QUESTION

Starting from positions of inferior privilege, activists among colonial women and Africans Americans took advantage of the turmoil of revolution and constitution building to advance, as best they might their own social, economic, and political interests

Assess the validity of this statement for both colonial women and blacks, describe the level of access each group achieved, and support your positions using both facts taken from the documents and outside information.

 

DOCUMENT   A

With scant words, this Connecticut woman instructed her husband in his duty as a soldier.

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I was att my house in bed, between Brake of Day and sunrise. I hard the Signel of an-larm by the fireing of thre Cannon.... I turn’d Out and ask’d my wife to git Brakefast as soon as possabel for I must go off. I went Down on the hill.... Whare the fleet was in fare Site in a line acrost the harber. There was 15 Sale of Ships and other Square rig’d Vesels, besides other Vesels. I came home. My brakefast was redy. After Brakefast... My horse Being redy I slung my Musket & Cartrig Box and mounted my littel Black Boy.... After I got Under Way my wife Called to me prety loud. I Stopt my horse and ask’d her What She wanted. Her answer was Not to let me hear that you are Shot in the Back.

SOURCE:   Connecticut Wife to her Minute Man Husband, 1775.

 

DOCUMENT   B

Printed in a local colonial newspaper and probably written by a man, this poem nonetheless points out the importance in which supporters of the Revolution held efforts by women.

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And as one all agree that you’ll not married be
To such as will wear London factory,
But at first sight refuse, tell them such you may choose
As encourage our own manufactory.
No more ribands wear, nor in rich dress appear,
Love your country much better than fine things,
Begin without passion, ‘twill soon be the fashion
To grace your smooth locks with a twine string.

SOURCE:  An Address to the Ladies of Virginia, circa. 1775 .

 

DOCUMENT   C

Women In the New Republic, 1776

Abigail Adams corresponded with her husband throughout his long career and their many separations. In 1776 John Adams was a delegate to the Continental Congress at Philadelphia when this series of letters were exchanged. The Adams couple enjoyed a close, intimate lifetime relationship. Abigail was not joking when she spoke of a change of status for women, she was a free thinking individual, but John was less open to the changes she proposed as evidenced in his later letter to John Sullivan on the topic of voting.

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Abigail Adams to John Adams, Braintree, 31 March 1776

I long to hear that you have declared an independancy -- and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose I will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation....

 

John Adams to Abigail Adams, Philadelphia, 14 April 1776

...As to your extraordinary Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh. We have been told that our Struggle has loosened the bands of Government everywhere. That Children and Apprentices were disobedient -- that schools and Colledges were grown turbulent - that Indians slighted their Guardians and Negroes grew insolent to their Masters. But your Letter was the first Intimation that another Tribe more numerous and powerful than all the rest were grown discontented. -- This is rather too course a Compliment but you are so saucy, I wont blot it out.

Depend upon it, We know better than to repeal our Masculine systems. Altho they are in full Force, you know they are little more than Theory. We dare not exert our Power to its full Latitude. We are obliged to go fair, and softly, and in Practice you know We are the subject. We have only the Name of Masters, and rather than give up this, which would compleatly subject Us to the Despotism of the Peticoat< I hope General Washington and all our brave Heroes would fight....

 

John Adams to John Sullivan, Philadelphia, 26 May 1776

It is certain in Theory, that the only moral Foundation of Government is the Consent of the People. But to what an Extent Shall We carry this Principle? Shall We Say, that every Individual of the Community, old and young, male and female, as well as rich and poor, must consent, expressly to every Act of Legislation? No, you will Say. this is impossible. How then does the Right arise in the Majority to govern the Minority, against their Will? Whence arises the Right of the Men to govern Women, without their Consent? Whence the Right of the old to bind the Young, without theirs?

But let us first Suppose, that the whole Community of every Age, Rank, Sex, and Condition, has a Right to vote. This Community, is assembled -- a Motion is made and carried by a Majority of one Voice. The Minority will not agree to this. Whence arises the Right of the Majority to govern, and the Obligation of the Minority to obey? from Necessity, you will Say, because their can be no other Rule, But why exclude Women/ You will Say, because their Delicacy renders them unfit.... And Children Have not Judgment or Will of their own. True. But will not these Reasons apply to others?

