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Freed her family’s slaves

Operated a spy ring which gathered intelligence

Obstructed the war efforts of the South

Helped Union soldiers escape from Richmond prisons

Was named postmaster of Richmond by President Ulysses S. Grant


Elizabeth Van Lew is her name and she led “the most productive espionage operation of the Civil War,” right in the heart of the Confederacy! She was suspected of being a spy but no one believed that a genteel southern lady could actually be part of such scandalous activities. Some thought her to be crazy. But the reality is, Elizabeth knew not only how to “work the system” but use it to advance racial justice.

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