"Mumbett" (manuscript draft), by Catharine Maria Sedgwick, 1853
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- Witness to America's Past
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This is a draft manuscript of Catharine Maria Sedgwick's article, "Mumbett", the life story of Elizabeth Freeman.
The manuscript was published under the title "Slavery in New England," in Bentley's Miscellany in 1853. According to Sedgwick’s account, Freeman was born into enslavement, but after hearing a reading of the Declaration of Independence, sued for her freedom from Col. John Ashley. With the help of Theodore Sedgwick, she eventually won the lawsuit, and her freedom in August 1781, setting the legal precedent for the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts. Freeman was a paid servant for the Sedgwick family for more than two decades, eventually saving enough money to buy her own home in Stockbridge where she worked as a midwife and a healer.