Prince Hall Advocates for the Abolition of Slavery (1797) Primary Source Document

Prince Hall addresses the African Masonic Lodge in Cambridge, Massachusetts to advocate for the abolition of slavery in the United States,  including the extension of civil rights to Free African Americans.

Click on link below to download primary source document: Prince Hall Speaks To The African Lodge


“It is now five years since I delivered a charge to you on some parts and points of masonry. As one branch or superstructure of the foundation, I endeavored to show you the duty of a mason to a mason, and of charity and love to all mankind, as the work and image of the great God and the Father of the human race. I shall now attempt to show you that it is our duty to sympathise with our fellow-men under their troubles, and with the families of our brethren who are gone, we hope, to the Grand Lodge above…..

My brethren, let us not be cast down under these and many other abuses we at present are laboring under,—for the darkest hour is just before the break of day. My brethren, let us remember what a dark day it was with our African brethren, six years ago, in the French West Indies. Nothing but the snap of the whip was heard, from morning to evening. Hanging, breaking on the wheel, burning, and all manner of tortures, were inflicted on those unhappy people. But, blessed be God, the scene is changed. They now confess that God hath no respect of persons, and therefore, receive them as their friends, and treat them as brothers. Thus doth Ethiopia stretch forth her hand from slavery, to freedom and equality.”

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Slavery Distribution in Southern States Prior to the U.S. Civil War

Slavery Distribution in Southern States Prior to U.S. Civil War


Link to Slavery map located at Library of Congress site.


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“Slavers” for New England Girls (1846) Primary Source Document Activity

Primary Source Account of Textile Girls in the Mid 19th Century:

We were not aware, until within a few days, of the modus operandi of the factory powers in this village of forcing poor girls from their quiet homes to become their tools and, like the Southern Slaves, to give up their life and liberty to the heartless tyrants and taskmasters.

Observing a singular-looking “long, low, black” wagon passing along the street, we made inquiries respecting it, and were informed that it was what we term a “slaver.”  She makes regular trips to the north of the state [Massachusetts], cruising around in Vermont and New Hampshire, with a “commander’ whose heart must be as black as his craft, who is paid a dollar a head for all he brings in to the market, and more in proportion to the distance – if they bring them from such a distance that they cannot easily get back. 

            This is done by “hoisting false colors,” and representing to the girls that they can tend more machinery than is possible, and that the work is so very neat, and the wages such that they can dress in silks and spend half their time in reading.  Now, is this true?  Let those girls who have been thus deceived, answer.

            Let us say a word in regard to the manner in which they are stowed in the wagon, which may find a similarity only in the manner in which slaves are fastened in the hold of a vessel.  It is long, and the seats so close that it must be very inconvenient.

            Is there any humanity in this?  Philanthropists may talk of Negro slavery, but it would be well first to endeavor to emancipate the slaves at home.  Let us not stretch our ears to catch the sound of the lash on the flesh of the oppressed black while the oppressed in our very midst are crying out in thunder tones, and calling upon us for assistance.

Click on the link below to download the primary source document with analysis prompt.

us history primary source activity slavers for new england textile girls

Posted in Gilded Age & Industrial Revolution Era, Market Revolution, U.S. History | Leave a comment

The Coming of the Irish (1836) Primary Source Document Activity

Primary Source Document: Account by Charles J. Latrobe (1836) a writer sharing his observations of the Irish Immigration experience in America.

Here comes a shipload of Irish. They land upon the wharfs of New York in rags and open-knee’d reeches, with their raw looks and bare necks. They flourish their cudgels, throw up their torn hats, and cry, “Hurrah for Gineral Jackson!” They get drunk and kick up a row, lend their forces to any passing disturbance, and make early acquaintance with the interior of the lock-ups [jails].

From New York they go in swarms to the canals, railroads, and public works, where they perform that labor which the Americans are not inclined to do. Now and then they get up a fight among themselves in the style of old Ireland, and perhaps kill one another, expressing great indignation and surprise when they find that they must answer for it though they are in a free country. By degrees, the more thrifty get and keep money, and diving deeper into the continent, purchase lands; while the intemperate and irreclaimable vanish from the surface.

