Letter: At the heart of 'Mum Bett's Minute'


To the editor of THE EAGLE:

Phil Demers, in his August 18 Eagle article "Celebrating Mum Bett," notes there are conflicting interpretations about the events that led to the freedom of Elizabeth "Mum Bett" Freeman in 1781 from the shackles of slavery in the town of Sheffield.

I saw the Town Players production of Jesse Waldinger’s play, "Mum Bett’s Minute," mentioned in Mr. Demers’ article. In my view, courage is the underlying theme of the play: courage by Mum Bett to take the unprecedented step, at that time, of seeking her freedom through court action, courage by Theodore Sedgwick to take the case and successfully pursue it in court, and courage by John Ashley, Mum Bett’s owner and the defense lawyer, to secretly collude with Sedgwick during the trial to win the case for Mum Bett.

Whether that collusion actually happened is irrelevant. "Mum Bett’s Minute" is a play based on available historical facts. It portrays the intelligence and indomitable courage of Mum Bett in her insatiable drive for freedom.

And, yes, it is also about two wealthy white men who had the courage in 1781 to help overturn slavery in Massachusetts.




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