Southern Lady, Yankee Spy
The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A Union Agent in the Heart of the ConfederacyBook - 2003
Varon describes a woman who was very much a product of her time and place, yet continually took controversial stands--from her early efforts to free her family's slaves, to her daring wartime activities and beyond. Varon's powerful biography brings Van Lew to life, showing how she used the stereotypes of the day to confound Confederate authorities (who suspected her, but could not believe a proper Southern lady could be a spy), even as she brought together Union sympathizers at all levels of society, from slaves to slaveholders. After the war, a grateful President Ulysses S. Grant named her postmaster of Richmond--a remarkable break with custom for this politically influential post. But her Unionism, Republican politics, and outspoken support of racial justice earned her a lifetime of scorn in the former Confederate capital.
Even today, Elizabeth Van Lew remains a controversial figure in her beloved Richmond, remembered as the "Crazy Bet" of Lost Cause propaganda. Elizabeth Varon's account rescues her from both derision and oblivion, depicting an intelligent, resourceful, highly principled woman who remained, as she saw it, true to her country to the end.
From Library Staff
CRRLAdults Dec 08, 2015
Elizabeth Van Lew was a Union spy living in Richmond, Virginia, during the Civil War. In her book, Varon describes the life and accomplishments of this intriguing figure.
Elizabeth Van Lew was a Union spy living in Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War. In this book, Varon describes the life and accomplishments of this intriguing figure.
CRRL_KaraRockwell May 21, 2014
Northern sympathizer in the Confederate capital, daring spymaster, postwar politician: Elizabeth Van Lew was one of the most remarkable figures in American history, a woman who defied the conventions of the nineteenth-century South....Under the nose of the Confederate government, Van Lew ran a sp... Read More »