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Slavery existed throughout the North American colonies before and immediately following the American Revolution. Although slaveholding patterns differed from colony to colony and region to region, few if any colonists challenged the practice and its underlying beliefs. Slaves made up about four per cent of the population of 18th century New England. Those who owned them generally held one or two "negroe servants" in bondage. Slaves often worked alongside their masters and mistresses and resided in the same house but they were not considered equal household members. Even in church, slaves sat separately from the rest of the congregation. New slaveholders often preferred to purchase children rather than teenagers or adults. Prince was about nine years old when he became the property of Israel Williams. Slave owners believed that slave children would learn English more easily, adapt more quickly and develop stronger loyalties to a master and his family. This bill of sale records the transaction that made young Prince the "Servant for life" of Williams.

 

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Bill of sale for slave named Prince

creator   Ephraim Williams, Jr. (1715-1755)
date   Sep 25, 1750
location   Hatfield, Massachusetts
width   8.0"
height   5.5"
process/materials   manuscript, paper, ink
item type   Legal Documents/Invoice
accession #   #L00.074


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Bill of sale for slave named Prince


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