Freeman, Elizabeth (Mum Bett, Mumbet)
Freeman, Elizabeth (Mum Bett, Mumbet)
December 28, 1829
As plaintiff in a law suit, Mum Bett, a slave, joined a black laborer named Bront in suing for their freedom in 1781. After winning that case, she adopted the name Elizabeth Freeman. The victory was a significant step in the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts, although the final decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that the new state constitution prohibited slavery came in another case.
Freeman was born a slave in New York State and in 1758 seems to have passed into the possession of John Ashley of Sheffield, Massachusetts, a judge in the Court of Common Pleas from 1761 to 1781. Freeman never learned to read or write, but she heard discussions of the Bill of Rights and the Massachusetts constitution, which was adopted in 1780. She considered that the language about all people being created free and equal might well apply to her.
In 1780 Mrs. Ashley became angry and struck at Freeman's sister with a heated shovel; Freeman was burned on the arm when she intervened. Leaving the house, she sued for her freedom in a case heard on August 21, 1781. She won. Her lawyer was Theodore Sedgwick, father of Theodore Sedgwick Jr., a noted abolitionist. Freeman became a servant in the Sedgwick family and followed them to Stockbridge in 1785. When Freeman retired, she had accumulated enough money to buy a small house. She mentions great-grandchildren in the will she signed with a cross on October 18, 1829. She was buried in the Sedgwick family plot in Stockbridge Cemetery.
Dermus, Betty. "Some of Us Are Brave." Essence 28, no. 10 (1998): 84.
Johns, Robert L. "Elizabeth Freeman, 'Mum Bett,' 'Mumbet.'" In Notable Black American Women, edited by Jessie Carney Smith. Detroit: Gale, 1992.
Logan, Rayford W. "Elizabeth [Mumbet, Mum Bett] Freeman." In Dictionary of American Negro Biography, edited by Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston. New York: Norton, 1982.
robert l. johns (2001)
"Freeman, Elizabeth (Mum Bett, Mumbet)." Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/freeman-elizabeth-mum-bett-mumbet
"Freeman, Elizabeth (Mum Bett, Mumbet)." Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. . Retrieved March 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/freeman-elizabeth-mum-bett-mumbet
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.