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date: 23 October 2020

Van Lew, Elizabeth L.locked

(17 October 1818–25 September 1900)
  • Jean V. Berlin


Van Lew, Elizabeth L. (17 October 1818–25 September 1900), Unionist and Federal spy, was born in Richmond, Virginia, the daughter of John Van Lew, a New York–born hardware merchant, and Elizabeth Baker, the daughter of a former mayor of Philadelphia. Van Lew’s father had made a fortune in his successful hardware business, and the family moved in the highest circles of Richmond society. The Van Lews retained northern connections and sent Elizabeth to Philadelphia to be educated. When she returned to the South, she was a fervent abolitionist and convinced her mother to free the family slaves in the 1850s after her father’s death....

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