Archaeology Magazine

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New Hampshire Emancipates 18th-Century Slaves

Friday, June 07, 2013

PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE—Governor Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire has signed a bill emancipating 14 enslaved African Americans who petitioned the New Hampshire General Assembly in 1779 for their freedom. They had fought in the Revolutionary War and wrote that “public tyranny and slavery are alike detestable to minds conscious of the equal dignity of human nature.” The petition, which was discovered in the state’s archives 30 years ago, was brought forward to bring attention to an African-American burial ground that was uncovered in downtown Portsmouth. Excerpts from the petition will be engraved on stone as part of a memorial park at the site.