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.
- This source shows great information about the importance of Mum Bet. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2p39.html
2. This source discusses slavery in Connecticut. These two sources are how I connected Mum Bet with slavery In Connecticut.