TEXT

Petition of 1788 for the Abolition of Slavery in Connecticut, by Enslaved People of New Haven

This was one of many petitions submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly in 1788, appealing for enslaved people’s liberation.
Author
“Blacks of New Haven City”
Grade Level

This text is part of the Teaching Hard History Text Library and aligns with Key Concepts 3, 5 and 10.

Handed by The Blacks of New Haven City Well wishers of themsels and All mankind Our AddreSas 

To His Honour and to the Honourrabel  Genral Assembly  
Honoured gentle man will you pleaseto Lend an eyar to the pooer opprased Africas Blacks that ar now In the Chaine Bondage - Gentlemen please to give The Leave to Give a little Ider of the Crueailtis that we Poore Slaves have to enduir and undergo 

1ly gentlemen wee are Dragd from our native Country for Life lyis Cruil Slavirre Leving our mothers our farthers our Sisters and our Brothers is this humen pea[p]le 

 

2thly further morgentlemen after wee have Ben and fought the grandest Battles that has Ben fought in this War the greats part of us - We and our children and our Brothers ar takend By fose of vialince and carred  whear thay Suffer an Addisanl Sufrans wher wee ar Beaten and whealmed with Out Eni Cries or with eni Law Gentlemen will is this to Be Rite and justes is this a free contry No it murder 

 

3ly Gentelmen youwill freerLy allow us a human Bodys as a prssus Sole to Save and how shal we and how shal wee Ever oBtaine that entrest in Jesus Christ for the Lov of our pressh Soles when ar we to seek it when wee ar a grat me[ny] (?) of us reprived of going to the house Gods to at tend pubblick woship or much more larning us our A B or to reed the holy BiBle So as to  no the word of god 

 

4th Now gentlemen wee wold wish to act  awisely part and with a mile Temper and good Dispersisan but can we help but Beg for murcy in this accation Don[t] gentlemen think us impirtinent for asking this favor for the Lord bath saide ask and it Shal [be] given we that can live prary let you us Liv[e] 

 

5th Now gentelmen we would  wish  to say nomore apon thi[s] Subject all our wishes ar that your Honours wou[ld] grant us a Liberration wee are all Deturmand we Can to[il] As Long as thir is Labor we woul wish no more  to be in Sl[avery] to Sin Seene Christ is maid us free and nald our tanants to the Cross and Bought our Liberty 

Source
This text is in the public domain. Retrieved from http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/023.html.
Text Dependent Questions
Question
“[F]urther mor[e] gentlemen after wee have Be[e]n and fought the grandest Battles that has Be[e]n fought in this War ….” To what is this quote referring?
Answer
This refers to the War of Independence (American Revolution) from Great Britain.
Question
What are the authors implying about the enslaved and their rights in this section?
Answer
That being in a “free co[u]ntry” entitles them to rights, justice, and legal protections.
Question
“Is this a free co[u]ntry[?] No it [is] murder”. To what violent acts is this petition referring?
Answer
Being taken from their “native country”; separated from their families; taking “children” and “brothers” by force (fose) and violence (vialince); imposing suffering; beatings of the enslaved people.
Question
How do they use religion to support their argument?
Answer
Freedom is needed for the enslaved people to practice Christianity: to attend “pub[lic] wo[r]ship” and education to read the Bible. They also state that Jesus’ sacrifice “ma[de] us free” as it “bought our Liberty.”
Question
In the fifth section, the authors ask for freedom, but make what guarantee to the General Assembly? Why would they have made this statement?
Answer
That they will continue to work even if emancipated: “wee are all Det[ermi]nd we can to[il] As long as th[ere] is Labor”.
Answers may vary: This statement may have been included to assure enslavers and others in power that they would not lose freed enslaved people as laborers, thereby emancipation would not result in a large disruption of the economic system.