discussion questions.

Aug 31, 1844: “You say Julia that you often dream of me! Do tell me some of your good ones; don’t tell me any more of the bad ones . . . to think that while I am writing this [letter] the ring I used to wear is on your hand—parting with that ring Julia was the strongest evidence I could have given you of the depth and sincerity of my love for you.” The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, Volume 1: 1837-1861 ed. John Y. Simon (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1967), 35-36.

July 11, 1845: “You know how awkwardly I made known to you the first time of my love. It is a scene that I often think of, and with how much pleasure did I hear that my offer was not entirely unacceptable? In going away now I feel as if I have someone else than myself to live and strive to do well for. You can have but little idea of the influence you have over me, Julia, even while so far away. If I feel tempted to do anything that I think is not right I am sure to think, ‘Well now if Julia saw me would I do so,’ and thus it is absent or present I am more or less governed by what I think is your will.” The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, Volume 1, 50-51.

January 2, 1846: “I have just returned from a tour of one month through Texas, and on my return I find but one single letter from my Dear Julia and that one but a few lines in length. You don’t know how disappointed I felt, for in my two or three last letters, which remained unanswered yet, I said something that I was somewhat impatient to receive an answer to.” The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, Volume 1, 66-67.

May 11, 1846: “Now that the war has commenced with such vengeance I am in hopes my Dear Julia that we will soon be able to end it. In the thickest of it I thought of Julia. How much I should love to see you now to tell you all that happened.” The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, Volume 1, 86.

February 4, 1848: “I received a few days ago your long sweet letter enclosing one from my father. By the same mail I got another from home [asking] my fate if I was dead, or if alive my whereabout. By the same mail I also got one from my sister Clara announcing that they had at last, after waiting six months, received a letter from me.” The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, Volume 1, 150-151.

“Dearest Julia” Letter Discussion Guide

After reading through the sample letters for this lesson, complete the discussion questions below.

  1. How do you communicate with your family today? What sorts of things do you like to talk about with your family when communicating with them?

  2. What sorts of things does Ulysses S. Grant discuss with Julia Dent Grant in the above letters? How might these letters be different from the letters he’d send to fellow Army officers during the time?

  3. If you had to write a letter to someone today, who would you write to and what would you want to discuss?

  4. Why do you think letter-writing was so important to people who lived in the 1800s?
These sample letters and discussion guide are part of the Ulysses S. Grant’s Life and Legacy: Teaching with Museum Collections Lesson Plan.

Last updated: July 6, 2022