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Forging FreedomBlack Women and the Pursuit of Liberty in Antebellum Charleston$
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Amrita Chakrabarti Myers

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807835050

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807869093_myers

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THE Currency OF Citizenship

THE Currency OF Citizenship

Property Ownership and Black Female Freedom

(p.113) Chapter 4 THE Currency OF Citizenship
Forging Freedom

Amrita Chakrabarti Myers

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the lawsuit Eliza Seymour Lee initiated against fellow Charlestonian Henry Gourdin. A respected businesswoman, Eliza and her husband, John, had owned the city's two most illustrious hotels for decades, lodgings that catered to prominent whites from across the nation and around the world. By the 1850s, Eliza was a wealthy widow with ties to Charleston's white elites, and she oversaw her business affairs with the help of Henry Gourdin, whom she hired to help manage her finances. A prominent attorney, Henry appeared happy to take Eliza on as a client. Their relationship soured, however, when Eliza discovered certain irregularities with her portfolio. Confronting Henry and getting nowhere, and determined to protect her property rights, Eliza sued him for fraud and embezzlement.

Keywords:   Eliza Seymour Lee, Charlestonian, Henry Gourdin, respected businesswoman, wealthy widow, white elites

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