In 1781, Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman became the first African American woman to win her freedom from slavery through a court of law. The case was held in Massachusetts, which coincidentally, became the first state in the Union to abolish slavery. Mum Bett’s case was instrumental in forcing the Commonwealth to carry out its own constitution.
Mum Bett was born about 1744 in New York. She and her younger sister, Lizzie, were sold to Colonel John Ashley.
One day, Annetje Hogeboom, the wife of John Ashley, raised a heated shovel to strike Lizzie, and instead, hit Mum Bett, who was protecting her with her arm. The hit left a bad wound that Mum Bett refused to cover, to give proof to conditions on the plantation. As a result, Mum Bett hired a lawyer, Theodore Sedgwick, to gain her freedom. A male slave named Brom was added to give light to the case during a time when women’s rights were unheard. The Brom and Bett vs. Ashley trial took place in August 1781 at the County Court of Common Pleas in Great Barrington. Both slaves won their freedom and Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman agreed to work for the Sedgwicks’ indefinitely.
Mum Bett Freeman would become known as a popular healer, midwife and a nurse. Her story was shared by author, Catherine Sedgwick, Theodore’s wife, and passed down through generations. Mum Bett and her daughter Betsy retired in Stockbridge until her death in 1829. She was buried in the Sedgwick family plot.
Ironically, Theodore Sedgwick is the 4th great grandfather of actress Kyra Sedgwick, star of the television show, “The Closer” which aired on the TNT newtork. The connection was found via the PBS show “Finding Our Roots,” with Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and is now retold in his latest presentation “The African Americans” now airing on PBS.
There is currently an effort underway to immortalize the legacy of Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman on a U.S. Postal Stamp.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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