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From slavery to the White House

By Dr. Thomas Cloer, Jr.

Special to The Courier

Elizabeth Keckley was a talented and intelligent slave who became a successful dressmaker and managed to buy her freedom. Because of her adroit skills in clothing design, she amazingly became a close friend of the families of Jefferson Davis and Abraham in Washington, D.C. President Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, became a very close    friend and confidant of Elizabeth.

Elizabeth lived longer as a slave than as a free dressmaker for Mrs. Lincoln. She later wrote a tell-all book about her unusual life. The book included private details about the Lincoln family and provoked great controversy and broke several traditional boundaries. Individuals felt deeply offended when a black former slave felt free to publish intimate, personal details concerning the lives of upper-class white people. The Civil War was about freeing people like Elizabeth Keckley, and involved, in the most critical way, both Jefferson Davis’ and Abraham

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