Washington Wife: Journal of Ellen Maury Slayden from 1897-1919

Washington Wife: Journal of Ellen Maury Slayden from 1897-1919

Washington Wife: Journal of Ellen Maury Slayden from 1897-1919

Washington Wife: Journal of Ellen Maury Slayden from 1897-1919

Excerpt

In Mission Burial Park in San Antonio two mark the last resting place of James Luther Slayden and his wife, Ellen Maury, the author of this book. The rough-hewn granite boulders contrast sharply with the polished marbles and slick granites of this fashionable resort of the forgotten dead. Since Ellen Maury outlived her husband by two years, it is a reasonable assumption that she determined what would be appropriate at this place. Two boulders, one large and one small, symbolize the towering height of the husband and the petite figure of his wife. They also reflect the relation between them, as far as the woman could determine it. Throughout her life she wanted J., as she called him, to be in the lead. Consciously she played the highly feminine and secondary role as the wife of Congressman Slayden, though her gifts were such that she must at times have found it difficult to keep out of the lead.

Ellen Maury was born at Piedmont, the ancestral home in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1860. Piedmont, near the campus of the University of Virginia and now a part of the campus, was headquarters of the Maurys, one of America's famous families. The public is conscious of the contributions made by the Maury men to history and geography. Thomas Jefferson records in his memoirs that he was prepared to enter William and Mary College by the Rev. James Maury. Matthew Fontaine Maury's name is a byword, "pathfinder of the sea." But the public is perhaps not informed about the Maury women; surrounded by the culture and the youth of the University of Virginia, they were great record keepers and diarists, and among these Ellen is probably the most talented and a ssiduous of the lot. She relates in her foreword how she formed the habit of keeping notebooks, and it was this habit that served her well when she went to Washington.

Ellen Maury married James Luther Slayden on June 12, 1883. He was born in Mayfield, Kentucky, June 1, 1853. After his father's death in 1869, he moved with his mother to New Orleans. He was educated in the public schools, and attended Washington and Lee University at Lexington, Virginia. In 1876 he moved to San Antonio, Texas, to become a cotton . . .

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