...I believe... that Wisdom and Policy would dictate in these Times, to be very cautious of Making Alterations [to voting requirements]. Our people have never been very rigid in Scrutinizing into the Qualifications of Voters, and I presume they will not now begin to be so. But I do not advise them to make any alteration in the Laws, at present, respecting the qualifications of voters.....

Depend upon it, sir, it is dangerous to open So fruitfull a Source of Controversy and Altercation, as would be opened by attempting to alter the Qualifications of Voters. There will be no End of it. New Claims will arise. Women will demand a Vote. Lads from 12 to 21 will think their Rights not enough attended to, and every man, who has not a Farthing, will demand an equal Voice with any other in all Acts of State. It tends to confound and destroy all Distinctions, and prostrate all Ranks, to one common Levell. I am &c.

John Adams

 

DOCUMENT   D

New Jersey Women and Blacks Can Vote, 1776

In 1776 in response to the call from the Continental Congress for all thirteen colonies to adopt state constitutions, New Jersey wrote its own fundamental document more liberally than any other of the colonies. New Jersey extended the right to vote to women and free blacks and this was not accident - it was affirmed in another law three years later concerning the election of members of the Legislative Council., the General Assembly, sheriffs and coroners in which the legislators wrote: "... every voter shall openly, and in full view deliver his or her ballot..." Women and blacks voted until 1807 when serious allegations of vote fraud by some women voters resulted in a new law redrawing that right.

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... We, the representatives of the Colony of New Jersey, having been elected by all the Counties, in the freest manner, and in congress assembled, have, after mature deliberations, agreed upon a set of charter rights and the form of a Constitution, in the manner following, viz...

Section IV.

That all inhabitants of this Colony, of full age, who are worth fifty pounds proclamation money, clear estate in the same, and have resided within the County in which they claim a vote for twelve months immediately preceding the election, shall be entitled to vote for Representatives in Council and Assembly, and also for all other public officers, that shall be elected by the people of the County at large....
                                                                                        New Jersey State Constitution of 1776.

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 Whereas doubts have been raised, the great diversities in practice obtained throughout the state in regard to the admission of aliens, females, and persons of color, or negroes to vote in elections...

Section I.

Be it enacted, by the council and general assembly of this state, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That from and after the passage of this act, no person shall vote in any state or county election... unless such person be a free, white, male citizens of this state..."

                                                                                                            Election Laws of 1807.

 

DOCUMENT   E

An American Woman Declares Her Loyalties, 1777

Writing to a British officer fighting against Washington’s army, this Philadelphia woman seemed to feel no need to hide her leanings toward the rebel cause and her personal efforts in support of the Revolution. Multiply this single effort by hundreds of thousands across the thirteen colonies and it is easy to see the important part played by women in the Revolution.

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I have retrenched every superfluous expense in my table and family.... Tea I have not drunk since last Christmas, nor bought a new cap or gown since your defeat at Lexington, and what I never did before, have learnt to knit, and am now making stockings of American wool for my servants, and this way do I throw in my mite to the public good. I know this, that as free I can die but once, but as a slave I shall not be worthy of life... All ranks of men among us are in arms. Nothing is heard now in our streets but the trumpet and drum, and the universal cry is "Americans, to arms!"

SOURCE:   Lady Patriot of Philadelphia, circa 1777.

 

DOCUMENT   F

Abigail Adams Describes Rebellious Ladies of Massachusetts, 1777

Colonial women played a significant role in the American Revolution. Organizing themselves into the Daughters of Liberty, they were just as radical as their male counterparts. The women were responsible for boycotting British household goods and making good that embargo by buying only American made goods, sewing their own clothing and that of their men and children, weaving American wool and cotton into homespun textiles, and a myriad of ways to support the Revolution. In this case, Abigail Adams proudly wrote to her husband of the manner in which the women of Massachusetts [probably Braintree, her home] dealt with an opportunistic merchant who used the war to justify inflationary prices for his wares.

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One eminent, wealthy, stingy merchant (who is a bachelor) had a hogshead [wooden barrel of 60-140 gallons in volume] of coffee in his store, which he refused to see the committee under six shillings per pound. A number of female, some say a hundred, some say more. assembled with a cart and trunks, marched down to the warehouse, and demanded the keys, which he refused to deliver. Upon which one of them seized him by his neck and tossed him into the cart. Upon his finding no quarter, he delivered the keys when they tipped up the cart and discharged him; then opened the warehouse, hoisted out the coffee themselves, put it into the trunks and drove off.... A large concourse of men stood amazed, silent spectators of the whole transaction....

