Mother of Freedom:
Mumbet and the Roots of Abolition

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.

Editorial Reviews

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.

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