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New England bills of sale and other legal records often referred to slaves as "servants" or "servants for life". In contrast, this bill of sale starkly spelled out the slave status of sixteen-year-old J. Romanoo. John Charles of Brimfield, Massachusetts, sold Romanoo to Major Ephraim Williams of Hatfield "as his & their Slave, during the natural life of the sd. Jromanoo?" Charles further stated that Romanoo would remain a slave "against the claim and challenge of any other person, and all Rightful Pretentions of his own, to Freedom, by any Law or right whatsoever." Slavery was never officially outlawed in Massachusetts, but rather gradually disappeared when a series of court cases ruled the practice unconstitutional according to the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 that declared all men to be "born free and equal."


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Bill of sale for slave J. Romanoo

creator   John Charles, Jr.
date   Feb 13, 1755
location   Hatfield, Massachusetts
width   7.75"
height   12.25"
process/materials   manuscript, paper, ink
item type   Legal Documents/Invoice
accession #   #L00.075

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