SOURCE:  Abigail Adams to John Adams, 1777 .

 

DOCUMENT   G

Petition of a Revolutionary Soldier, Female, 1782

Deborah Sampson (1760-1827) - bound as a child into indentured service, Deborah Sampson acquired a limited education and after she received her freedom in 1779, she taught school for a time. In 1782 she enlisted in the Continental Army, Fourth Massachusetts Regiment, under the name Robert Shurtleff. She performed military duties, participating in several combat engagements, until 1783 when she was hospitalized in Philadelphia, discovered as a female, and discharged at West Point in 1783.

Deborah returned to Massachusetts to resume the life of a female. In 1785 she married Benjamin Gannett, a farmer. She gave birth to three children. In 1797 she related the story of her war service to Herman Mann, a writer, who publicized the story in a romantic novel. She was awarded a war service pension by the State of Massachusetts in 1792 and a partial veterans pension by the United States government in 1805. After her death, her husband petitioned Congress for a survivor’s pension which was granted by act of Congress to the amount of $80.00 a year in a bill entitled: "Act for the relief of the heirs of Deborah Gannett, a soldier of the Revolution, deceased."

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"Tuesday, November 28, 1797

A petition for Deborah Gannett of the town of Sharon in the state of Massachusetts, was presented to the house and read, stating that the petitioner, though a female, enlisted as a continental soldier, for the term of three years, in the Massachusetts line, of the late American Army, by the name of Robert Shurtleff; that she faithfully performed the duties of a soldier during the time above specified, and received a wound while in the actual service of the United States, in consequence of which she is subjected to pain and infirmities; and praying that she may receive the pay and emoluments granted to other wounded and disabled soldiers.

Ordered, that the said petition; together with the petition of Andrew Pepin, presented the nineteenth of November, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two, and the report of the Secretary of War thereon, of the second of March, one thousand seven hundred and ninety three, be referred to the Committee of Claims.
                                                        
Journal of the House of Representatives, Vol. III, page 90.

-----------------------------

Friday , March 9, 1798

Mr. Dwight Foster, from the committee of claims, to whom were referred the petitions of James Brown, of Deborah Gannett, of John Smuck, one of the heirs of Francis Koonz, deceased, and of John Henry Zimmerman, made a report, which was read and considered; Whereupon,

Resolved, that the prayer of the petitions of the said James Brown, Deborah Gannett, John Smuck, and John Henry Zimmerman, cannot be granted."
                                                     Journals of the House of Representatives, Vol. III, page 220.

 

DOCUMENT   H

A Young Lady Goes Radical, 1793

Priscilla Mason’s outspoken address before the patrons of her academy was an unusual, but not an unheard of display. Mason demanded that rights of men be extended to women, while suggesting that women should earn those rights by seeking a proper education. In what ways have women’s attitudes begun to change between 1775 and 1793?

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Our high and mighty Lords (thanks to their arbitrary constitutions have denied us the means of knowledge, and then reproached us for the want of it. Being the stronger party, they early seized the scepter and the sword; with these they gave laws to society; they denied women the advantage of a liberal education; forbid them to exercise their talents on those great occasions, which would serve to improve them.... Happily, a more liberal way of things begins to prevail. The sources of knowledge are gradually opening to our sex.... But supposing now that we posses'd all the talents of the orator, in the highest perfection; where shall we find a theatre for the display of them? Man; despotic man, first made us incapable of the duty, and then forbid us the exercise. Let us by suitable education, qualify ourselves for those high departments--they will open before us.

SOURCE:  Priscilla Mason's salutary address to the Young Ladies' Academy, 1793 .

 

DOCUMENT   I

A Slave’s Petition for Freedom, 1774

The articulate arguments being offered by the colonists to justify their own demands for rights and the power of self-government were not lost on slaves, especially these in the colony of Massachusetts. In 1774 several black slaves petitioned to the royal governor for their freedom based upon the same arguments later offered in the Declaration of Independence.
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The Petition of a Grate Number of Blacks of this Province who by divine permission are held in the state of Slavery within the bowels of a free and Christian Country

Humbly Shewing

That your Petitioners apprehind we have in common with all other men a natural 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 bosums 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 for we are no longer man and wife than our masters or mistresses thinkes proper marred or unmarred. Our children are also taken from us by force and sent maney miles from us wear we seldom or ever see them again there to be made slaves of for Life which sumtimes is vere short by Reson of Being dragged from their mothers Breest Thus our Lives are imbittered to us on these accounts By our deplorable situation.... We therfor Bage your Excellency and Honours will give this its deer [due] weight and consideration and that you will accordingly cause an act of the legislative to be passed that we may obtain our Natural right our freedoms and our children be set at lebety at the year of twenty one for whoues sake more petequeley your Petitioners is in Duty ever to pray.

SOURCE:  Appeal of a Group of Slaves to Thomas Gage, Governor of Massachusetts, May 25, 1774..

 

DOCUMENT   J

This is another, later petition from Massachusetts slaves demanding their freedom on the same authority as the colonies were demanding independence. This petition is aimed at the state legislature rather than the royal governor. The petition mentions that frequent requests had earlier been made without result, but this time the petitioners remark that the Massachusetts legislature could not in good conscience or consistency demand of Britain what it refused its own black residents.

Notice the arguments based upon natural rights - arguments that Jefferson had used in the Declaration of Independence. Although their petition would not be immediately answered, after the Revolution, Massachusetts would eventually abolish slavery within its state boundaries.

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To the Honorable Council & House of Representatives for the State of Massachusetts-Bay in General Court assembled January 13th 1777.

The Petition of a great number of Negroes who are detained in a state of Slavery in the Bowels of a free & Christian Country Humbly Shewing:

That your Petitioners apprehend that they have, in common with all other Men, a natural & unalienable right to that freedom, which the great Parent of the Universe hath bestowed equally on all Mankind, & which they have never forfeited by any compact or agreement whatever--But they were unjustly dragged, by the cruel hand of Power, from their dearest friends, & some of them even torn from the embraces of their tender Parents, from a populous, pleasant and plentiful Country--& in Violation of the Laws of Nature & of Nation & in defiance of all the tender feelings of humanity, brought hither to be sold like Beasts of Burden, & like them condemned to slavery for Life--Among a People professing the mild Religion of Jesus--A People not insensible of the sweets of rational freedom--Nor without spirit to resent the unjust endeavours of others to reduce them to a State of Bondage & Subjection.

Your Honors need not to be informed that a Life of Slavery, like that of your petitioners, deprived of every social privilege, of every thing requisite to render Life even tolerable, is far worse than Non-Existence--In imitation of the laudable example of the good People of these States, your Petitioners have long & patiently waited the event of Petition after Petition by them presented to the legislative Body of this State, & can not but with grief reflect that their success has been but too similar.

They can not but express their astonishment, that it has never been considered, that every principle from which America has acted in the course of her unhappy difficulties with Great-Britain, pleads stronger than a thousand arguments in favor of your Petitioners.

They therefore humbly beseech your Honors, to give this Petition its due weight & consideration, & cause an Act of the Legislature to be passed, whereby they may be restored to the enjoyment of that freedom which is the natural right of all Men--& their Children (who were born in this Land of Liberty) may not be held as Slaves after they arrive at the age of twenty one years.

So may the Inhabitants of this State (no longer chargeable with the inconsistency of acting, themselves, the part which they condemn & oppose in others) be prospered in their present glorious struggles for Liberty; & have those blessings secured to them by Heaven, of which benevolent minds can not wish to deprive their fellow Men.

And your Petitioners, as in Duty Bound shall ever pray.

Lancaster Hill
Peter Bess
Brister Slenten
Prince Hall
Jack Purpont his mark
Nero Suneto his mark
Newport Symner his mark
Job Lock

SOURCE:  Slaves Address the State Legislature of Massachusetts, 1777 .

 

DOCUMENT   K

Seven Black Men of Massachusetts Demand the Vote

In 1780 seven free black men of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, petitioned the state legislature to grant them the right to vote using the same argument of taxation that the colonists had used to justify rebellion against the King of Great Britain, that American Revolution then ongoing.

