To his Excellency Thomas Gage Esq
Captain General and Governor in Chief in and
over This Province

To the Honourable his Majestys Council
and the Honourable House of Representatives
in General Court assembled may 25 1774 [Although the year looks a little like 1777, the heading, and the fact that Gage was Governor between 1774-1775 would show that the date is 1774.]

The Petition of a Grate [Great] Number of Blackes of this
Province who by divine permission are held in a state
of Slavery within the bowels of a free and Christian
Country Humbly Shewing
That your Petitioners apprehend we have in common
With all other men a naturel [natural] right to our freedoms without
Being depriv'd of them by our fellow men as we are a
freeborn Pepel [People] and have never forfeited this Blessing
by aney [any] compact or agreement whatever. But we were unjustly
dragged by the cruel hand of power from our dearest
frinds [friends] and others sum [some] 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 are we 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 then our masters
or Mestreses [Mistresses] thinkes [think] proper marred [married] or onmarred [unmarried] . Our Children
are also taken from us by force and sent maney [many] miles
from us wear [where] we seldom or ever see them again there
to be made slaves of fore [for] Life which sumtimes [sometimes] is verey [very]
short by Reson [reason] of Being dragged from their mothers
Breest [Breast] Thus our Lives are imbittered to us on these accounts

By our deplorable situation we are rendered incapable
of shewing our obedience to Almighty God how can a
Slave perform the duties of a husband to a wife or parent
to his child How can a husband leave master and work and
Cleave to his wife How can the wife submit [theres ?] [there?] themselves
to there [their] Husbands in all things. How can the child obey
thear [their] parents in all things. There is a grat [great] number of us
Members Sencear [Sincere] thou [though] once [ov the?] members of Christs Church the Church of Christ how can
the master and the Slave be said to fullfil [fulfill] that command
Live in love let Brotherly Love contuner [continue] and abound
Beare [Bear] yea onenothers [one another] Bordenes [Burdens] How can the master be said
to Beare my Borden [Burden] when he Beares [Bears] me down, whith the
Have chanes [chains] of slavery and operson [oppression] aganst my will
and How can we fullfill [fulfill] our parte [parte] of duty to him whilst in this
Condition and as we cannot searve [serve] our god as we ought whilst
in this situation Nither [Neither] can we reap an equal benefet [benefit]
from the laws of the Land which doth not justifi [justify] but condemes [condemns]
Slavery or if there had bin [been] aney [any] Law to hold us in Bondege [Bondage]
we are Humbely [Humbly] of the opinon ther never was aney [any] to
inslave our children for life when Born in a free Countrey [Country] .
We therfor [therefore] Bage [Beg] your Excellency and Honours will give
this it its deu [due] weight and consideration and that you will
accordingly cause an act of the legislative to be pessed [passed]
that we may obtain our Natural right our freedoms
and our Children be set at lebety [liberty] at the yeare of Twenty
one for whoues [whose] sekes [sakes] more Petequeley [Particularly] your Petitioners is
is in Duty ever to Proy [Pray] .

31.1 cm x 19.7 cm

From the Jeremy Belknap papers