A picture of the civil war in southern lady yankee spy a book by elizabeth varon

However, it is unlikely that Van Lew actually did pretend to be crazy.

the secrets of mary bowser a novel

But the biggest challenge was the threat of violence faced by students and teachers alike. Indeed, that may have been their point. InGrant appointed her postmaster of Richmond, a position she held during his two terms, helping to modernize the city's postal system and employing a number of African Americans.

Supposedly nicknamed "Crazy Bet," she is said to have wandered Richmond in shabby clothes, muttering to herself or singing nonsense songs. The document claims that Van Lew's "colored girl Mary … had a photographic mind" and passed information directly to McNiven.

She was about twenty-six years old at the time. Grant named her postmaster of Richmond--a top notch smash with custom for this politically influential post.

Elizabeth R. Varon

The Brooklyn Eagle, a white newspaper, compared Richmonia R. Contemporary historians have uncovered support for the charges, but at the time Northern public opinion was inflamed, especially after reports that Dahlgren's corpse was handled disrespectfully.

The speaker is Mary Bowser. Varon, however, has argued that no evidence exists for this account of Van Lew's methods. Elizabeth Van Lew, American abolitionist who operated an anti-Confederate spy ring during the Civil War, offering shelter to escaped secret agents of the Federal Army in a secret room of her house in Richmond, Virginia.

There, she swept and dusted in the nooks and crannies of Davis home, reading the plans and documents that were laid out or hidden in desks, and reporting her findings to Van Lew. Prisoners were an important source of information, and Libby Prisonwhich housed hundreds of Union officers, often in desperate conditions, was located just six blocks from the Van Lew mansion.

Rowley—banded together to form an underground network, which eventually targeted the Confederate prison system in particular.

Mary Richards Bowser (fl. 1846–1867)

And I had some evidence that she was in the Richmond Underground. Bowser returned to live in Richmond during the war. So this is a fascinating story.

Appomattox : Victory, Defeat, and Freedom at the End of the Civil War

She was purportedly buried vertically, facing the north, and relatives of Union Colonel Paul J. Beymer to publish the first biography of Van Lew in Harper's Monthly. Elizabeth's father came to Richmond in at the age of 16 and, within twenty years, had built up a prosperous hardware business and owned several slaves.

She headed a vast interracial spy network, providing crucial intelligence to the Union. Newspaper accounts of each event provide brief and sometimes contradictory biographical sketches. After cleaning and cooking at several functions for the family of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, Bowser was hired as a full-time servant in the Confederate White House.

Some believe she worked as a domestic servant in the Confederate White House and spied on Jefferson Davis. These Bostonians gladly collected money for the woman who helped so many Union soldiers during the war.

In a letter dated June 1,she informed Eberhart that she had married, asking him to address her thereafter as Mary J. Instead, she immediately committed herself to finding ways to undermine Confederate war aims. Van Lew arranged for Bowser to be educated in the north and sent as a missionary to Liberia.


Nine years later, the story resurfaced with the publication of an historical novel called The Secrets of Mary Bowser.

She sponsored a library for African Americans that opened in Richmond in She aided prisoners in escape attempts, passing them information about safe houses and getting a Union sympathizer appointed to the prison staff.

After the war, a grateful President Ulysses S. Richards, she traveled to various locations in Virginia and Florida in the ensuing years, working as a teacher of newly freed blacks. The records that follow her life bear witness to the many names she used. But her Unionism, Republican politics, and outspoken assist of racial justice earned her a life-time of scorn in the former Confederate capital.

Elizabeth Varon and Dr. Believed to have been born between andRichards remained a servant for the Van Lew family after attaining her freedom. The true story of Mary Bowser, a former slave-turned-spy who delivered key intelligence secrets during the Civil War, now in paperback. Readers uncover secrets using codes hidden in the book and spycraft materials included.

Elizabeth Varon, Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, a Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy (New York: Oxford University Press, ) ISBN Mar 26,  · Varon talked about her biography Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, a Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy, published by Oxford University Press.

Both authors dispelled stereotypes and myths about Union sympathizers and discussed the complexity of their motivations. VARON, Elizabeth R. Southern lady, Yankee spy; the true story of Elizabeth Van Lew, a Union agent in the heart of the Confederacy.

Oxford. p. illus. notes. index. University of Virginia professor Elizabeth Varon talked about Elizabeth Van Lew, who operated a Union spy ring out of the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War.

Her remarks were part of the annual summer conference hosted by the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. Dr. Elizabeth Varon speaks to the Civil War Round Table of the District of Columbia on the topic of her new book: "Appomattox: Victory, Defeat and Freedom at the End of the Civil War." The presentation was made on January 13,at the Fort McNair Officers' Club in Washington D.C.

Questions and answers follow presentation.

A picture of the civil war in southern lady yankee spy a book by elizabeth varon
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Van Lew, Elizabeth L. (–)