Elizabeth Freeman


Elizabeth Freeman, also known as Bet or MumBet, was the first enslaved African American to file and win a freedom suit in Massachusetts.

Freedom suits were lawsuits in the Thirteen Colonies and the United States filed by enslaved people against slaveholders to assert claims to freedom, often based on descent from a free maternal ancestor, or time held as a resident in a free state or territory.

Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States.

African Americans are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the black racial groups of Africa.

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The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling, in Freeman's favor, found slavery to be inconsistent with the 1780 Massachusetts State Constitution.

The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is the fundamental governing document of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one of the 50 individual state governments that make up the United States of America.

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Her suit, Brom and Bett v. Ashley, was cited in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court appellate review of Quock Walker's freedom suit.

Quock Walker, also known as Kwaku or Quok Walker, was an American slave who sued for and won his freedom in June 1781 in a case citing language in the new Massachusetts Constitution that declared all men to be born free and equal.


When the court upheld Walker's freedom under the state's constitution, the ruling was considered to have implicitly ended slavery in Massachusetts.


Any time, any time while I was a slave, if one minute's freedom had been offered to me, and I had been told I must die at the end of that minute, I would have taken it—just to stand one minute on God's airth [sic] a free woman— I would.

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