Freeman, Elizabeth

(c. 1744—1829)

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(c. 1744; d. 28 December 1829), the first enslaved black woman to successfully sue for her freedom, in Massachusetts in 1781. “I heard that paper read yesterday that says, ‘all men are born equal, and that every man has a right to freedom.’ I am not a dumb critter; won't the law give me my freedom?” According to Catherine Sedgewick, Elizabeth Freeman said this to Theodore Sedgewick, a young Massachusetts lawyer who was Catherine's father.


From Black Women in America in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: United States History.

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