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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.