A Place Called Home

Ulysses S. Grant is known as the victorious Civil War general who saved the Union and the 18th President of the United States. He first met Julia Dent, his future wife, at her family home, named White Haven. From 1854 to 1859 the Dents, Grants and an enslaved African-American workforce lived on the property.

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Transcript

- Hi, welcome to Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site. My name is David Newmann, I'm one of the Park Rangers here with the National Park Service. And today I'll be your tour guide on our trip through President Grant's historic estate, White Haven. White Haven, which stands behind me today, was built between 1812 and 1816, making it one of the oldest known homes in St. Louis County today. But our story as it relates to Ulysses S. Grant, really begins in 1843. When the young Lieutenant graduated from West Point and made his way to St. Louis where he was stationed at the nearby Jefferson barracks. When he arrived in St. Louis, Grant was quickly invited out to the childhood home of his West Point roommate, Frederick Dent. When Grant arrived here on the property he not only met the Dent family for the first time, but he was also introduced to his future wife, Julia Dent Grant. Shortly after meeting here on the estate, Ulysses and Julia began a courtship which would last nearly four months, and conclude with a secret engagement to be married. This engagement, however, would prove to be a long one. As Grant was away fighting in the Mexican American war for nearly four years. In 1848 however, Grant returned to St. Louis and married Julia here in her hometown. For the next several years, Grant spent quite a bit of time traveling with the military, but by 1854 had grown tired of life separated from his loved ones. In that same year, he resigned his commission and moved back to White Haven to live here on the farm full time. For the next five and a half years Ulysses Grant lived in St. Louis with his family, primarily here at White Haven with his in-laws. During this time, Grant worked a number of odd jobs from collecting rent to selling firewood and even working as a farm hand right here on the estate. A job, which by the way, positioned Grant side by side with upwards of 20 enslaved African Americans owned by his father-in-law. Grant's exposure to slavery at White Haven, undoubtedly affected his viewpoints on slavery and civil rights moving forward into his generalship and his work as 18th president of the United States. When the civil war broke out in 1861, Ulysses Grant was living in Northern Illinois, but was quick to volunteer his services to the union army. Within a month, Grant was promoted from Colonel to Brigadier General, and over the next three and a half years, Grant won more than a dozen major battles for the union army. Eventually becoming the top commander in the US military. As such, Grant was a famous man. And with this fame came all kinds of attention that Grant really didn't care for. Ultimately, Grant wanted to come back to Missouri and be a farmer again. He thought he might even raise horses. And in the years following the civil war, Grant not only purchased this estate from his father-in-law, but throughout his presidency, began upgrading the property in many ways that visitors will still see today. For instance, if you take the tour here at White Haven, one room you may notice is a small kitchen off the back of the house. This was designed by Grant in 1868. Additionally, Grant designed a large horse stable for the property, which now houses our park museum. On top of that in 1874, Ulysses and Julia pick out the color that we see on the outside of the house today. It's a color known as Paris Green, which believe it or not, was very popular at the time. Now, the Grants make all of these changes thinking that they're going to come home and retire here. But after eight long years in the White House, their children had all grown up and moved away. Three of his children ended up in New York and New Jersey. And when his daughter moved to England, he and Julia reconsidered their plans to move back to St. Louis and instead moved to New York City where they retire. Despite this, Grant and Julia do continue returning to the estate and actually visit here six documented times as President and First Lady. Our hope for visitors today, is that you get a little sense of what it might've been like to be Ulysses or his family returning to this place they called home, after so many years of being away. We hope you've enjoyed today's tour through President Grant's historic estate, White Haven. And if you'd like to learn more, I highly encourage you to visit us online at nps.gov/ULSG. There you'll find essays and stories and even articles about the people who lived here at White Haven. Again, thank you so much for watching and have a great day.

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Duration:
5 minutes, 40 seconds

Join Ranger David for a short video tour of Ulysses S. Grant's home, White Haven.

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Stories

Learn about Ulysses S. Grant's life as a farmer at White Haven and explore other important historical moments that have shaped his legacy.

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Education

We offer a range of educational opportunities for schools, including field trips, virtual presentations, and curriculum materials.

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Things to Do

Plan your visit ahead of time and learn about the activities offered at Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site.

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Ulysses S. Grant in St. Louis 1854-1860

U.S. Grant lived in St. Louis from 1854 until 1859. Explore this digital exhibit to learn about these formative years before the Civil War.

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Slavery at White Haven

Grant lived at White Haven in the late 1850s. Watch this short film to learn about slavery on the estate.

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Multimedia Galleries

Watch park produced videos including virtual tours, educational videos and interviews.

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Father Dickson Cemetery

Two miles north of Ulysses S. Grant NHS is Father Dickson Cemetery, a historically Black cemetery where more than 6,000 people are buried.

Last updated: September 5, 2021

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Mailing Address:

7400 Grant Road
St. Louis, MO 63123

Phone:

(314) 842-1867

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