Massachusetts Blacks Petition the State Legislature
To the Honorable Council and House of Representatives in General Court assembled for
the State of Massachusetts Bay in New England, March 14, AD 1780.
The petition of several poor Negroes and Mulattos who are inhabitants of the town of
Dartmouth humbly sheweth:
That we being chiefly of the African extract and by reason of long bondage and hard
slavery we have been deprived of enjoying the profits of our labor or the advantage of
inheriting estates from our parents as our neighbors the white people do (having some of
us not long enjoyed our own freedom), and yet of late, contrary to the invariable custom
and practice of the country, we have been and now are taxed both in our polls and that
small pittance of estate which through much hard labor and industry we have got together
to sustain our selves and families withal.
We apprehend it therefore to be hard usage and doubtless will reduce us to beggary,
whereby we shall become a burden to others if not timely prevented by the interposition of
your justice and power.
And your petitioners further show that we apprehend ourselves to be aggrieved, in that
while we are not allowed the privilege of freemen of the state, having no vote or
influence in the election of those that tax us, yet many of our color (as is well known)
have cheerfully entered the field of battle in the defense of the common cause, and that
(as we conceive) against a similar exertion of power (in regard to taxation) too well
known to need a recital in this place.