To his Excellency Thomas Gage Governor: --
To the Honourable, His Majesty's Council, and
The Honourable House of Representatives of the
Province of the Massachusetts Bay in General Court
assembled; June -- Anno Domini 1774. --

The Petition of us the Subscribers, in behalf of all those,
who, by divine permission, are held in a State of Slavery,
within the Bowels of a Free Country.

Humbly Sheweth,
That Your Petitioners apprehend, they have in
common with other men, a natural right to be free, and
without molestation, to enjoy such property, as they may
acquire by their industry, or by any other means not
detrimental to their fellow men; and that no person can
have any just claim to their services unless by the laws
of the land they have forfeited them, or by voluntary compact
become servants; neither of which is our case; but we were
dragged by the cruel hand of power, some of us from our
dearest connections, and others stolen from the bosoms of tender
parents and brought hither to be enslaved. Thus are we
deprived of every thing that has a tendency to make life even
tol[erable.] Whenever any social connections are formed among
[ . . . ] [emb ]ittered by the cruel consideration of,
[ . . . ] [d ]eprived of enjoying life in the same agre-
[able] [ . . . ] [fel ]low men, who were made by the
[ . . . ] Inherit the like Salvation with us.
[ . . . ] tion, we are rendered incapable of
[ . . . ] the Supreme Governor of the Universe,
[ . . . ] to the duties, which are due unto him.
[ . . . ] an intolerable grievance. We

are often under the necessity of obeying man, not only in
omission of, but frequently in opposition to the Laws of God. So
inimical is Slavery to religion! As we are hinder'd by
our situation from an observance of the Laws of God, so we
cannot reap an equal benefit from the Laws of the Land with
other Subjects. We are inform'd, there is no law of this
Province, whereby our masters can claim our Services; mere
custom is the tyrant that keeps us in bondage, and deprives
us of that use of the Law, which our fellow men, who we hope
believe under God are no better than us, are entitled to, & do
enjoy. We do not claim rigid justice: but as we are
deserving like other men, of some compensation for all our
toils and sufferings; we would therefore in addition to our
prayer, that all of us, excepting such as are now infirm through
age, or otherways unable to support themselves, may be libe-
rated and made free men of this community, and be en -
titled to all the privileges and immunities of its free
and natural born subjects. Further humbly ask that your
Excellency and Honours would be pleased to give and
grant to us some part of the unimproved land, belonging
to the province, for a settlement, that each of us may there
quietly sit down under his own fig tree [and enjoy] the fruits
of his labour.

We humbly [ . . . ]
Honours, will give this sch [ . . . ]
consideration; and Pray [ . . . ]
cause an act of the Legislative [ . . . ]
the Slaves throughout this [ . . . ]
obtain their freedom from [ . . . ]

at the same time Prohibiting any being sent out of the
Province, previous to the said acts taking place; or, at least
to declare, that there is no Law whatever for keeping us in

But if your Excellency & Honours cannot in
Wisdom adopt this plan of relief for us, we humbly &
earnestly request, that you would release us from bondage,
by such other ways or means, as to your Excellency &
Honours shall seem good and wise upon the whole.
And your Petitioners, as in duty bound shall ever
Pray --

31.8 cm x 20.2 cm

From the Jeremy Belknap papers