Friday, March 29, 2013

"Civil War Voices"-- Part 6: Elizabeth Keckley

Of all the interesting characters portrayed in the play, she was the most poignant,  Talk about a person who overcame all odds and rose to a position of insidership in the highest levels of government.  That would be Elizabeth Keckley, a person I had never heard of before, but should have.

And, the casting had picked a person who could ably play her, Theresa George.  She was by far the most striking character.  And, what a voice!!

Wikipedia has a really long article on her which is well worth reading.  The play followed her life in the most detail.

A short synopsis:

ELIZABETH KECKLEY (1818-1907)  Wrote "Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House" (1868).  Born a slave in Virginia.  Her father was Amistead Burwell who was also her master and a colonel in the War of 1812.

Her owners moved her to St. Louis, where she became a seamstress and with the help of white patrons, she was able to buy her freedom and that of her son for $1200 in 1855,

She moved to Washington, DC, to set up a seamstress business and sewed dresses for Mrs. Jefferson Davis and Mrs. Robert E. Lee, before starting to work for Mary Todd Lincoln, a job she continued throughout the Civil War,  She became a confidante of Mrs. Lincoln and sewed her dresses.

In 1862, she founded the Contraband Relief Association.  Contraband was what slaves were called at the time who rad run away from their masters to be protected by the Union Army.

A Fascinating Life, Well Worth a Read.  --Old Secesh

No comments: