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Moments in Black History Elizabeth Freeman
Moments in Black History Elizabeth Freeman
Published: 2014/01/09
Channel: UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS AT PINE BLUFF
Digital Story - Elizabeth Freeman
Digital Story - Elizabeth Freeman
Published: 2015/12/01
Channel: Daniella Villalobos
Liberty
Liberty's Kids 139 - Born Free and Equal
Published: 2016/01/13
Channel: Liberty's Kids
Elizabeth Freeman
Elizabeth Freeman
Published: 2017/02/01
Channel: UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS AT PINE BLUFF
How Elizabeth Freeman Helped End Slavery in the North
How Elizabeth Freeman Helped End Slavery in the North
Published: 2015/08/08
Channel: The American Storyteller
Afro-inspirations/ Harriet Tubman, Soujourner Truth, Elizabeth Freeman
Afro-inspirations/ Harriet Tubman, Soujourner Truth, Elizabeth Freeman
Published: 2016/12/04
Channel: Asso Blackisreallybeautiful
Mumbet - Story of Elizabeth Freeman
Mumbet - Story of Elizabeth Freeman
Published: 2010/02/22
Channel: LitchfieldBZ
Morgan Freeman on Elizabeth Banks
Morgan Freeman on Elizabeth Banks' "Ask A Badass"
Published: 2014/02/12
Channel: WhoHaha
Aeolian Elizabeth Freeman - część 2
Aeolian Elizabeth Freeman - część 2
Published: 2015/01/08
Channel: Intensywnie Kreatywna
Elizabeth Freeman (1742-1829) / La femme courage qui porta plainte contre son maitre
Elizabeth Freeman (1742-1829) / La femme courage qui porta plainte contre son maitre
Published: 2016/05/13
Channel: Asso Blackisreallybeautiful
The Annual Queer Theory Lecture "Sacramental Criticism"
The Annual Queer Theory Lecture "Sacramental Criticism"
Published: 2013/03/11
Channel: DukeWomenStudies
Sarah Murdoch and Elizabeth Freeman-Shaw: 2016 Governor General
Sarah Murdoch and Elizabeth Freeman-Shaw: 2016 Governor General's History Awards
Published: 2017/01/25
Channel: Canada's History
Mumbet The Life and Times of Elizabeth Freeman  The True Story of a Slave Who Won Her Freedom Avisso
Mumbet The Life and Times of Elizabeth Freeman The True Story of a Slave Who Won Her Freedom Avisso
Published: 2016/10/22
Channel: varuni
Step Up Interview with Dr. Elizabeth Freeman
Step Up Interview with Dr. Elizabeth Freeman
Published: 2013/11/25
Channel: Kandace McDavid
NSE Elizabeth Freeman Video Interview  1
NSE Elizabeth Freeman Video Interview 1
Published: 2013/05/15
Channel: Ellie Freeman
Mum Bet
Mum Bet
Published: 2017/02/07
Channel: Dorothy Saraceno
Mum Bett
Mum Bett's Journey
Published: 2016/01/13
Channel: hannahpetree
People hold signs in support of the Elizabeth Freeman Center & raise awareness about Sexual Assault
People hold signs in support of the Elizabeth Freeman Center & raise awareness about Sexual Assault
Published: 2015/04/02
Channel: BerkshireEagle
Elizabeth Freeman  "I Know That Voice" Contest Entry
Elizabeth Freeman "I Know That Voice" Contest Entry
Published: 2013/08/01
Channel: missbunniswan
Aeolian Elizabeth Freeman - część 3
Aeolian Elizabeth Freeman - część 3
Published: 2015/01/15
Channel: Intensywnie Kreatywna
Aeolian Elizabeth Freeman - część 4
Aeolian Elizabeth Freeman - część 4
Published: 2015/01/28
Channel: Intensywnie Kreatywna
Set Me Free (ft. Elizabeth Freeman) - Nightcore
Set Me Free (ft. Elizabeth Freeman) - Nightcore
Published: 2015/11/06
Channel: NightcoreV
Aeolian Elizabeth Freeman - część 1
Aeolian Elizabeth Freeman - część 1
Published: 2015/01/07
Channel: Intensywnie Kreatywna
Functional Rehabilitation Group - Physical Therapy Testimonial: Dr. Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman
Functional Rehabilitation Group - Physical Therapy Testimonial: Dr. Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman
Published: 2017/05/01
Channel: Functional Rehab Group
Aeolian Elizabeth Freeman - część 5
Aeolian Elizabeth Freeman - część 5
Published: 2015/02/01
Channel: Intensywnie Kreatywna
Suger. And marissa jo Elizabeth freeman last
Suger. And marissa jo Elizabeth freeman last
Published: 2016/06/11
Channel: Bea Mogg
Mum Bett-Elizabeth Freeman
Mum Bett-Elizabeth Freeman
Published: 2017/03/01
Channel: L Portis
A Free Woman On Gods Earth The True Story of Elizabeth Mumbet Freeman The Slave Who Won Her Freedom
A Free Woman On Gods Earth The True Story of Elizabeth Mumbet Freeman The Slave Who Won Her Freedom
Published: 2016/10/04
Channel: hafi
Elizabeth Freeman: Animal and Sound FX Reel
Elizabeth Freeman: Animal and Sound FX Reel
Published: 2013/04/25
Channel: missbunniswan
Maine Headshot Behind the Scenes: Elizabeth Freeman
Maine Headshot Behind the Scenes: Elizabeth Freeman
Published: 2014/04/01
Channel: Maine Headshot
Elizabeth Freeman
Elizabeth Freeman
Published: 2017/07/19
Channel: Lil' Rebellion
Elizabeth Freeman Project 2013
Elizabeth Freeman Project 2013
Published: 2013/06/05
Channel: Alyssa Vititow
Elizabeth Freeman
Elizabeth Freeman
Published: 2016/03/18
Channel: Jalayne Freeman
Elizabeth Freeman - Entry to #Wearemchenrycountypubliclands.
Elizabeth Freeman - Entry to #Wearemchenrycountypubliclands.
Published: 2015/12/14
Channel: DiscoverMCCD
"Accident"   Elizabeth Freeman @ Doyle
"Accident" Elizabeth Freeman @ Doyle's Cafe Sept 8, 2013 massmouth,inc. storyslam season V
Published: 2013/09/11
Channel: massmouth2video
Elizabeth Freeman, Atty. Bruce Rivera, Maharlika - Reaksyon Sa Pambabastos Ni Jim Paredes
Elizabeth Freeman, Atty. Bruce Rivera, Maharlika - Reaksyon Sa Pambabastos Ni Jim Paredes
Published: 2017/05/02
Channel: Have Snuggles
TESTIMONIO ELIZABETH FREEMAN
TESTIMONIO ELIZABETH FREEMAN
Published: 2016/05/01
Channel: Iglesia Camino de Vida
The Fitlogic Fit - Elizabeth Freeman
The Fitlogic Fit - Elizabeth Freeman
Published: 2012/07/30
Channel: cricketfits
Elizabeth Freeman: Relection
Elizabeth Freeman: Relection
Published: 2016/09/03
Channel: SVAGA2015
Elizabeth Freeman R.I.P
Elizabeth Freeman R.I.P
Published: 2016/01/18
Channel: LUKE AMERO
Dedication to Elizabeth Freeman
Dedication to Elizabeth Freeman
Published: 2011/08/04
Channel: anthony dandridge
How to pronounce Elizabeth Freeman (American English/US)  - PronounceNames.com
How to pronounce Elizabeth Freeman (American English/US) - PronounceNames.com
Published: 2015/02/11
Channel: Pronounce Names
Elizabeth Freeman Center
Elizabeth Freeman Center
Published: 2015/06/23
Channel: Great Barrington - Business is Greater than Great!
Mumbet
Mumbet's Declaration
Published: 2016/03/09
Channel: Pachion Carlson
I Saw Elizabeth Freeman And Phillis Wheatley
I Saw Elizabeth Freeman And Phillis Wheatley
Published: 2017/01/27
Channel: Timothy Scholar
McKenna as Elizabeth Freeman
McKenna as Elizabeth Freeman
Published: 2017/03/06
Channel: CWC 5th Mrs Brown
Mum Bett
Mum Bett
Published: 2016/01/12
Channel: Dymond Brown
Mum Bett
Mum Bett
Published: 2016/01/12
Channel: Dymond Brown
Mum Bett (Elizabeth Freeman)
Mum Bett (Elizabeth Freeman)
Published: 2016/03/04
Channel: YoungElementary
Elizabeth Vaughn
Elizabeth Vaughn's Senior Recital with Dr. Kennith Freeman
Published: 2015/11/07
Channel: Elizabeth Vaughn
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WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE

