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Submitted by T.Cole –

Mum Bett came into this world about 1748. She was born a slave, owned by Peter Hogebooma (a Dutchman), who lived in Claverack, New York. Bett was raised and served there until she was 33 years old. In 1781, during the American Revolution, she went to Sheffield, Massachusetts, where she worked for Hogeboom’s daughter and her husband John Ashley, a well-known judge and patriot.

While working for the Ashleys, Bett would serve food and drinks at many of Mr. Ashley’s political meetings. It was during these many meetings where she would overhear remarks and was soon moved by the principles of the equalities of man she heard the patriots speak. It was during this time that the Bill of Rights was discussed, as well as a new constitution for Massachusetts.

Early in the year 1781, Bett went into town one day and stopped by the office of Theodore Sedgwick, a young lawyer she had seen at many of Ashley’s political meetings. It was there that Bett asked Sedgwick to sue for her freedom.