|About the Book|
Elizabeth Freeman was a slave for the first forty-odd years of her life, until, in 1781, with the help of Theodore Sedgwick, an attorney in Sheffield, Mass., she went to court and won her freedom. Inspired to take action after hearing her owner,MoreElizabeth Freeman was a slave for the first forty-odd years of her life, until, in 1781, with the help of Theodore Sedgwick, an attorney in Sheffield, Mass., she went to court and won her freedom. Inspired to take action after hearing her owner, Colonel John Ashley, and his guests discussing the ideals of freedom and equality embodied in Revolutionary War era documents such as the Sheffield Resolves, the Declaration of Independence, and the Massachusetts Constitution, Freeman took a courageous step toward ending slavery in Massachusetts.This inspirational story of the woman also known as Mumbet is recounted in One Minute a Free Woman: Elizabeth Freeman and the Struggle for Freedom, a new biography by Emilie Piper and David Levinson.After winning her freedom, Freeman, who was not only a servant but a skilled nurse and midwife, went to work for the Sedgwick family and was employed by them until about 1808. (She was held in such esteem that she is buried in the clans cemetery plot in Stockbridge, Mass.) After leaving the Sedgwick household, Freeman, who was a mother and a grandmother, purchased her own home, a remarkable accomplishment for a woman and an African American at the time. She lived to be about eighty-five years old, dying in 1829.Piper and Levinson put Freemans life in the context of the times, sharing the accounts of early settlements in the Housatonic River valley, the work of local patriots leading up to the American Revolution, the history of Stockbridge, the saga of the Sedgwick family, and the significant contributions of other African Americans who lived in the area.They even chronicle the Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail, created in 2006, which includes six sites associated with Freemans life, including the Ashley House museum in Sheffield.