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In 1773 and 1774, both free and enslaved blacks submitted five different petitions to the Massachusetts General Court (the state House of Representatives), urging an end to slavery and the granting of certain rights.
In 1777, Prince Hall and eight other black Bostonians presented yet another petition to the General Court, appealing to "A people Not Insensible of the Secrets of Rational Being Nor without spirit to Resent the unjust endeavors of others." Although very similar in language to the one rejected by Governor Thomas Gage in May 1774 -- a number of phrases, in fact, were lifted verbatim -- the new petition was quite different in tone, impatiently noting the fact that "your petitioners have Long and Patiently waited the Event of petition after petition."
As it had five times before, the legislature failed to act affirmatively on the petition, referring it instead to the Congress of the Confederation.
Image Credit: Courtesy of Massachusetts Archives
Abigail Adams's letter to her husband
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