TwHP Lessons

Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent Grant at White Haven Farm: The Missouri Compromise in American Life

Composite images both from the Library of Congress
(Library of Congress)

n Missouri, in the 1840s, an anti-slavery soldier from Ohio fell in love with the daughter of a slave-owning gentleman farmer.

The soldier was a future American president, Ulysses S. Grant, and the woman was Julia Dent of White Haven. They married, and the couple spent most of Grant’s pre-war civilian years living on the Dent family’s estate: 850-acre farm that was home to Julia’s large family and up to 30 enslaved African Americans. Slaves at White Haven worked in the fields and orchards, cared for livestock and horses, cooked in the family kitchens, and served the Dent family, including Grant.

White Haven illustrates a complex chapter in the life of the man who signed the 15th Amendment into law and presided over Radical Reconstruction in the South after the Civil War. Grant was the last American president to own a slave. It was during this chapter of Grant’s life that he benefitted from the slave society he later worked to destroy, first as a soldier and then as a politician.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
  1. Map 1: State Secessions, 1860-1861.
  2. Map 2: White Haven Farm, 1850s.

Determining the Facts: Readings

  1. Reading 1: Ulysses & Julia.
  2. Reading 2: Slavery at White Haven.
  3. Reading 3: Multiple Perspectives of Slavery at White Haven.

Visual Evidence: Images
  1. Photo 1: 19th Century Photo of White Haven Main House.
  2. Photo 2: Exterior of the Kitchen and Laundry.
  3. Photo 3: Interior of the Kitchen and Laundry.
  4. Photo 4: White Haven Winter Kitchen Interior.
  5. Photo 5: Artifacts from the Summer and Winter Kitchens.

Putting It All Together: Activities
  1. Consider the Evidence, Evaluate the Perspectives.
  2. Experiences of Americans' Enslavement.
  3. Modern Compromise.
  4. Minority Rights and Justice in Grant's era and in yours.

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Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site

This lesson is based on the historic White Haven (Grant-Dent Farm), a resource of the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service. It is among the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.



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