Text of Prince Hall's 1777 Petition for Freedom

January 13, 1777

Prince Hall signed this petition, which was sent to the Massachusetts Council and House of Representatives. Hall and six other African Americans stated their case for freedom as a natural right of all people.

Prince Hall, Illustration

Prince Hall was an African-American who lived in colonial Massachusetts. He played a prominent role in the abolition movement in colonial Boston.

To the Honorable Counsel & House of [Representa-]tives for the State of Massachusette Bay in General Court assembled, Jan 13 1777 —

The petition of A Great Number of Blackes detained in a State of Slavery in the Bowels of a free & christian Country Humbly shuwith that your Petitioners Apprehend that Thay have in Common with all other men a Natural and Unaliable Right to that freedom which the Grat [Great] – Parent of the Unavese [Universe] hath Bestowed equalley on all menkind [mankind] and which they have Never forfuted [forfeited] by Any Compact or Agreement whatever — but thay [they] wher [were] Unjustly Dragged by the hand of cruel Power from their Derest frinds [friends] and sum of them Even torn from the Embraces of their tender Parents — from A popolous [populous] Plasant [Pleasant] And plentiful cuntry [country] And in Violation of Laws of Nature and off Nations And in defiance of all the tender feelings of humanity Brough [Brought] hear [here] Either to Be sold Like Beast of Burthen & Like them Condemnd to Slavery for Life — among A People Profesing the [mild?] Religion of Jesus A people Not Insensible of the Secrets of Rationable Being Nor without spirit to Resent the unjust endeavours of others to Reduce them to A state of Bondage and Subjection your honouer [honor] Need not to be informed that A Life of Slavery Like that of your Petioners Deprived of Every social Priviledge of Every thing Requiset [Requisite] to Render Life Tolable [Tolerable] is far [ . . . ] worse then [than] Nonexistance.

[In imita ]tion of [the] Lawdable [Laudable] Example of the Good People of these States your petiononers have Long and Patiently waited the Evnt [Event] of petition after petition By them presented to the Legislative Body of this state And cannot but with Grief Reflect that their Sucess [Success] hath ben [been] but too similar they Cannot but express their Astonisments [Astonishments] that It has Never Bin [Been] Consirdered [Considered] that Every Principle from which Amarica has Acted in the Cours [Course] Of their unhappy Deficultes [Difficulties] with Great Briton Pleads Stronger than A thousand arguments in favowrs [favors] of Your petioners thay [they] therfor [therefore] humble [humbly] Beseech your Honours to give this petion [petition] its due weight & consider- ration and cause an act of the Legislatur to be past Wherby they may Be Restored to the Enjoyments of that Which is the Naturel [Natural] Right of all men — and their — Children who wher [were] Born in this Land of Liberty may not be heald [held] as Slaves after they arive [arrive] at the age of Twenty one years so may the Inhabitance [Inhabitants] of thes [this] State No longer chargeable with the inconsistancey of acting themselves the part which thay condem and oppose in Others Be prospered in their present Glorious Struggle for Liberty and have those Blessing to them &c.

Note: The edits to the text were made by the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Source: Massachusetts Historical Society Collections Online