|Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman, watercolor (reproduction) by Susan Anne Livingston Ridley Sedgwick, 1811|
In states where slaves were considered as persons before the law, they sued for, and sometimes won, their freedom in the courts. Elizabeth Freeman achieved freedom after petitioning the State of Massachusetts in 1781. "Anytime while I was a slave," she said, "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 airth a free woman. I would."
Courtesy Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston