A Revolutionary Woman

Elizabeth Freeman and the Abolition of Slavery in the North


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About the Book

At the end of the American Revolution, Elizabeth Freeman was an enslaved widow and mother living in Massachusetts. Hearing the words of the new Massachusetts state constitution which declared liberty and equality for all, she sought the help of a young lawyer named Theodore Sedgwick, later Speaker of the House and one of America’s leading Federalist politicians. The lawsuit that she and Sedgwick pursued would bring freedom to her and her daughter, as well as thousands of other enslaved people.

After leaving her enslaver’s family to work for the family of Theodore Sedgwick, she effectively became the foster mother to his seven children when his wife Pamela became a chronic invalid, enabling Sedgwick to pursue his political career. Two of his sons would credit her with saving their lives. His daughter Catharine Maria Sedgwick, one of the most famous female novelists of the early decades of the nineteenth century, would make her the model for one of her most celebrated heroines. This biography details Elizabeth Freeman’s life and the far-reaching influence of her battle for freedom.

About the Author(s)

Donna Tesiero holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell, a law degree from Columbia, and master’s degrees from Harvard and Lesley University. She lives in Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

Donna Tesiero

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 198
Bibliographic Info: 9 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2024
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9453-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5375-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Introduction 5
1. Beginnings 7
2. “Which was the slave and which was the real mistress?” 22
3. Revolutions Near and Far 33
4. A New Life and America’s Second Rebellion 48
5. Raising a Family and Building a Government 61
6. “The main pillar of our household” 72
7. A Brilliant Career, a Blind Eye 86
8. A Place of Her Own and a Long Goodbye 104
9. Big Decisions 119
10. A Mother to Them All 134
11. Sunset 145
Epilogue 157
Chapter Notes 161
Bibliography 181
Index 185