"Petition of a Grate Number of Blackes" to Thomas Gage
|"Petition of a Grate Number of Blackes" to Thomas Gage (1774)
|Petition of people of Massachusetts to Governor Thomas Gage and the Members of the Massachusetts General Court
The rhetoric of natural rights appealed directly to African American slaves as it had to women. Although white patriots frequently adopted the analogy between taxation without representation and slavery, they rarely, if ever, recognized the irony of the analogy for those whom they enslaved. However, the irony was not lost on colonial blacks. Adopting the language of rights and liberty, slaves frequently petitioned for their freedom during the Revolutionary era. The document reproduced below is the petition of a group of Boston slaves who eloquently attempted to remind white colonists that liberty and freedom should not be limited by race.
Your Petitioners apprehend we have in common with all other men a naturel right to our freedoms without Being depriv'd of them by our fellow men as we are a freeborn Pepel and have never forfeited this Blessing by aney compact or agreement whatever. But we were unjustly dragged by the cruel hand of power from our dearest friends and sum of us stolen from the bosoms of our tender Parents and from a Populous Pleasant and plentiful country and Brought hither to be made slaves for Life in a Christian land. Thus we are deprived of every thing that hath a tendency to make life even tolerable, the endearing ties of husband and wife we are strangers to. … Our children are also taken from us by force and sent maney miles from us. … Thus our Lives are imbittered. … There is a great number of us sencear. … members of the Church of Christ how can the master and the slave be said to fulfil that command Live in love let Brotherly Love contuner and abound Beare yea one nothers Bordenes. How can the master be said to Beare my Borden when he Beares me down which the. … chanes of slavery. … Nither can we reap an equal benefet from the laws of the Land which doth not justifi but condemns Slavery or if there had bin aney Law to hold us in Bondage. … ther never was aney to inslave our children for life when Born in a free Countrey. We therefore Bage your Excellency and Honours will. … cause an act of the legislative to be pessed that we may obtain our Natural right our freedoms and our children be set at lebety at the yeare of twenty one. . .
This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.