Mum Bett and Abolition in Massachusetts


“anytime 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 earth a free woman— I would.”

Mum Bett stood on the fringes of the small crowd in the town square of Sheffield, Massachusetts; wrapped in a shawl against the autumn chill. She had come to hear the reading of the new law. A courier had arrived from Boston with printed copies for all those who could read – Mum Bett couldn’t, so she came to listen.

A tall young man climbed up onto a wagon so he could be seen and heard.

“This here is the new Constitution of the Free Commonwealth of Massachusetts! Draw near and listen!”

“Article One!”

“All men are born free and equal, and have certain…

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