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Caesar Negro

Caesar Negro.

Caesar Negro was one of the former slaves that fought in the revolutionary war for Suffield. He was a part of the 4th regiment and fought for the term of 3 years. His owners last name is suggested to be Clark, because in the application for his pension it states “Negro or Clark” as the last name.

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Caesar Negro (Clark) Application for pension.

 

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Excerpt from “History of a Town” revolutionary war veterans.

The connection between Elizabeth Freeman and Theodore Sedgwick.

Mum Bett was born a slave in 1742, and worked  in Colonel John Ashley’s house in Sheffield, Massachusetts. Ashley was a local leader, a merchant and very prominent in his community. He was also married to Hannah Ashley. Mum Bet was born a slave and was owned by the Ashley residence for 40 years. One day, Hannah Ashley struck and hit Bet in the face with a burning shovel. This badly scarred her face. After the incident, she decided she was going to use her natural rights, that “all men are born free and equal,” and fight for her freedom.

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John Ashley’s House

She later became the first African American slave to be free in the state of Massachusetts. She then went to Stockbridge to Theodore Sedgwick’s household. Sedgwick was an attorney and a lawyer, and agreed to help Mum Bett in her freedom suit fight. How did Mum Bet know that Theodore Sedgwick would help her though? After research, the answer has been found. Theodore Sedgwick used to live in Sheffield Massachusetts and knew John Ashley. They were both very prominent and wealthy in the community. Actually, Sedgwick often visited the Ashley home along with a group of men who put together the Sheffield Resolves. The Sheffield resolves, in short

was a Colonial American petition against British tyranny and manifesto for individual rights, drawn up as a series of resolves approved by the Town of Sheffield, Massachusetts, on January 12, 1773 and printed in The Massachusetts Spy, Or, Thomas’s Boston Journal on February 18, 1773. It is said that the meeting took place in the Colonel John Ashley House” (Document 2).

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Drawing of Mum Bett

Sedgwick and Ashley sat together in the Ashley’s living room and agreed on a petition against their individual rights, yet Ashley still had multiple slaves working for his family. This is what most New England families stood for. They believed they should rebel against the British, and fight for their lives yet they were still enslaving other humans who should have also had those rights. Sedgwick believed in natural rights for African Americans, while Ashley did not. This may be because of his education and upbringing.

Sedgwick was born in West Hartford, Connecticut and was born into an immigrant ancestor family. He attended Yale College, where he studied law. Although he did not finish, he “read law” with Mark Hopkins. Mark Hopkins was an American educator and later went on to be the president of Williams College. Sedgwick was surrounded by liberal teachings. He understood the difficulty of being an immigrant because of his family. His relative, Robert Sedgwick actually came over on the “Truelove” boat in 1635. He studied at very liberal colleges and learned from liberal teachers, like Mark Hopkins.

Ashley, on the other hand, also attended Yale to study law but did not finish. Instead, he took a different path and settled for being a town merchant instead. He spent ten years in the military at first, and became very prominent in his town. He later became one of the town lawyers.

These two men had very different upbringings, making them different in many ways. This infers that is why they have different opinions about African American rights. Mum Bet was working during one of their meetings, and happened to overhear the part about natural rights. She knew Sedgwick and what he stood for, which is why she had the confidence to knock on his door that day.

After a successful court case and a mark in history, a friendship between Theodore and Mum Bett  bloomed. After Bett won her freedom she changed her name to Elizabeth Freeman and tried to start a new life. The problem was, trying to build a life as the only free African American women in Western Massachusetts became very challenging. In her words, trying to live in a racist world was close to impossible. Elizabeth decided to turn to Sedgwick for help again. Considering their wonderful friendship, Sedgwick hired Freeman to work for his family.

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Elizabeth Freeman’s Grave 

They built her a home on their property, so she could raise her daughter. Elizabeth worked for their family for the rest of her life. She died in Stockbridge December 28, 1829 and was buried in the Stockbridge cemetery. She actually was buried in the Sedgwick family’s part of the cemetery because they really did consider her one of their own.

 

 

 

 

Places:

“Colonel John Ashley House,” 2017.

http://www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/berkshires/ashley-house.html

 

Documents:

Sjc. “The Mum Bett Case.” Court System. N.p., 09 Dec. 2013. Web. 23 May 2017.<http://www.mass.gov/courts/court-info/sjc/edu-res-center/abolition/abolition-4-gen.html&gt;.

“Sheffield Declaration (1773).” Constitution Society: Everything Needed to Decide Constitutional Issues. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2017. <http://www.constitution.org/bcp/sheffield_declaration.html&gt;.

