- LINCOLN AND MRS. KECKLY: The Remarkable Story of the Friendship Between a First Lady and a Former Slave Jennifer Fleischner, Author. Broadway $26 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7679-0258-8.
- Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly is a remarkable work of scholarship that explores the legacy of slavery and sheds new light on the Lincoln White House. Mrs Lincoln s Sisters Jennifer Chiaverini — 2020-06-02 in Fiction.
- Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly, pioneering historian Jennifer Fleischner allows us to glimpse the intimate dynamics of this unusual friendship for the first time, and traces the pivotal events that enabled these two women one born to be a mistress, the other to be a slave to forge such an unlikely bond at a time when relations between blacks.
Free download or read online Mrs. Lincolns Dressmaker pdf (ePUB) book. The first edition of the novel was published in January 5th 2013, and was written by Jennifer Chiaverini. The book was published in multiple languages including English, consists of 368 pages and is available in Hardcover format. The main characters of this historical, historical fiction story are Mary Todd Lincoln. Get Firefox, a free web browser backed by Mozilla, a non-profit dedicated to internet health and privacy. Available now on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS.
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While noodling on the internet one day, I came across an article about Mary Lincoln’s personal dressmaker, Elizabeth Keckley. A former slave from Maryland who’d bought her own freedom, Keckley was a master mantua-maker who got herself the coveted position of dressmaker to the president’s wife. There was a little link at the bottom of the article about Keckley’s memoir, and it was too enticing to pass up.
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Happily, even though it was published in 1868, my library had a copy of it! The reprinted book was beautiful, complete with all the original print type and etchings. But the story inside was what really intrigued me.
While Keckley recounts her horrific experiences as a Maryland slave and her tooth-and-nail fight to buy her own freedom (which honestly should be made into a movie. Seriously, where are the screenwriters?) her memoir spends most of its pages on her four years as Mary Lincoln’s dressmaker. In this capacity, she was allowed very private access to the Lincolns, and she recounted some of the family’s most intimate moments. She was a huge fan of Abe, and he seemed (at least by Keckley’s testament) to see her as more of a sister or cousin than an employee.
But her relationship with Mary was definitely….different. Particularly after Lincoln’s assassination, Elizabeth and Mary’s relationship really goes off the rails. From the very beginning of Keckley’s tenure with the White House, Mary was as difficult and flighty and petulant as every account of her is, but she and Keckley did confide in each other, and Mary told Elizabeth on several occasions that she counted her as her only true friend. The whole point of Keckley writing the memoir was to try and refute the bad press about Mary that scandalized the country between 1865 and 1867. It’s obvious that in Keckley’s mind, they really were friends. And to Mary’s credit, as a woman raised in a slave-holding family, her personal views on abolishing slavery were pretty radical for her time. I do believe the women saw each other as equals.
But if we’re talking about real friendship, the kind where you can rely on one another, and the give-and-take of the relationship is mutual, Mary did NOT get it. The amount of times Mary blows up Elizabeth’s world for some terribly cockamamie plan is pretty eye-opening. The one that really got me wondering about the true state of their friendship was after Mary was forced to leave the White House. She talks Elizabeth into living with her for almost a year at some hotel in Illinois. Mind you, Keckley owned her own seamstress shop in D.C. where she took orders from many prominent political women. She’s basically forced to lay off her staff and put her business on hold for Mary. Eight months later, when Elizabeth was basically like, “I kinda have to go back to work, cause you, know, finances,” Mary guilt trips her something fierce and then blows up her life about two years later about a wacky scheme to sell off her clothing collection in New York City. This is after Keckley gets her church AND freaking Frederick Douglas to raise a bunch of money to help Mary’s finances after Lincoln’s death (P.S. Mary turns the money down for stupid reasons).
The New York scheme is a serious bust, that puts Elizabeth out of work (again) for four months, and the scheme not only perpetuated, but heightened Mary’s bad press. Keckley felt so badly for her friend that she decided to write and publish her memoir to show ‘the other side’ of Mary Lincoln. It….was not taken as intended by the public, and the two became seriously estranged. The memoir left me with more questions than answers, so I sought more information.
Cue Mrs. Lincoln & Mrs. Keckly by Jennifer Fleischner. This biography was a serious deep dive into not just Mary and Elizabeth’s friendship, but the state of the U.S. and Lincoln’s presidency during the Civil War. If you’re looking for an all around good book on the Civil War that’s not battles and white men, I would highly recommend this biography.
The focus is obviously on Mary and Elizabeth, and Fleischner really explains the parts of their friendship that maybe Keckley couldn’t see because she was in it. Let’s be honest, Mary used her, but it’s clear in the biography that that probably wasn’t Mary’s intent, it was just who she was. Mary was a very intelligent woman who was squashed by her society, and probably had a bunch of mental health issues that were chocked up to hysteria and ‘being a woman’ in the mid-nineteenth century. Elizabeth was also an intelligent and talented woman squashed by her society, so maybe they felt they had that in common. And being a freed slave navigating a precarious position between white and black worlds that were on literal political fire for basically her entire life couldn’t have been easy, and Mary’s position gave Elizabeth a place to feel safe and valued.
In the end, Elizabeth and Mary may not have been ‘friendship goals,’ but at least Elizabeth’s story was written and saved. She’d have been another silenced voice of history if not for her relationship with the psycho Mrs. President, and for that alone, I’m grateful.
5 stars for both the memoir and the biography.
Bingo Square: Friendship
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or when she returns to Edenton after the war. She also effectively details Louisa's struggle to earn her living by doing something besides going into service, the fate of most black women, including her mother, in a racist and sexist society. Overall, Yellin triumphs in recovering the person behind the best-known woman's slave narrative in American literature. Finally, Yellin argues that Jacobs's fight to have what white people considered theirs by right,'a home in freedom for herself and her people' in accord with 'values accepted as mainstream,' made Harriet Jacobs a 'revolutionary' in her time (261). Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly: The Remarkable Story of the Friendship Between a First Lady and a Former Slave. By Jennifer Fleischner. New York: Broadway Books, 2003. 372 pp. $26.00. Harriet Tubman: The Life and the Life Stories. By Jean M. Humez. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003. 471 pp. $45.00. Reviewed by Lynn Domina, State University of New York, Delhi The two books reviewed here consider the lives of three unusual nineteenth-century women, although only one of them, Elizabeth Keckly, author of Behind the Scenes: or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House, can be considered a
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Legacy – University of Nebraska Press