Ellen Craft (1826 – 1891)
The freedom afforded various historical badasses by men’s clothing becomes even more literal for Ellen Craft, a fugitive slave who escaped the United States with her husband, William Craft, by dressing as a white man and posing as her husband’s master. In an incredibly risky move out of an as-yet-unmade multi-Oscar-worthy epic, the Crafts planned an escape to Canada, cutting Ellen’s hair short and booking separate passage on a train and steamboat to get them out of the country. In order to avoid having to sign her false name on any travel documents, Ellen, who could not write, put her arm in a sling. Upon arriving a free woman in Canada, Craft (along with her husband) became a passionate advocate for the abolition of slavery, attending public lectures with her husband about their escape and eventually co-authoring a book: Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom; Or, The Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery. After many years spent in England raising a family, Ellen returned to the US a free woman, and, with her husband, founded a school for other freedmen.