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Elizabeth Freeman
(a.k.a. Mumbet)
Miniature portrait, watercolor on ivory by Susan Anne Livingston Ridley Sedgwick, 1811
Elizabeth Freeman, aged ca 67
Born c.1744
Claverack, Province of New York
Died December 28, 1829(1829-12-28) (aged 85)
Stockbridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
Nationality American
Other names Bett, Mumbet, Mum Bett,
Occupation Midwife, herbalist, servant
Known for Brom and Bett v. Ashley (1781), gained freedom based on constitutional right to liberty

Elizabeth Freeman (c.1744—December 28, 1829), also known as Bet or MumBet, was the first black slave to file and win a freedom suit in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling, in Freeman's favor, found slavery to be inconsistent with the 1780 Massachusetts State Constitution. Her suit, Brom and Bett v. Ashley (1781), was cited in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court appellate review of Quock Walker's freedom suit. When the court upheld Walker's freedom under the state's constitution, the ruling was considered to have implicitly ended slavery in Massachusetts.

Any time, any time while I was a slave, if one minute's freedom had been offered to me, and I had been told I must die at the end of that minute, I would have taken it—just to stand one minute on God's airth [sic] a free woman— I would.

— Elizabeth Freeman[1]

Biography and trial[edit]

Freeman was illiterate and left no written records of her life. Her early history has been pieced together from the writings of contemporaries to whom she told her story or who heard it indirectly, as well as from historical records.[2][3]

Freeman was born into slavery around 1744 at the farm of Pieter Hogeboom in Claverack, New York, where she was given the name Bet. When Hogeboom's daughter Hannah married John Ashley of Sheffield, Massachusetts, Hogeboom gave Bet, around seven years old, to Hannah and her husband. Freeman remained with them until 1781, during which time she had a child, Little Bet. She is said to have married, though no marriage record has been located. Her husband (name unknown) is said to have never returned from service in the American Revolutionary War.[4]

Throughout her life, Bet exhibited a strong spirit and sense of self. She came into conflict with Hannah Ashley, who was raised in the strict Dutch culture of the New York colony. In 1780, Bet prevented Hannah from striking a servant girl with a heated shovel; Elizabeth shielded the girl and received a deep wound in her arm. As the wound healed, Bet left it uncovered as evidence of her harsh treatment.[1] Catharine Maria Sedgwick quotes Elizabeth saying, "Madam never again laid her hand on Lizzy [sic]. 'I had a bad arm all winter, but Madam had the worst of it. I never covered the wound, and when people said to me, before Madam, "Betty, what ails your arm?" I only answered - 'ask missis!' Which was the slave and which was the real misses?"[1]

John Ashley was a Yale-educated lawyer, wealthy landowner, businessman and leader in the community. His house was the site of many political discussions and the probable location of the signing of the Sheffield Resolves, which predated the Declaration of Independence.

In 1780, Freeman heard the newly ratified Massachusetts Constitution read at a public gathering in Sheffield, including the following:[1]

All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

Inspired by these words, Bett sought the counsel of Theodore Sedgwick, a young abolition-minded lawyer, to help her sue for freedom in court. According to Catherine Sedgwick's account, she told him, "I heard that paper read yesterday, that says, all men are created equal, and that every man has a right to freedom. I'm not a dumb critter; won't the law give me my freedom?"[1] After much deliberation Sedgwick accepted her case, as well as that of Brom, another of Ashley's slaves. He enlisted the aid of Tapping Reeve, the founder of Litchfield Law School, one of America's earliest law schools, located in Litchfield, Connecticut. They were two of the top lawyers in Massachusetts, and Sedgwick later served as US Senator. Arthur Zilversmit suggests the attorneys may have selected these plaintiffs to test the status of slavery under the new state constitution.[5]

The case of Brom and Bett v. Ashley was heard in August 1781 before the County Court of Common Pleas in Great Barrington.[6] Sedgwick and Reeve asserted that the constitutional provision that "all men are born free and equal" effectively abolished slavery in the state. When the jury ruled in Bett's favor, she became the first African-American woman to be set free under the Massachusetts state constitution.

