People & Events
1759 - 1838
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Agrippa Hull was born free in 1759, and at the age of six was brought to Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the Colonial army in 1777, and served for the duration of the war as an orderly to General John Patterson and to Tadeusz Kosciuszko, the Polish patriot. Kosciuszko once was surprised to discover Hull, dressed in the commander's uniform, giving a party for his friends!
After the war, Hull returned to Stockbridge, where he was a neighbor of Elizabeth Freeman, the first enslaved African American to be freed under the new state constitution. Judge Theodore Sedgewick, who as a young lawyer had represented Freeman in her suit, helped Hull to gain the freedom of Jane Darby, an enslaved woman who sought refuge in Stockbridge, where she met and married Hull. After Jane's death, Hull remarried.
In 1828, Charles Sedgwick wrote to the Acting Secretary of State on Hull's behalf, requesting that his soldier's pension be mailed directly to his home. Sedgewick asked for the return of the enclosed discharge paper, which had by signed by George Washington at West Point, explaining that Hull had been reluctant to part with it: "...he had rather forego the pension than lose the discharge."
Hull was known as a man of great dignity, pride, character and biting wit who became the village seer. Once, after Hull had accompanied his white employer to hear a "distinguished mulatto preacher," the man asked Hull, "Well, how do you like nigger preaching?" to which Hull replied, "Sir, he was half black and half white. I like my half, how did you like yours?"
Image Credit: Stockbridge Library Association Historical Collection
Portrait of Agrippa Hull
Sedgewick and Hull letter to Rush
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