Back Lancaster Hill, Peter Bess, Brister Slenser, Prince Hall, et al. — “The natural right of all Men—& their Children”
The top of the copy of the 1777 petition in the Massachusetts Archives Collection. The documents and transcriptions in the collection were gathered into 241 scrapbook volumes between 1837 and 1846 by the Rev. Joseph Barlow Felt.

This year, for our Independence Day Story of the Week selection, we presented a petition submitted in January 1777 by eight African American men to the Massachusetts government, in which they proclaimed their “natural and unalienable right” to the freedom enjoyed by “all other Men.”

The document is one of 200 eighteenth-century texts collected in the forthcoming Library of America volume Black Writers of the Founding Era, edited by James G. Basker, which has been in preparation for over a year and is currently scheduled for release in Fall 2021.

Read “The natural right of all Men—& their Children” by Lancaster Hill, Peter Bess, Brister Slenser, Prince Hall, et al.

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