I know what liberty is because I know what slavery was.”
A true Renaissance woman, who despite the Civil War milieu, became one of the most extraordinary success stories of that era.
Elizabeth Keckly, born enslaved in Virginia, supported herself as a seamstress and dressmaker, and amassed $1200 to purchase her freedom. Moving to Washington, DC in 1860, Keckly soon developed an elite clientele among the women of the nation’s capital. Her dressmaking skills brought her to the attention of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, and she became the First Lady’s favorite dressmaker and later her confidante, and personal and traveling companion.