Elizabeth Freeman ("Mumbet")
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- Witness to America's Past
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[ This description is from the project: MHS Collecting History ]
Elizabeth Freeman, familiarly known as "Mumbet," sued for her freedom from Colonel John Ashley of Sheffield, Massachusetts, in 1783, setting the legal precedent for the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts. She was represented by Theodore Sedgwick, who argued that Freeman should be freed under the Bill of Rights of the Massachusetts Constitution. It reads, "all men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and inalienable rights." Mumbet gave the necklace that she wears in this portrait to Theodore Sedgwick's daughter, the novelist Catherine Maria Sedgwick, who made them into a double strand bracelet.
Provenance: Gift of Maria Banyer Sedgwick, 1884.