From Atlas Obscura by Hadley Meares:
“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. “