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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 330


This is the grave of Theodore Sedgwick.

Born in 1746 to one of Massachusetts’ oldest families, Sedgwick went to Yale but didn’t graduate. Instead, he went to Great Barrington where he entered the law. He was admitted in 1766 and practiced in Great Barrington. During the American Revolution, Sedgwick became a patriot and joined the military, serving as a major and participating in the failed attempt to take Canada and the Battle of White Plains. Still a young lawyer after the war, Sedgwick represented Elizabeth Freeman and another slave named Brom in their suit for freedom that laid the groundwork for Massachusetts eliminating slavery after the case’s completion in 1781. After Freeman received her freedom, her master wanted to hire her for wages, but she worked for the Sedgwick family instead and when she died, it was they who buried her and gave her a proper tombstone.

Sedgwick also had a significant political career. Not surprisingly for an elite from Massachusetts, Sedgwick became a Federalist, first being elected into the state legislature and then to Congress, where he served on two different occasions, first from 1789-96 and then for another term from 1799-1801. In 1802, he received an appointment to the Massachusetts Supreme Court. He remained in that position until his death in 1813, at the age of 66.

Theodore Sedgwick is buried in Stockbridge Cemetery, Stockbridge, Massachusetts, next to his first wife, who suffered from depression and committed suicide by swallowing poison in 1807.

If you would like this series to visit other early Americans interested in the anti-slavery cause, you can donate to cover the required expenses here. Moses Brown is buried in Providence, and OK, I can probably wander over to find his grave myself. But there are lots of other people to see too! Sarah Grimke is in Mattapan, Massachusetts as well. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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