Author Ben Z. Rose brings to life the legendary hero of the New England Militia during America’s War of Independence. Born in Colonial New Hampshire to Scotch Irish immigrants, John Stark survived Indian captivity, and later fought alongside the British in the French and Indian War as part of Rogers Rangers, the legendary militia company which pioneered the tactics of today’s U.S. Army Special Forces. Stark’s first-hand exposure to second class citizenship in the British army fueled his desire to enlist in the Continental army and prevent a humiliating defeat at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Later, his surprise attack against British hired mercenaries at the Battle of Bennington turned the tide in favor of the young American army.
Ben Z. Rose focuses on a handful of people in John Stark’s life in an effort to gain insight into his motivation and character. These include his wife, Elizabeth “Molly” Stark, who hailed from a prominent Puritan family; his oldest son, Caleb, who enlisted in the Continental Army at the age of 15; Robert Rogers, founder of the colonial ranger force that bears his name; Seth Warner, captain of the Green Mountain Boys who fought for Vermont’s independence; fellow New Hampshire General John Sullivan, and General Horatio Gates, who rivaled George Washington for leadership of the Continental Army.
John Stark inspired the phrase “Live Free or Die—Death is not the greatest of evils” in a letter to the citizens of Vermont. Stark’s sentiment at the time was clearly intended to warn against another British invasion, which occurred a short time later when the British burned down the US Congress during the War of 1812. As we live in an age when the pendulum swings between concerns over government intrusion into our lives and the necessity to confront our overseas enemies, Stark speaks to us today with the same relevance as he did more than two-hundred years ago.
Mumbet was the Rosa Parks of her day. Her venue was a small-town court, rather than a crowded bus. But her bravery in defying the largest landowner in her community is inspiring.
Two months before the last battle of the American Revolution, a black slave known as Mumbet summoned the courage to sue her master, in a bid for her freedom. Though slavery had been ingrained in Massachusetts for well over a century, Mumbet was inspired by the public reading of the state’s ground-breaking Constitution, and its words, “all men are born free and equal.” Her case against the largest landowner in the region attracted the support of two up-and-coming attorneys: Theodore Sedgwick, a friend, and aspiring politician, and Tapping Reeve, the founder of the first law school in America.
In this fast-paced story of racial justice in early America, author Ben Z. Rose paints a portrait of Mumbet against the backdrop of the rise and fall of slavery in New England.
As we search for insight into those who planted the first seeds of abolition, Mumbet reminds us of the courage and sheer grit required to topple an established way of life. She also reminds us that before slavery could be abolished in the South, it needed to be uprooted in the North.
“As both an historian and as a descendant of the Sedgwick who freed Mumbet, I am happy to see that Ben Z. Rose has so successfully filled out her picture. As he reveals, Mumbet was a true heroine of the young republic, fully the equal of even the most illustrious of my forebears. I am glad to see her get her due at last.” – John Sedgwick, author of In My Blood: Six Generations of Madness and Desire in an American Family.
“Ben Z. Rose preserves the legacy of Mumbet, as she is best known, and adds to it with a fascinating context in which to measure her achievement. Only with diligent probing such as this can the larger picture of America’s past come to life.” – Bernard A. Drew, author of 100 Most Popular African American Authors.
“This gentle biography is an accessible guide to the courageous life of one of America’s greatest Founding Mothers. Mumbet was one of the country’s first civil rights leaders who challenged Americans to live up to the ideal of equality for all.” –Dr. Elizabeth Pleck, Ph.D, co-author of Love of Freedom: Black Women in Colonial and Revolutionary New England.
“Ben Z. Rose has written an insightful account of an unusual lawsuit in post-Revolutionary Massachusetts.” Summing Up: Recommended for general and undergraduate collections. –Choice Reviews, a division of the American Library Association.
“I highly recommend Mother of Freedom to those interested in slavery, African American biography, and early American history.” – Brother Benet Exton, in Curled Up with a Good Book.
“Telling the true story of this remarkable woman, Mother of Freedom is well worth the look.” –James Cox in the Midwest Book Review.
Ben Z. Rose
Ben Z. Rose is a New England-based writer, whose books focus on inspirational characters in early American history. In John Stark: Maverick General, Ben brings to life the legendary Patriot commander who survived Indian captivity, before becoming the hero of Bunker Hill and Bennington. The book was chosen by ForeWord Reviews’ quarterly magazine as a finalist for best biography. In Mother of Freedom, Ben explores the life of Mumbet, an African American slave who summoned the courage to take her master to court. The book was recommended by Choice Reviews as “an insightful account of an unusual lawsuit in post-Revolutionary Massachusetts.” A second edition is expected in March of 2020.
Ben has been a featured speaker at numerous museums, libraries, historical societies, bookstores, and civic groups. Ben and his writing have been featured in the Boston Globe, the Manchester Union Leader, the Concord Monitor, and the Walloomsack Review. He has been a guest on New Hampshire and Vermont Public radio. He can be reached at [email protected].
“We owe a debt of gratitude to Ben Z. Rose for bringing this hero of the Revolution back to life. This is a well-researched, important story of a memorable life.”
- Terry Golway, Author, Washington’s General: Nathanael Greene and the American Revolution