The jury found that "...Brom & Bett are not, nor were they at the time of the purchase of the original writ the legal Negro of the said John Ashley..."[7] The court assessed damages of thirty shillings and awarded both plaintiffs compensation for their labor. Ashley initially appealed the decision, but a month later dropped his appeal, apparently having decided the court's ruling on constitutionality of slavery was "final and binding."[5]

After the ruling, Bett took the name Elizabeth Freeman. Although Ashley asked her to return to his house and work for wages, she chose to work in attorney Sedgwick's household. She worked for his family until 1808 as senior servant and governess to the Sedgwick children, who called her "Mumbet." The Sedgwick children included Catharine Sedgwick, who became a well-known author and wrote an account of her governess's life. Also working at the Sedgwick household during much of this time was Agrippa Hull, a free black man who had served with rebel forces for years during the Revolutionary War.[8]

From the time Freeman gained her freedom, she became widely recognized and in demand for her skills as a healer, midwife and nurse. After the Sedgwick children were grown, Freeman and her daughter bought and moved into their own house in Stockbridge.

Death[edit]

Freeman's real age was never known, but an estimate on her tombstone puts her age at about 85. She died in December 1829 and was buried in the Sedgwick family plot in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Freeman remains the only non-Sedgwick buried in the Sedgwick plot. They provided a tombstone, inscribed as follows:

ELIZABETH FREEMAN, also known by the name of MUMBET died Dec. 28th 1829. Her supposed age was 85 Years. She was born a slave and remained a slave for nearly thirty years; She could neither read nor write, yet in her own sphere she had no superior or equal. She neither wasted time nor property. She never violated a trust, nor failed to perform a duty. In every situation of domestic trial, she was the most efficient helper and the tenderest friend. Good mother, farewell.[2]

Legacy[edit]

The decision in the case of Elizabeth Freeman was cited as precedent when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard the appeal of Quock Walker v. Jennison later that year and upheld Walker's freedom. These cases set the legal precedents that ended slavery in Massachusetts. Vermont had already abolished it explicitly in its constitution.[2][3][5][9]

Connection to W.E.B. Du Bois[edit]

Civil Rights leader and historian W. E. B. Du Bois claimed Freeman as his relative and wrote that she married his maternal great-grandfather, "Jack" Burghardt.[10][11] But, Freeman was 20 years senior to Burghardt, and no record of such a marriage has been found. It may have been Freeman's daughter, Betsy Humphrey, who married Burghardt after her first husband, Jonah Humphrey, left the area "around 1811", and after Burghardt's first wife died (c. 1810). If so, Freeman would have been Du Bois's step-great-great-grandmother. Anecdotal evidence supports Humphrey's marrying Burghardt; a close relationship of some form is likely.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Sedgwick, Catharine Maria (1853). "Slavery in New England". Bentley's Miscellany. London. 34: 417–424. 
  2. ^ a b c d Piper, Emilie; Levinson, David (2010). One Minute a Free Woman: Elizabeth Freeman and the Struggle for Freedom. Salisbury, CT: Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Are. ISBN 978-0-9845492-0-7. 
  3. ^ a b Rose, Ben Z. (2009). Mother of Freedom: Mum Bett and the Roots of Abolition. Waverly, Massachusetts: Treeline Press. ISBN 978-0-9789123-1-4. 
  4. ^ Wilds, Mary (1999). Mumbet: The Life and Times of Elizabeth Freeman: The True Story of a Slave Who Won Her Freedom. Greensboro, North Carolina: Avisson Press Inc. ISBN 1-888105-40-2. 
  5. ^ a b c Zilversmit, Arthur (October 1968). "Quok Walker, Mumbet, and the Abolition of Slavery in Massachusetts". The William and Mary Quarterly. Third. Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. 25 (44): 614–624. JSTOR 1916801. 
  6. ^ "Massachusetts Constitution, Judicial Review, and Slavery – The Mum Bett Case". mass.gov. 2011. Retrieved July 4, 2011. 
  7. ^ Transcript of Case No. 1, Brom & Bett vs. John Ashley Esq., Book 4A, p 55 Inferior Court of Common Pleas, Berkshire County, Great Barrington, MA, 1781, transcribed by Brady Barrows at Berkshire County Courthouse, 1998.
  8. ^ Gary B. Nash, "Agrippa Hull" revolutionary patriot", Black Past, 2008, accessed 12 March 2012
  9. ^ "Africans in America/Part 2/Elizabeth Freeman (Mum Bett)". pbs.org. Retrieved July 7, 2010. 
  10. ^ Du Bois, W. E. (1984). Dusk of Dawn. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers. p. 11.  Originally published 1940.
  11. ^ Levering, David (1993). W. E. Du Bois, Biography of a Race 1868–1919. New York City: Henry Holt and Co. p. 14. 

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