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The First 6 African Americans Who Escaped Slavery and Became Millionaires

Hannah Elias

Hannah Elias (1863 -????)was once considered the richest Black woman in America. Many were shocked to learn she was African-American, as Black folks sitting on that amount of cash was just unheard of at the time. Elias wasn’t always wealthy, however. She was born in a poor neighborhood in Philadelphia to a Black mixed race couple with nine children. In 1905, Senator John R. Platt accused the “negro enchantress” of blackmailing him out of $685,385 and sued her for it. The two were in a secret relationship and it is said that Platt had given her large sums of money in the past. Elias was unafraid and hired her own lawyer to beat the case. She took the stand to plead her case before the court — and won. Not bad for a Black woman with little education. In all, her properties and goods were valued at approximately $1M.

 

 

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