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America's History in the Making

Resource Archive: Search Results

August The Forth 1723

to the Right Raverrand father in god my Lord arch Bishop of Lonnd . . .

this coms to sattesfie your honour that there is in this Land of verJennia a Sort of people that is Calld molatters which are Baptised and brouaht up in the way of the Christian faith and followes the ways and Rulles of the Chrch of England and sum of them has white fathars and sum white mothers and there is in this Land a Law or act which keeps and makes them and there seed Slaves forever . . .

wee your humbell and poore partishinners doo begg Sir your aid and assisttancce in this one thing . . . which is that your honour will by the help of our Sufvering [i.e., sovereign] Lord King George and the Rest of the Rullers will Releese us out of this Cruell Bondegg . . . /and here it is to bee notd that one brother is a Slave to another and one Sister to an othe which is quite out of the way and as for mee my selfe I am my brothers Slave but my name is Secrett/

wee are commandded to keep holey the Sabbath day and wee doo hardly know when it comes for our task mastrs are has hard with us as the Egypttions was with the Chilldann of Issarall . . . wee are kept out of the Church and matrimony is deenied us and to be plain they doo Look no more upon us then if wee ware dogs which I hope when these Strange lines comes to your Lord Ships hands will be Looket in to . . .

And Sir wee your humble perticners do humblly beg . . . that our childarn may be broatt up in the way of the Christtian faith and our desire is that they may be Larnd the Lords prayer the creed and the ten commandements and that they may appeare Every Lord’s day att Church before the Curatt to bee Exammond for our desire is that godllines Shoulld abbound amongs us and wee desire that our Childarn be putt to Scool and Larnd to Reed through the Bybell My Riting is vary bad . . . I am but a poore Slave that writt itt and has no other time butt Sunday and hardly that att Sumtimes . . . wee dare nott Subscribe any mans name to this for feare of our masters for if they knew that wee have Sent home to your honour wee Should goo neare to Swing upon the gallass tree.

Thomas N. Ingersoll, "Releese Us out of This Cruell Bondegg: An Appeal from Virginia in 1723" William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 51 (october 1994): 776-82.

Creator Several North American slaves
Context Slavery was spreading across North America.
Audience Edmund Gibson the Bishop of London
Purpose To attain freedom

Historical Significance

Southern slave owners tried to make slavery a complete institution, one that kidnapped Africans and their descendants could not hope to escape.

Yet, these slaves desired and sometimes pursued freedom, although only a small proportion could read and write. This letter was written in 1723 by several mixed-race Christian slaves to the bishop of London, who had oversight over Anglican parishes in America. Bishop Gibson did not respond to the letter.

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