Mary Ellen Pleasant (died January 4, 1904) was a 19th Century female entrepreneur of partial African descent who used her fortune to further abolition. She worked on the Underground Railroad across many states and then helped bring it to California during the Gold Rush Era. She was a friend and financial supporter of John Brown and well known in abolitionist circles. After the Civil War she took her battles to the courts in the 1860s, and won several civil rights victories, one of which was cited and upheld in the 1980’s and resulted in her being called, “The Mother of Human Rights in California”.
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