[cryptome] Elizabeth Van Lew: American Unionist Spy in Civil War

  • From: doug <douglasrankine2001@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: cryptome@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 24 Nov 2015 22:14:41 +0000

see url:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Van_Lew

You know I like the old stuff of which the world was made in the past...when spying was proper spying and tradecraft was proper tradecraft and learned the hard way, not this gaming shit and watching too much stuff on the internet... :-). Huge armies of civil servants and private corporations making billions out of equipment and materiels, and universities getting huge funding for researching how to destroy the internet and world wide web as a way of doing commerce, exchanging goods, if not goodwill in the name of democracy and fighting terrorism and crime...:-).

I have just watched a fascinating history of Elizabeth Van Lew on "Yesterday", a television channel based in the UK. I have never heard of her, but I was so taken with it, that I thought I would pass some comments on to you. Her history is quite extraordinary and unique, and the television programme was an eye-opener in itself. As a Unionist spy living in the middle of Richmond, the centre of Confederacy during the American Civil War, she had to know all the tricks of the trade just to survive. She was a wealthy Quaker, who spent most of her money on buying the families of slaves and freeing them from their bondage, then employing them as free labourers on her estates. As well as being a Quaker, she was a devout abolitionist. The programme shows the tricks she used, from memory training given to her now free slaves, to setting up safe houses and secret routes to unionist areas, to smuggling escape kits into the prison where the captured unionist soldiers were contained. She set up primitive code books, disguised as confederate Bibles, and put maps into clothing, sheets and shoes which she took into the prison with keypicks and such like in the heels. A very dangerous life. She had to pretend to be very eccentric and become a master, or is it mistress... of acting and disguise, so that her confederate enemies wouldn't discover her goings on. As well as being very pious and religious, she pretended to be mad, muttering to herself and developed a twitch, so that it would throw her confederate friends off the scent, the politicians and generals and their secret police

In one rash moment, when the Unionists had won, but before they entered Richmond, she hoisted the Unionist flag...in an act of utter madness, which brought out confederate loyalists in a huge demonstration, who threatened to burn down her house. For some reason they didn't. Despite receiving a small gratuity and some recognition from the Unionist government, she lived the rest of her life in isolation and poverty, living off handouts from grateful ex-soldiers and the families of slaves whom she had helped. sThe remnants of the confederate establishment never forgave her, blaming her for the death of their sons who died in the war.

Just goes to show that not all spies do it for the money...or the power...she did what she felt, nay...knew was right and history has proved it so...Though we still have racism and slavery in the world and in the USA and other civilisations today. I have given the wikipedia url as an introduction, but I believe that someone has recently written a biography of her life...
Enjoy... :-).

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  • » [cryptome] Elizabeth Van Lew: American Unionist Spy in Civil War - doug