Petition of 1788 by slaves of New Haven
for the abolition of slavery in Connecticut
Handed by The Blacks of New Haven City Well wishers of themsels and All mankind Our AddreSas
To His Honour and to the Honourrabel
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
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
Gentelmen youwill freerLy allow us a human Bodys anve (?) 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 C A B or to reed the holy BiBle So as to no the word of god
Now gentlemen wee wold wish to act a wisely 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]
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
This petition is found in Revolutionary War papers, series 1, volume 37, document 251. It was edited by Vincent J. Rosivach in "Three Petitions by Connecticut Negroes for the Abolition of Slavery in Connecticut," Connecticut Review, Volume XVII, no. 2 (Fall, 1995), 79-92. While the petitioners are Blacks from New Haven, Connecticut, we do not know their number or identify. While the General Assembly received this petition, we have no evidence it was ever acted upon.
The exterior notation, "Negroes Memorial Octr 1788" apparently indicates when it was bound in the Revolutionary War series, but it was produced after the 1784 legislation that slaves born after 1 May, 1784, would be treated as indentured servants and emancipated by age twenty five. According to Rosivach, the writing of the petition suggests that the 1784 legislation proved to be unsatisfactory.