Elisabeth Samson (1715-1771) was a clever trades woman who managed to increase her assets to over a million in less than ten years.
A remarkable achievement at a time when women were supposed to take care of husband and children and leave the rest to the stronger sex. On top of this, she was black in a world where the white people considered themselves the rulers.
In 1764, she wanted to registered her resolve to marry a white man. The Surinam authorities refused. She appealed at the Dutch high court. After three years deliberation, the answer came: the law did not include any statements that could prevent two Christians from getting married and so consent could not be withheld.
The gentlemen added that the bright side of it all was that in due course of time Elisabeth’s assets “would be amongst the Whites, which is not bad: for having all too mighty Free Folk around is a fearful thing and giveth our slaves some Idea that They might Rise High, alike us.”
Unfortunately, the man whom she had wanted to marry had died by then. Elisabeth sought and found another and married him.
Based on years of research, Cynthia McLeod has written a wonderful novel about this fascinating woman.