Mum Bet’s Freedom

Mum Bet watercolor on ivory by Susan Anne Livingston 

The class of American Studies this term has been discussing the freedom of slaves in Connecticut in response to the Boston Tea Party in the year of 1774. This is a time period of change. Slavery started to become less tolerated because slaves were suing for their freedom. This is when our class started researching Elizabeth Freeman, better known as Mum Bet. Our class started discussing Elizabeth Freeman and how she was able to fight for freedom. Some students specifically chose Suffield slaves, but I wanted to start off by trying to fully understand Elizabeth’s story and why she was able to do this. Elizabeth and her slave partner Brom were the first African American people to be freed in Massachusetts in 1780. This means that during 1774, Elizabeth was still a slave, but instead, overhearing the Ashley’s arguments about freedom. She then decided, that she should receive freedom as well. A local man who believed slave’s should be freed believed in Mum Bet, and decided to fight for her which is what inspired her to be free.  Moving forward, I would like to find the first free slave in Connecticut and how they fought for their freedom. I then started researching Connecticut slavery. It looked like slaves stopped becoming free in 1774, which is peculiar. I came across this paragraph on Slave North, which I found interesting.

“The largest increase came in the period 1749-1774. By the latter year, New London County had become the greatest slaveholding section of New England, with almost twice as many slaves as the most populous slave county in Massachusetts. New London was both an industrial center and the site of large slave-worked farms; with 2,036 slaves, it accounted for almost one-third of all the blacks in Connecticut. New London town itself, with 522 blacks and a white population of 5,366, led the state in number of slaves and                             percentage of black inhabitants.” 2

Further researching, I realized that the slave got $300 in modern day, which is not a lot. The slaves solely focused on fighting for freedom, and 1774 is when the change began, all because of Mum Bet.


  1. This source shows great information about the importance of Mum Bet.

2. This source discusses slavery in Connecticut. These two sources are how I connected Mum Bet with slavery In Connecticut.

3 thoughts on “Mum Bet’s Freedom

  1. katherinekalill

    Your information on Mum Bet and the flow of slavery is very interesting. Your work is very factual and to the point so it was easy to read and understand. I am personally very interested in Mum Bet because she is an early activist for the rights of not only slaves, but women. Obviously throughout American history it has been proven more difficult for women to hold basic rights, but Mum Bet, as a female minority, proves strength in the early history of American women through her fight for freedom. Aside from her, I was particularly intrigued by your conversation about wages for slaves, I was unaware that slaves received money at all. Did you find anything more out about this? 300 dollars is obviously not a lot today, but back then it was so I wonder more about the money slaves did receive?


  2. pingvira

    1) I like how Riley have a solid goal in her topic. This shows that she will know what she are you doing for example first she learn about Mun Bet then she will find the who was the first slave in the free and how did he or she free his or herself.
    2) The question that I have is how did Mum Bet free herself and what is the process that Mum Bet went through in order the receive her freedom.
    3) To polish this essay I think Riley might have to add what skill require for this project and skill that she needs to develop.


  3. Nadezda

    Hi, Riley!
I found your blogpost very interesting, useful and related to the main topic. You provided enough background information for a stranger to understand where we are going with this.
    The only question I have (probably because I am not fully familiar with the topic), how did Mum Bet got her freedom? Did she write a letter to a mayor or organized a rebellion?
    Thinking from another person’s perspective (outside of the classroom) I would explain our goal and who we are a little more.
    Thank you!



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