Ellen Wrenshall “Nellie” Grant
The fourth White House wedding of a presidents' child
Nellie Grant and Algernon Charles Satoris
May 21, 1874
"Not so happily ever after"
It was perhaps the greatest American social event of the nineteenth century. Finally, a White House wedding was bursting forth in full glory. The walls and staircases and chandeliers were covered in a mass of lilies, tuberoses and spirea. Florida orange blossoms had been crated up and sent north.
The bride, Nellie Grant, was the eighteen-year-old daughter of an American icon, a war hero and the sitting president. One historian described her as “probably the most attractive of all the young women who have ever lived in the White House.” The groom, Algernon Sartoris, was a twenty-three year old member of the English “minor gentry.” They had met on a cruise across the Atlantic, courting in the moonlight and stealing “away to the darkened decks for kisses,” while Nellie’s chaperones lay moaning in their cabins with sea sickness. To the public it was an irresistible, romantic story. One newspaper carried a twelve page pictorial insert of the wedding, its presses running non-stop, unable to keep up with the insatiable public demand.
On May 21, 1874, “as the resplendent marine band played Mendelssohn’s Wedding March,” President Ulysses S. Grant escorted his daughter into the East Room. Nellie was radiant, wearing a white satin gown “trimmed in rare Brussels point lace” and reportedly worth thousands of dollars. The president “looked steadfastly at the floor” and wept. His new son-in-law would be taking Nellie to a life in England.
Read the whole story: http://www.amazon.com/All-Presidents-Children-Americas-Families/dp/074344633X