Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail
154 Market Street
The Moffatt-Ladd mansion is remembered as the home of Declaration of Independence signer and Revolutionary War general William Whipple, and his wife. It was also the home of their slaves. Among them was Prince, who joined 19 other African-born Portsmouth men in making their own bid for independence. On November 12, 1779 they submitted a petition to the New Hampshire State Legislature describing how they had been kidnapped from Africa as children. Invoking rationalist philosophy and Christian theology they pled for abolition. Bostonian slaves submitted three such petitions to their government. All were undoubtedly aware of a 1722 legal case in Britain that condemned the enslavement of baptized Christians, which was written up in New England newspapers and ignored by white Americans. The New Hampshire legislature agreed to consider the petition, but tabled it instead, and never abolished slavery. Owners made individual decisions about emancipation and many slaves were freed by 1800. A few remained enslaved in New Hampshire as late as 1840.
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Moffatt-Ladd photo courtesy Ralph Morang
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