Cori Urban | Special to The Republican. “Favorite Place: Ashley House in Sheffield Tells Stories of Landowners, Slaves Who Lived There.” Masslive.com. Masslive.com, 17 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 May 2017. <http://www.masslive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2012/09/favorite_place_ashley_house_in.html&gt;.

Sedgwick, Dennis. SEDGWICK.ORG – Major General Robert Sedgwick (1613 – 1656). N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2017. <http://www.sedgwick.org/na/families/robert1613/sedgwick-robert1613.html>.

 

Book:

Rudolph, Frederick. Mark Hopkins and the Log: Williams College, 1836-1872. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1957. Print.

The Boston Committee of Correspondence

My English class and I are researching freedom and slavery in 1774 in our town of Suffield, Connecticut. We have been working hard to tell the “untold” history of 1774. For over two months all of the thirteen students in our class were going in different directions on behalf of the same question: What happened after the Boston Tea Party?

In order to understand our very specific question, we have to know a big picture, that is why I decided to go ahead and look for what led to the Boston tea Party.

I have been working with the New York Public Library for almost a month and with NYPL cooperation I was able to find a lot of information on the Boston Committee of Correspondence.

 

The Boston Committee of Correspondence was formed in 1772  on the verge on the American Revolution by Samuel Adams in response to the British government’s decision to pay the governors and making them and America fully dependent on the crown. Adams and other leaders wrote all the colonists’ rights and proposals and sent them to other Massachusetts’ towns in order to get approval, advice and support. Similar committees were formed in other colonies in America, including New York, making this a strong network that helped communication across the thirteen colonies in order to gain independence from Great Britain.

Forming the Boston Committee of Correspondence was the first step against the British Crown.

The committees were responsible for the atmosphere in the Colonial America on a particular issue or law. Most of the correspondents were members were active in Sons of Liberty organizations. The committees lasted for twelve years, 1772-1784.

 

Sources:

http://archives.nypl.org/mss/343#overview

http://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/committees-of-correspondencehttp://www.rutgersprep.org/kendall/7thgrade/cycleA_2013-14/09_ZO/samueladams_ZO.html

http://www.rutgersprep.org/kendall/7thgrade/cycleA_2013-14/09_ZO/samueladams_ZO.html

 

 

 

Did Richard Fortune Earn his Freedom in the War?

While Titus Kent is an African-American Revolutionary War veteran recognized on Suffield Veterans Memorial, a classmate discovered that a Richard Fortune fought in the Connecticut Regiment, and he is listed as being from Suffield. This discovery made me reflect on my previous research where I read Katherine Harris’ introduction in African American Connecticut Explored, where she opens the collection of history with this reflection: “The coexistence of freedom and slavery shape the lives of people of African descent from their first arrival in the Connecticut colony.” I then read David O White’s work, Revolutionary War Service; Path to Freedom in the collection and began more research on Richard Fortune.

We were able to get more in depth about what an important Katherine Harris’ research was. Looking into her researching history about slavery and freedom in Suffield Connecticut, I was able to come across Richard Fortune. Just like Titus Kent, who has
been researched by one of my classmates was an important

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Researched on Ancestry.com

Richard Fortune was pa
rt of the Revolutionary War and entered into the army at the age of around 18. In the 1820’s there are records of the United States Federal Census. This record informs us that Richard Fortune had to be the age of 45 and up in the year 1820. It also gave us information on his spouse. His wife was Diana Fortune who was able to live longer than him and she received his pension benefits when she was his widow. There is also a record of
her age in the year 1820. It says she was in between 26 and 44 years of age. This is a broad range, but it gives us the idea that she was fairly younger than Mr.

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Researching on Ancestry.com

Fortune.
As a class we were hoping to get more background information if possible on Richard Fortune. Researching Titus Kent gave us a good deal of information on Connecticut Slavery and Freedom during 1774. Thus, so finding more information on another African American soldier would get us closer to answers we are looking for as a class. If we could find more information on Richard Fortune, that could be great for my class. Can anyone help us with more sources and resources to find out more about Richard Fortune’s life after the war?

