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Elizabeth Freeman

Elizabeth Freeman Miniature portrait, watercolor on ivory
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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 1781, 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, which reads, "all men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and inalienable rights." The necklace that Freeman wears in this portrait was later repurposed into a double-strand bracelet after Freeman’s death.

Provenance: Gift of William Minot, 1884.