Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House

Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House

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by Elizabeth Keckley
     
 

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Behind the Scenes is the life story of Elizabeth Keckley, a shrewd entrepreneur who, while enslaved, raised enough money to purchase freedom for herself and her son. Keckley moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked as a seamstress and dressmaker for the wives of influential politicians. She eventually became a close confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln.

Overview

Behind the Scenes is the life story of Elizabeth Keckley, a shrewd entrepreneur who, while enslaved, raised enough money to purchase freedom for herself and her son. Keckley moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked as a seamstress and dressmaker for the wives of influential politicians. She eventually became a close confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln. Several years after President Lincoln's assassination, when Mrs. Lincoln's financial situation had worsened, Keckley helped organize an auction of the former first lady's dresses, eliciting strong criticism from members of the Washington elite. Behind the Scenes is, therefore, both a slave narrative and Keckley's attempt to defend the motives behind the auction. However, the book's publication prompted an even greater public outcry, with the added racial subtext of white society's disdain for Keckley's audacity in publishing details of the Lincolns' private lives. Keckley's dressmaking business failed, the Lincoln family cut all ties with her, and she lived out her final days in a home for the indigent. Scholars have acknowledged the book's valuable account of slave life as well as its intimate view into the Lincoln White House. Biographers of the Lincolns have quoted extensively from Keckley's text.

A DOCSOUTH BOOK. This collaboration between UNC Press and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library brings classic works back into print. DocSouth Books editions are selected from the digital library of Documenting the American South and are unaltered from the original publication. The DocSouth series uses digital technology to offer e-books and print-on-demand publications, providing affordable and accessible editions to a new generation of scholars, students, and general readers.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807869635
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
09/01/2011
Edition description:
1
Pages:
164
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Keckley was born into slavery in Virginia, moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where she earned enough money to free herself and her son, and then moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked as a seamstress and dressmaker for prominent Washington women, including Mary Todd Lincoln. Sadly, she spent her final years in the Home for Destitute Women and Children, which she had helped to establish.

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Behind the scenes, or, Thirty years a slave and four years in the White House 4.1 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 18 reviews.
Elizabeth Marin More than 1 year ago
I have to disagree with the previous commentor in regards to this book being ego driven. There is hardly anything glamorous about being a former slave who had to work her way out of poverty. Her story is inspiring. In regards to her relationship with the Lincolns, we have to remember that this is Ms. Keckley's point of view in how she interpreted the situations that occurred during that time. In my opinion, this book is an interesting read from start to finish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For anyone interested in the issues of slavery or the Lincoln Presidency this is a fascinating look at the life of Elizabeth Keckley who must have been a brave and competent woman of her day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a really good book and i would recommend it to people. The story is about Elizabeth Keckley's life as a slave, a seamstress, and a friend of Mrs. Lincoln.
Gretchen1 More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be extremely compelling and well-written. When you think that the author was a former slave who rose up from a horrific childhood to becoming a successful businesswoman, it's great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fascinating reading about the Lincolns from this very interesting woman. I am so glad I picked out this book as my only souvenir from the Lincoln library in Springfield. Now I have the Nook edition.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book gave the reader and inside look at Mrs Lincoln and things that went on in her everyday life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great read, I love history and this is a first count hand given by a person that was there. Granted this is from her point of view, but still just incredible insight to a period of history that is long gone. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is the ending just drops off. Otherwise like I said a wonderful insightful book. It cost her, Mrs. Keckley her friendship with Mrs. Lincoln....But wonderful
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
juliettehendrikx More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most remarkable memoirs I have read. Keckley speaks frankly about having been beaten as a slave, being forced to take a white slave owner as a lover, baring his child, and then traveling to Washington to set up a dress shop. It was there she met the Lincolns. Her time spent with them was the most interesting part of this tale so I wont spoiler the eye openers. The memoir was completely engrossing. A remarkable book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wow!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book talked about Mrs. Lincoln and not much about the history of the writer. The letters contained in the book got boring and repeated themselves.
EmilyCharlotte More than 1 year ago
All she wrote about were her excellent moral choices, how she loved Lincoln, and very disparaging remarks about the first lady.