On September 17, on Constitution Day, the Hendrick Hudson DAR Chapter will hold its first Speaker Series program of the 2022-2023 year at the Sheffield (MA) Historical Society. On September 17th in 1787 the US Constitution was signed in Philadelphia. Bearing direct relation to the Constitution is the celebrated Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman story, which transpired in Sheffield. Freeman’s bold actions, drawing on the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution, had a direct and momentous impact on the lives of enslaved African Americans in Massachusetts, and beyond.
Jennifer Owens, administrator at the Sheffield Historical Society, will tell the remarkable story of this local enslaved woman called Bett, or Mumbet, who made history because, when patriots spoke of personal liberties, she listened carefully. As a result, she understood her rights in the new emerging American government.
When the Massachusetts Constitution was ratified in 1780, ahead of the US Constitution, Bett fought for her rights in the Massachusetts court and won her freedom. That was to the benefit of all enslaved African Americans in the Commonwealth. Stories like hers eventually led to the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution in 1865.
Born enslaved at Pieter Hogeboom’s farm in Claverack, NY, it was around 1758 when this extraordinary woman was brought to the Sheffield area to live with Pieter’s daughter Hannah who had married Colonel John Ashley. After Bett’s release from slavery, she changed her name to Elizabeth Freeman. But, because she was a midwife and a nanny, the grateful family she worked for as a free person would call her Mum Bett or Mumbet.
A statue in Mumbet’s honor was unveiled in Sheffield on August 21, the highlight of a weekend-long celebration.
The talk will be broadcast over Zoom on September 17th at 11:15am. Registration is required; click here to register.
The Hendrick Hudson Chapter of the DAR was chartered in 1896. A nonpartisan organization welcoming eligible women without regard to race, creed, or religion, it includes 130 members who trace their lineage back to a patriot in the American Revolution–whether serving as soldier, shopkeeper, or seamstress. The mission of the DAR is to promote historic preservation, education, and patriotism.
The chapter owns and maintains its meeting house, the Historic Robert Jenkins House, at 113 Warren Street in Hudson. The chapter and the chapter house can be accessed at hudson-dar.org, facebook.com/HudsonDAR, instagram.com/robertjenkinshouse, firstname.lastname@example.org, and (518) 828-9764.