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INGENIOUS EPITAPH.

Lately copied from a Tomb Stone, in
the burying place of Concord,
Massachusetts.

GOD
Wills us Free;
MAN
Wills us Slaves;
I will as GOD wills-
GOD's will be done!
Here lies the Body of JOHN JACK, a
native of Africa, who died March
1773, aged about sixty years.
Though born in a land of Slaves,
He was born Free;
Though he lived in a land of Liberty,
He lived a Slave-
Till by his honest, though stolen labours,
He acquired the Source of Slavery,
Which gave him his Freedom:-
Though not long before,
DEATH,
The GRAND TYRANT of all,
Gave him his final Emancipation,
And set him on a level with Kings.
Thought a Slave to VICE,
He practised those VIRTUES,
without which,
KINGS are but SLAVES.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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The slave John Jack died in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1773 but in 1796, more than 20 years after his death, his epitaph appeared in the a Greenfield, Massachusetts, newspaper. Why might this be? The turn of the 18th into the 19th century was a time of social reform when some were rethinking whether the promises of the American Revolution- especially liberty and equality for all, had been realized. The epitaph's emphasis on slaves and kings being on an equal plane in the eyes of God must have had renewed resonance.

 

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"Ingenious Epitaph" a poem from Greenfield Gazette newspaper

publisher   Greenfield Gazette
date   Sep 22, 1796
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   6.0"
width   3.5"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L12.005


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See Also...

Article by Pompey on President Jefferson in the Greenfield Gazette reprinted from the Massachusetts Spy newspaper

"Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral"

"A Study of Gravestones in the Old Cemetery at Deerfield"


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