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...we apprehend ourselves to be Aggreeved, in that while we are not allowed the Privilage of freemen of the State having no vote or Influence in the Election of those that Tax us yet many of our Colour (as it well known) have cheerfully Entered the field of Battle in defense of the Common Cause and that (as we conceive) against a similar Exertion of Power (in Regard to taxation) too well known to need a recital in this place....

SOURCE:  The petition of seven black men of Dartmouth, 1780.

 

DOCUMENT   L

Benjamin Banneker Challenges Jefferson, 1791

A self-taught mathematician and astronomer and free-born black man of Maryland, Banneker sent Jefferson an almanac he had composed as a demonstration of the abilities and skills of one of the black race and challenged Jefferson and other white Americans "...to wean yourselves from those narrow prejudices which you have imbibed." Jefferson was so impressed with Banneker’s skills that he would recommend him to the French Academy of Sciences and arrange a position for Banneker as surveyor for the District of Columbia.

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I suppose it is a truth too well attested to you, to need a proof here, that we are a race of beings, who have long labored under the abuse and censure of the world; that we have long been looked upon with an eye of contempt; and that we have long been considered rather as brutish than human, and scarcely capable of mental endowments.... I apprehend you will embrace every opportunity to eradicate that train of absurd and false ideas and opinions, which so generally prevails with respect to us; and that your sentiments are concurrent with mine, which are, that one universal Father hath given being to us all; and that he hath not only made us all of one flesh, but that he hath also, without partiality, afforded us all the same sensations and endowed us all with the same faculties....

SOURCE:  Benjamin Banneker to Thomas Jefferson, August 19, 1791.

 

DOCUMENT   M

Jefferson Responds to a Free Black, 1791

Benjamin Banneker was a free-born black of Maryland, a self-taught mathematician and astronomer, who wrote almanac as a sideline. Jefferson was so impressed with Banneker’s skills that he arranged an appointment for him as surveyor for the District of Columbia.

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Philadelphia Aug. 30, 1791

Sir.

I thank you sincerely for your letter of the 19th instance and for the Almanac it contained. No body wishes more than I do to see such proofs as you exhibit, that nature has given our black brethren, talents equal to those of the other colors of men, and that the appearance of a want of them is owing merely to the degraded condition of their existence, both in Africa & America. I can add with truth, that no body wishes more ardently to see a good system commenced for raising the condition both of their body & mind to what it ought to be, as fast as the imbecility of their present existence, and other circumstances which cannot be neglected, will admit. I have taken the liberty of sending your Almanac to Monsieur de Condorcet, Secretary of the Academy of Science at Paris, and a member of the Philanthropic society, because I considered it as a document to which your whole colour had a right for their justification against the doubts which have been entertained of them. I am with great esteem, Sir Your most obedt. humble servt.

SOURCE:  Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Banneker, August 30, 1791.

 

DOCUMENT   N

Freed Blacks Ban Together for Mutual Benefits, 1796

Regular insurance was not yet invented at the time of the Revolution and Constitution, but it was common for middle class men to band together in benevolence societies which functioned as insurance. The African Society was such an organization for the purpose of protecting its members and their families from the unexpected calamity. The monthly subscription endowed a charity funds to finance assistance to stricken members or surviving family members . Organized in 1796 by a handful of free blacks, but 1807 the society was prospering and possesses more than forty members.

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The Rules of the African Society

1st. We, the African Members, form ourselves into a Society, under the above name, for the mutual benefit of each other, which may from time to time offer; behaving ourselves at the same time as true and faithful Citizens of the Commonwealth in which we live; and that we take no one into the Society, who shall commit any injustice or outrage against the laws of their country.

2d. That before any person can become a Member of the Society, he must be presented by three of the Members of the same....

3d. That each Member on admittance, shall pay one quarter of a Dollar to the Treasurer; and be credited for the same, in the books of the Society; and his name added to the list of the Members.

4th. That each Member shall pay one quarter of a Dollar per month to the Treasurer, and be credited for the same on the book; but no benefit can be tendered to any Member, until he has belonged to the Society one year.

5th. That any Member, or Members, not able to attend the regular meetings of the Society, may pay their part by appointing one of their brothers to pay the same for him... [and] ...though absent for any length of time, on their return, will pay up the same, shall still be considered as brothers....

6th. That no money shall be returned to any one, that shall leave the Society....

7th. That any Member, absenting himself from the Society, for the space of one year, shall be considered as separating himself from the same....

