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Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly: The Remarkable Story of the Friendship Between a First Lady and a Former Slave

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Fleischner, Jennifer(2003)
Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly: The Remarkable Story of the Friendship Between a First Lady and a Former Slave

In early 1861, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Keckly, a seamstress and free woman of color, walked into a hotel parlor in Washington, D.C. and met someone who would have an extraordinary effect on her life – Mary Todd Lincoln. Keckley became the First Lady’s dressmaker, but soon assumed other roles – nurse, mediator and confidante, to name a few. Lizzy was an emotional balm for the spendthrift, irascible Mary, whose tragedy-prone life only accelerated the mood swings. In the darkest hours, following the sudden death of her young son and the assassination of the President, the devoted Lizzy was there. Author Fleischner uses alternating chapters to parallel the two women’s very different early lives. This scholarly recreation of the behind-the-scenes Lincoln years reveals a wonderful, unsung heroine – Elizabeth Keckly.

Reviewed by Susanne W., South County Regional

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