‘Civil War Wives’ topic of Crawford County round table on April 9

The Crawford County Civil War Roundtable will present “Civil War Wives: Angelina Grimke Weld, Varina Howell Davis, and Julia Dent Grant” by Mary Spicer at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, at the First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall on Liberty St., Meadville

Three women, three wives: Weld (wife of Thomas Weld), Davis (wife of Jefferson Davis), and Grant (wife of Ulysses S. Grant) … were all married to three prominent men. All three were privileged daughters of southern slaveholders and ultimately broke free of restrictions placed on their gender of the times to pursue their beliefs.

Angelina Grimke was an abolitionist and women’s rights advocate. She and her sister gave fiery speeches, wrote essays and spoke to the Massachusetts State Legislature on women’s rights, anti-slavery issues and racism. She married abolitionist Theodore Weld but continued clearing the path for later women’s movement pioneers such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

Varina Howell was a teenager when she married Jefferson Davis. She became an outspoken observer while her husband served as congressman and secretary of war and ultimately she became the first lady of the Confederacy. Well educated, she kept up with the politics of the time and supported the southern troops in any way she could. When the war was over, came the defeat and imprisonment of her husband. Varina worked tirelessly to have him released. After his death she shocked the southern world by moving to New York City and writing for Joseph Pulitzer’s newspaper.

Julia Dent abandoned her pampered plantation life to wed Captain Ulysses S. Grant. She struggled with him through both civilian life and then as he rose to become a commander in the Civil War, and finally serving two terms as President of the United States. Julia adored and supported Grant in everything he did, ultimately ending in poverty until Grant wrote and published his memoirs, thus providing some income. Julia became the first First Lady to write a memoir, though it wasn’t published until 75 years after her death.