Read. Write. Go.

Elizabeth Freeman

Natasha Cribbs

Dr. Davis

United States History to 1876

4 March 2014

Elizabeth Freeman

            Slavery has always been a huge part of the history of the United States of America. Slavery is also something that did not go away on its own, but rather by the steady actions of people that led up the abolishment of it. One simple action by Elizabeth Freeman shows a step in the sometimes slow, but steady change during that time.

Life for slaves was never all that easy, including Elizabeth Freeman. After her birth around 1742, she was soon sold to a wealthy owner named John Ashley who had a wife named Hannah. Like most slaves, she was a slave for a large part of her life. It was often that African Americans would be slaves all of their lives. Freeman had a turn in her life, however.

So what was it exactly that was so amazing about what Elizabeth Freeman accomplished? What Freeman done can be seen in the quote, “When Ashley’s wife attacked her, Betts appealed to a local abolitionist, who brought her case to the courts. Betts was granted her freedom and 30 shillings in damages in 1781, with the case Brom and Betts v. Ashley,”(Mum Bett Biography).

For a slave to win the case and become a paid servant of the lawyer who had helped her was a huge feat. Slaves had very little rights, and due to the way that laws were back then– it did not seem that Ashley had done much of anything against the law. Even so, Freeman won. She won with the help of Theodore Sedgwick who was not only an attorney, but was also an abolitionist and a future U.S Senator.

What Freeman accomplished shows that the times were changing. It also shows some of the altering views between right and wrong. It was only a matter of time before more happenings against slavery commenced. What Elizabeth Freeman accomplished and how intense of a feat it was can been seen on her gravestone in the quote “She was born a slave and remained a slave for nearly thirty years. She could neither read nor write, yet in her own sphere she had no superior or equal,”(The Massachusetts Constitution).






Work Cited

“Mum Bett Biography.” A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.

“The Massachusetts Constitution, Judicial Review and Slavery.” Supreme Judicial Court. N.p.,     n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014.


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