Nearly 250 years ago, a group of white men gathered in a house in Massachusetts to draft a document on independence aimed at the British crown. A woman who was enslaved in the house overheard the discussion and determined that the words applied to her, too.
Bett, who was later called Mumbet, was born enslaved south of Albany, N.Y., around 1742. In her teens, Bett was brought to the home of John and Hannah Ashley in Sheffield, Mass., where she cleaned, cooked and served the family.
In the upstairs study in January 1773, John Ashley and 10 other men gathered to write what became known as the Sheffield Resolves.