Thursday, October 11, 2012
She was bought out of slavery and married at twenty-six years of age and started having a family immediately, but Terry still had time to distinguish herself as an uncommonly notable member of the community -- unusual for a woman and very unusual for a Black woman. According to her lengthy obituary in 1821, "the fluency of her speech captivated all around her." And she got plenty of opportunities to demonstrate this.
On one occasion in 1785, for example, when a White family threatened to take the land belonging to Terry and her husband, she went straight to the Governor and Council of Massachusetts and got them to instruct the local selectmen to protect the Black family's interests. Another time when Whites tried to steal her land after her husband died, Terry argued against the two best lawyers in Vermont before the Supreme Court of the State and beat them both. Presiding Justice Samuel Chase said her argument was the best he'd ever heard. But then, he probably didn't realize he had just heard an in-your-face woman.