Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Slavery and the Massachusetts Constitution

We did some research regarding a question about involuntary servitude and the Massachusetts Constitution.

The 13th amendment in the U.S. Constitution outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude.

The Massachusetts Constitution never outlawed slavery but Article One of the Declaration of Rights says: “Article I. All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness. [Annulled by Amendments, Art. CVI.]”

This quotation is from the Massachusetts General Court’s website.

There is a website that has slavery abolition dates for the states.

This is what it says about the State of Massachusetts:
“Massachusetts - The constitution of 1780’s case law abolish slavery in 1781. The constitution of 1780 was never actually amended to prohibit slavery…. The Massachusetts Legislature did debate…but choose to do nothing understanding public opinion as being strongly anti-slavery.”

-Naomi Allen, Reference Librarian