Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Thirty Years a Slave

I ran across an interesting slave narrative recently and thought I'd share it today. Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, And Four Years in the White House was written by Elizabeth Keckley.  She was best known as the personal seamstress and confidante of First Lady Mary Todd LincolnKeckley was born a slave in 1818, but purchased her freedom in 1860 and then moved to Washington. She created an independent business in the capital, and her clients included the wives of the government elite.

According to Biography.com:
Keckley not only became Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker, she was also the first lady's personal dresser and closest companion. She was a White House habitué during the pivotal years of the Abraham Lincoln presidency; the two ladies travelled together, with Keckley present for the Gettysburg address, and they raised money together for the Civil War effort.
Keckley son's died in the war in August 1861, but her mourning was cut short to comfort Mrs. Lincoln, who lost her own son to typhoid the following February. Keckley was also there to provide support following the president's assassination and Mrs. Lincoln's transition out of the White House.
Keckley decided to write her memoir in part to salvage the former first lady's reputation after the war. However, the publication of Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years as a Slave and Four Years in the White House in 1868 had the opposite effect; feeling betrayed by the revelations in the book, Mrs. Lincoln cut off contact with the woman she once called her closest friend.
Were you at all familiar with Elizabeth Keckley? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

1 comment:

Maria McKenzie said...

That's good to hear, William:) I pretty sure the majority of Americans aren't familiar with her story.