Can Mary Ellen Pleasant be compared to Harriet Tubman?

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Well, no. What Tubman did was un-matchable and deserves all the credit and attention, possible.

However, MEP -and both her spouses- spent many months and years working on the UGRR. They did transport many ex-slave fugitives to Canada and even bought property up there for  immigrant purposes. They helped  fugitives in California too. Mary Ellen and JJ Pleasant deserve recognition for this work- as I hope other stories of the UGRR are uncovered. I hope they can both be included in future stories of the UGRR along with others yet to surface.

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Was Mary Ellen Pleasant a Madame?

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The answer is ,”No”. She always had a full time job, but she did help others get started in business. One fully documented example of that was the Dennis and Downs Livery stable, which she was acknowledged as financing.

She (and her husband, JJ) were known to set people up in business, and possible did finance a Madame or two in the early days, but there is no proof, only gossip, about that. All gossip after the 1880’s was tainted by the trashing MEP took in the press over supporting Allie Hill against WilliamSharon.

That was After JJ Pleasant died. Who knows how he would have reacted to the beating she took in the press? While he was alive, they did everything together. All the court cases are in BOTH their names. Good research in SF property records will reveal she (and her husband, JJ) banked a few houses, too.

She may have become an easy target after JJ died. Holdredge and therefore, history, ignores JJ completely, but it is clear and documented that they were partners until he died.