How First Ladies on Opposing Sides of the Civil War Forged an Unlikely Bond | Atlas Obscura

They were both former first ladies. But the similarities between Julia Grant and Varina Davis didn’t end there. The two elderly widows were both born in 1826 to slave-owning Southern families. Both had keen intellects and literary aspirations, and spoke in soft, low voices. They had spent their lives following and supporting their high-ranking husbands, subsuming their identities in the expected fashion throughout their marriages.

Now that their respective husbands had died, each widow was experiencing a personal renaissance. But their unexpected meeting in 1893 sent shock waves through Gilded Age America. For Varina and Julia had publicly–and iconically–represented opposite sides of the recent and raw American Civil War.

As the wife of former Mississippi senator Jefferson Davis, Varina Davis had the dubious distinction of being the one and only first lady of the doomed Confederate States of America, during the four years of the American Civil War. Julia Grant spent that same…

Source: How First Ladies on Opposing Sides of the Civil War Forged an Unlikely Bond | Atlas Obscura

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