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Mary Ellen Pleasant (19 August 1814 – 4 January 1904) was a successful 19th-century American entrepreneur, financier, real estate magnate and abolitionist whose life is shrouded in mystery. She identified herself as "a capitalist by profession" in the 1890 United States Census. The press called her "Mammy" Pleasant but she did not approve, stating "I don't like to be called mammy by everybody. Put. that. down. I am not mammy to everybody in California." In her autobiography published in San Francisco's Pandex of the Press in January 1902, she stated her mother was a full blooded Louisiana negress and her father was a native Kanaka (Hawaiian), and when she was six years of age, she was sent to Nantucket to live with a Quaker woman named Hussey. 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 was 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 1980s and resulted in her being called "The Mother of Human Rights in California".
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