Preaching the Aboliton of Slavery

I have continued my research into the impact of religion on slavery and freedom in Connecticut in 1774. The connection between the two topics is particularly interesting to me because of the potential impact religion could have had on the institution of slavery. Some religious leaders did indeed speak out about the institution and were active in trying to abolish it, while others did not. From what I understand about Reverend Levi Hart of Preston, Connecticut, he was one who spoke out against slavery, he advocated for better living situations and lives for slaves. While Timothy Dwight IV, the president of Yale, initially was said to not agree with slavery but eventually bought a slave named Naomi. Although he did claim it was his intention to “buy her freedom” we are unsure as to if this ever happened.

antislaverysermonedwards2

Jonathan Edwards Sermon

A new name I have come across is theologian Jonathan Edwards of Connecticut who was born in 1745. He supposedly recycled Anthony Bezenet’s golden rule. Bezenet was a Quaker delegate from Philadelphia also born in 1745 and his golden rule was “whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them”. Bezenet taught African American school children at a school he set up called the African Free School in Philidelphia. He advocated for full equality for black and white people and acknowledged as a white male that he was not interested in having superiority. He came up with many philosophical arguments countering the institution. Jonathan Edwards also looked to the Revolutionary War natural rights arguments to justify his thoughts on why slavery should be abolished. Edwards even gave sermons preaching his thoughts, one titled “The Injustice and Impolicy of the Slave-Trade and the Slavery Of Africans”, in 1791 to an anti-slavery group in New Haven Connecticut. I am currently searching for more information on this sermon as well as this group and am starting by looking for a copy or a typed version of the sermon.

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Log book of slaves Africa to New London

Through my current research on Jonathan Edwards, I was able to find awesome recourses that has a list of prints created in Connecticut in the 1700’s regarding slavery that I am hoping to continue to look into. For example, I found the log book of slave trades from New London to Africa as well as a story of a specific slave we have yet to search named James Mars. I am excited to further my knowledge on all of these issues, and I think I have come across some excellent finds through the UMASS Amherst library and the library of Congress. The religious impact on slavery was seemingly impressive. It turns out that quite a few religious leaders did not agree with the institution and through the search of one influential, comes the names of many others in our area.

http://libguides.southernct.edu/lincoln

https://www.loc.gov/exhibits/african-american-odyssey/abolition.html

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/trr106.html

http://princeamongslaves.org/module/abolitionism.html?page=2

http://woolmancentral.com/files/J_Kershner_Woolman_Lecture_2015.pdf

https://www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org/stowedocuments/Slavery_in_New_England.pdf

https://books.google.com/books?id=gnFYUkVujAwC&pg=PA244&lpg=PA244&dq=secondary+sources+about+jonathan+edwards+ct+theology&source=bl&ots=wVPhWMoC_I&sig=RcGCZcprvKT_3CzB5V6o2r9XUkA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi71N3XlqnSAhXr24MKHXAvB8AQ6AEILTAE#v=onepage&q=secondary%20sources%20about%20jonathan%20edwards%20ct%20theology&f=false

New London

After looking into the origins of slavery in Connecticut, and finding that New London was a slave town what exported slaves into other places in Connecticut, I think that I should stay on this idea, and start digging deeper. new_london_ct_4.jpgRecently I have found that New London had 316 slaves by 1774, while Suffield’s only had 33, which brings it to roughly 10 percents of slaves in New London. Now knowing that New London was exporting slaves to Suffield, we can estimate that it was selling one tenth of their slave population to Suffield, this is a big percentage, counting on how many other towns and cities there are in Connecticut at that time. I will be researching more in that area, and start getting information from different sources, old journals etc, to find evidence to my topic.

Hot log secondary source:

“Connecticut Slave Population By County And Town In 1774.” Tribunedigital-thecourant. N.p., 29 Sept. 2002. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.

“Slavery in the North.” Slavery in the North. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.

African American CT Explored

After researching more into the historian, I came across a book that she took part in. The book is named African American Connecticut Explored and this book examines details that we can look into for our topic. Katherine Harris sect5126etgSZRL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgion of the book explains the extent of slavery in Connecticut. Even the Africans that had the “free” status didn’t in all actual reality have all the privileges of being free. There were many interesting facts that she stated as well about the state of Connecticut. Connecticut had the largest number of enslaved Africans in New England at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. For instance between 1749 and 1774 the largest number of enslaved people took place. In order for slaves to achieve their freedom fully there was a long process that took place starting in the late 1770’s. Gradual Emancipation was the word used for Africans trying to gain their freedom back. Katherine Harris also found information that could put us deeper in our topic. Dr. Warren Perry of Central Connecticut State University is looking more into ancestors of the slaves to get more background in
formation. Douglas Harper was also someone of importance in Harris’s writing. Douglas Harper can also be someone to look into that can lead us to answers that we have about 1774 Suffield CT history. He has some writings that could be interesting to look at. There were also town meetings in New London that could be interesting to look into; to see if they got town meeting records. These are just some things that could put us in the right direction and be interesting to look into.