Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Slaves: Deception and Guile-The Necessary Survival Tools

An article in the Civil War Interactive site discusses the espionage of Mary Elizabeth Bowser, the black nanny of Jefferson Davis's children. When Davis realized that a mole existed in his household, he never suspected her. She put on the front of an illiterate slave.

I am currently reading State of Jones, by Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer. In a revealing section about Rachel, the lover of Newton Knight, the hero of the book, the authors discuss her necessary tools for survival. She conveyed an outward image of submission to her masters. Behind the scenes, she aided the Unionist guerrilas in Jones County, Mississippi. She helped to feed, arm and provide them with information. Like Bowser, she used the preconceived image that white people had to her advantage.

Fortunately for the Union, these two women and others played their parts very well.
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1 comment:

  1. I think a similar post would be appropriate towards women and their roles as well, not just slaves or slave women. Very similar traits, whether disguising themselves as men or working as spies.

    Good thoughts!