"Biddy Mason a black women who won her freedom in the old west"
"Biddy Mason a Black wonem who won her freedom in the old west"
"Biddy Mason A lack women who won her freedom in the old waest"
This another story from the The Black Frontier according to author : Lillian Schlissel.
Biddy Mason was born a slave in 1818 in Hancock County,Georgia. she had three daughters, Harriet ,Ann, and Ellen. As salves in 1850, they were taken to California. They traveled by wagon at the end of a long caravan of three hundred wagons, where the dust from the hooves of the horses and oxen was stifling . Biddy kept going because she knew that California was a free state where slavery was not recognized.
In 1856 the family who owned them decide to move from California with their salves to Texas. But Biddy refused to go. She said she had become a free woman because she was living in a free state. Then she convinced the sheriff to stop her master from taking her out of California. With the help of white friends, she petitioned the federal district court in Los Angeles county, and in 1856 she was declared a free women.
Biddy Mason was lucky. Other black men and women during the years preceding the Civil War were stilled considered "property" by most courts, even when they had been taken to free territory . The legal issues were complicated because some of the states allowed slavery, others outlawed slavery, and territories had laws that were unclear.
Dred Scott was a slave in Missouri. His master took him to the free state of Illinois, then into territory where slavery had been excluded by the Missouri compromise, and then back to Missouri . Scott sued for his freedom because, like Biddy Mason, he said he had become a free man by living in Illinois. The supreme court , only one year after a court in Los Angeles found Biddy Mason was free, declared that Dred Scott had no right to bring suit because he wasn't a citizen.
The court declared that the Missouri compromise was unconstitutional because masters could take their slaves anywhere they liked. The Dred Scott decision , Like John Brown's raid at Harper's Ferry , split the nation apart. Thousand of people who ha been indifferent were now persuaded that slavery must be abolished. The Black leader
Frederick Douglass told his people the complete over-throw of the whole slave system would occur. Biddy mason married Charlie P.Owens in Los Angeles, and they worked together on behalf of the struggling black community . Biddy shrewdly guessed that in the long run, Land, not gold , was the most valuable thing to own, and she began buying real estate with every bit of money she could earn.
She and her husband started with twelve lots, but by the end of the of the 1880's, Biddy Mason's estate was worth more than $200,000. She used her money to help black families around her. She paid grocery bills when people were in need ; she donated land for black schools, churches and nursing homes; she sent food to black men in local jails; and she helped families devastated by floods.
Biddy Mason did not leave a monument , but she left a black community in Los Angeles that survived to this present day. When she died in 1891, one of those who knew her life's work called Biddy Mason one of the most remarkable pioneer of California.
Benny Faye Douglass
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