“Felix” of Massachusetts Protests Enslavement
January 6, 1773
“A slave invokes the principles of “liberty” abroad in the Colonies”
Province of the Massachusetts Bay To His Excellency Thomas Hutchinson, Esq; Governor: To The Honorable His Majesty’s Council, and To the Honorable House of Representatives in General Court assembled at Boston, the 6th Day of January, 1773.
The humble PETITION of many slaves, living in the town of Boston, and other Towns in the Province is this namely
That your Excellency and Honors, and the Honorable the Representatives would be pleased to take their unhappy State and Condition under your wise and just Consideration.
We desire to bless God, who loves Mankind, who sent his Son to die for their Salvation, and who is no respecter of Persons; that he hath lately put it into the Hearts of Multitudes on both Sides of the Water, to bear our Burthens, some of whom……Men of great Note and influence….have pleaded our Cause with Arguments which we hope will have their weight with this Honorable Court.
We presume not to dictate to your Excellency and Honors, being willing to rest our Cause on your Humanity and Justice; yet would beg Leave to say a Word or two on the Subject.
Although some of the Negroes are vicious, (who doubtless may be punished and restrained by the same Laws which are in Force against other of the King’s Subjects) there are many others of a quite different Character, and who, if made free, would soon be able as well as willing to bear a Part in the Public Charges; many of them of good natural Parts, are discreet, sober, honest, and industrious; and may it not be said of many, that they are virtuous and religious, although their Condition is in itself so unfriendly to Religion, and every moral Virtue except Patience. How many of that Number have there been, and now are in this Province, who have had every Day of their Lives embittered with this most intolerable Reflection, That, let their Behavior be what it will, neither they, nor their Children to all Generations, shall ever be able to do, or to possess and enjoy any Thing, no, not even Life itself, but in a Manner as the Beasts that perish.
We have no Property! We have no Wives! No Children! We have no City! No Country! But we have a Father in Heaven, and we are determined…..as far as our degraded contemptuous Life will admit, to keep all his Commandments: Especially will we be obedient to our Masters, so long as God in his sovereign Providence shall suffer us to be holden in Bondage.
It would be impudent, if not presumptuous in us, to suggest to your Excellency and Honors any Law or Laws proper to be made, in relation to our unhappy State, which, although our greatest Unhappiness, is not our Fault; and this gives us great Encouragement to pray and hope for such Relief as is consistent with your Wisdom, Justice, and Goodness.
We think Ourselves very happy, that we may thus address the Great and General Court of this Province…..the best Judge, under God, of what is wise, just and good.
We humbly beg Leave to add but this one Thing more: We pray for such Relief only, which by no Possibility can ever be productive of the least Wrong or Injury to our Masters, but to us will be as Life from the dead.
Article taken from The Negro Heritage Library: The Winding Road to Freedom (1965)
A Documentary Survey of Negro Experiences in America
Edited by Alfred E. Cain
Note: all articles are typed verbatim – exactly as printed in the book.