8th. That a committee, consisting of three, or five persons, shall be chosen by the members every three months; and that their chief care shall be, to attend the sick, and see that they want nothing that the Society can give,...

9th. That all monies, paid into the Society, shall be credited to the payers; and all going out, shall be debted to whom, or what for; and a regular account kept by one, chosen by the Society for that purpose.

10th. When any Member, or Members of the Society is sick, and not able to supply themselves with necessaries, suitable to their situations, the committee shall then tender to them and their family whatever the Society have, or may think fit for them. And should any Member die, and not leave wherewith to pay the expenses of his funeral, the Society shall then see that any, so situated, be decently buried....

11th. Should any Member die, and leave a lawful widow and children, the Society shall consider themselves bound to relieve her necessities....

12th. Should the Society, with the blessing of Heaven, acquire a sum suitable to bear interest, they will then take into consideration the best method they can, of making it useful.

13th. The Members will watch over each other in their Spiritual concerns; and by advice, exhortation, and prayer excite each other to grow in Grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ....

14th. That each Member traveling for any length of time, by Sea or Land, shall leave a Will with the Society, for to enable them to recover their effects, if they should not return,... this Will is to be delivered to [his lawful heir], the property is to be delivered to him....

The African Society have a Charity Lecture quarterly, on the second Tuesday in every third month.

SOURCE:  Laws of the African Society, Instituted at Boston, Anno Domini, 1796.

 

DOCUMENT   O

Freed Slaves Petition for their Rights:

In 1797 four freed blacks petitioned the United States House of Representatives seeking federal protection for themselves and others. The House refused to accept their petition and referred their issue to the discretion of the individual states.

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To the President, Senate, and House of Representatives

The Petition and Representation of the under-named Freemen, respectfully showeth: --

That, being of African descent, late inhabitants and natives of North Carolina, to you only, under God, can we apply with any hope of effect, for redress of our grievances, having compelled to leave the State wherein we had a right of residence, as freemen liberated under the hand and seal of humane and conscientious masters, the validity of which act of justice, in retoring us to our native right of freedom, was confirmed by judgment of the Superior Court of North Carolina, wherein it was brought to trial; yet, not long after this decision, a law of that State was enacted, under which men of cruel disposition, and void of just principle, received countenance and authority in violently seizing, imprisoning, and selling into slavery, such as had been so emancipated; whereby we were reduced to the necessity of separating from some of our nearest and most tender connexions, and of seeking refuge in such parts of the Union where more regard is paid to the public declaration in favor of liberty and the common right of man, several hundreds, under our circumstances, having in consequence of the said law, been hunted day and night, like beasts of the forest, by armed men with dogs, and made a prey of as free and awful plunder....

We beseech your impartial attention to our hard condition, not only with respect to our personal sufferings, as freemen, but as a class of that people who, distinguished by color, are therefore with a degrading partiality, considered by many, even of those in eminent stations, as unentitled to that public justice and protection which is the great object of Government....

If... we cannot claim the privilege of representation in your councils, yet we trust we may address you as fellow-men, who, under God, the sovereign Ruler of the Universe, are intrusted with the distribution of justice, for the terror of evil-doers, the encouragement and protection of the innocent... May we not be allowed to consider this stretch of power [slavery] , morally and politically, a Governmental defect, if not a direct violation of the declared funadmental principles of the Constitution; and finally, is not some remedy for an evil of such magnitude highly worthy of the deep inquiry and unfeigned zeal of the supreme Legislative body of a free and enlightened people? Submitting our cause to God, and humbly craving your best aid and influence, as you may be favored by that wisdom which is from above, wherewith that you may be eminently dignified and rendered conspicuously, in the view of nations, a blessing to the people you represent, is the sincere prayer of your petitioners.

- Jaob Nicholson,
- Jupiter Nicholson, his mark,
- Job Albert, his mark,
- Thomas Pritchet, his mark"
                                                                                                  Philadelphia, January 23, 1797.

SOURCE:  Petition of Four Free Blacks to the United States House of Representatives, 1797, Annals of the Congress of the United States, 4th Congress, 2nd Session (1796-1797),  pp. 2015-18.


DBQ Question created by:
Mr. Gordon Price Utz, Jr.
Stratford Senior High School
Houston, TX