Mary Elizabeth Bowser Essay

Mary Elizabeth Bowser Essay

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"Slave power crushes freedom of speech and of opinion. Slave power degrades labor. Slave power is arrogant, is jealous and intrusive, is cruel, is despotic, not only over the slave but over the community, the state." This quote comes from Elizabeth Van Lew, whose father owned slaves before the civil war. Elizabeth was an abolitionist and didn’t believe in her fathers ways. One of the slaves on the Van Lew plantation, Mary Elizabeth Bowser went on to be much more than just a slave.
Mary Elizabeth Bowser was born in 1839 on the Van Lew plantation, in Richmond, Virginia. Mary Elizabeth was born into slavery, and was forced to work as soon as she could. When Mary was very young, there was a big slave selling from the Van Lew plantation, her family members were traded away to other masters so no one knows for sure who her mom and dad really were. From around the age of three Mary was forced to work on the plantation, in the fields or even doing laundry.(Mary Elizabeth Bowser) John Van Lew believed that if the slaves wanted to get to have a place to sleep and food to eat then they should be required to work at the earliest age possible. Most of the slaves couldn’t start really working till around age three, so the plantation had a slave or two that would watch the “under age” kids that couldn’t work yet. Therefore the “under age” slaves moms could work and not be held back by their children.
John Van Lew, a wealthy merchant and the owner of the slave plantation that Mary Elizabeth Bowser was born and raised on, believed strongly on having slaves work the plantation so he didn’t have too. John’s wife, Elizabeth Baker Van Lew was not a complete abolitionist but she did not strongly believe in being cruel to the slaves on the plantat...


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.... 2011. OSU Department of History. 18 April 2011.
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Mary Elizabeth Bowser. 23 October 2008. New World Encyclopedia. 18 April 2011.
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Mary Elizabeth Bowser. 2011. Lakewood Public Library. 8 April 201
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Mary Elizabeth Bowser, Cunning and Dedicated. 2011. African American Registry. 18 April 2011.
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Mary Elizabeth Bowser: Prominent Union Spy. 19 March 2009. Associated Content. 19 April 2011.
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