The Americans complain, and justly, of the disorderly population which Ireland throws into the bosom of the Union, but there are many reasons why they should be borne with. They, with the poor Germans, do the work which without them could hardly be done. Though the fathers may be irreclaimable, the children become good citizens—and there is no finer race in the world, both for powers of mind and body, than the Irish, when favored by education and under proper control.

In one thing the emigrant Irish of every class distinguish themselves above the people of other nations, and that is in the love and kindly feeling which they cherish towards their native land, and towards those whom they have left behind—a fact proved by the large sums which are yearly transmitted from them to the mother country, in aid of their poverty stricken relatives.

Click on the link below to download the primary source document with reading analysis questions: us history primary source activity coming of the irish

Posted in Gilded Age & Industrial Revolution Era, Market Revolution | Leave a comment

Indenture Contract (Primary Source Analysis)

Click on link below to download the primary source image:

Activity: In pairs, or small groups, “What Do You See?” Students analyze and evaluate the indentured service contract.

indentured servant contract

Posted in Exploration and Colonization, U.S. History | Leave a comment

John Rolfe on his Marriage to Pocahontas (Primary Source Activity) 1614

John Rolfe on his decision to marry Pocahontas, in a letter to

Sir Thomas Dale, governor of Virginia, 1614.

Let therefore this my well advised protestation . . . condemn me herein, if my chiefest intent and purpose be not, to strive with all my power of body and mind, in the undertaking of so mighty a matter, no way led (so far forth as man’s weakness may permit) with the unbridled desire of carnal affection: but for the good of this plantation, for the honour of our country, for the glory of God, for my own salvation, and for the converting to the true knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, an unbelieving creature, namely Pokahuntas. . . .

Shall I be of so untoward a disposition, as to refuse to lead the blind into the right way? Shall I be so unnatural, as not to give bread to the hungry? or uncharitable, as not to cover the naked? Shall I despise to actuate these pious duties of a Christian? Shall the base fears of displeasing the world, overpower and withhold me from revealing unto man these spiritual works of the Lord, which in my meditations and prayers, I have daily made known unto him? God forbid. . . .

Now if the vulgar sort, who square all men’s actions by the base rule of their own filthiness, shall tax or taunt me in this my godly labour: let them know, it is not any hungry appetite, to gorge my self with incontinency; sure (if I would, and were so sensually inclined) I might satisfy such desire, though not without a seared conscience, yet with Christians more pleasing to the eye, and less fearful in the offence unlawfully committed.

Click on the link below to download the primary source activity:

John Rolfe Pocahontas Marriage Primary Source Activity

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Chief Pontiac Critical of European Colonization (Primary Source Activity) 1763

Pontiac, an Ottawa chief, voicing the proclamation sof the “Master of Life,” 1763

I am the Master of Life, whom thou desirest to know and to whom thou wouldst speak. Listen well to what I am going to say to thee and all thy red brethren. I am he who made heaven and earth, the trees, lakes, rivers, all men, and all that thou seest, and all that thou hast seen on earth. Because . . . I love you, you must do what I say and [not do] what I hate. I do not like that you drink until you lose your reason, as you do; or that you fight with each other; or that you take two wives, or run after the wives of others; you do not well; I hate that. You must have but one wife, and keep her until death. When you are going to war, you juggle, join the medicine dance, and believe that I am speaking. You are mistaken, it is to Manitou to whom you speak; he is a bad spirit who whispers to you nothing but evil, and to whom you listen because you do not know me well. This land, where you live, I have made for you and not for others. How comes it that you suffer the whites on your lands? Can you not do without them? I know that those whom you call the children of your Great Father supply your wants, but if you were not bad, as you are, you would well do without them. You might live wholly as you did before you knew them. Before those whom you call your brothers come on your lands, did you not live by bow and arrow? You had no need of gun nor powder, nor the rest of their things, and nevertheless you caught animals to live and clothe yourselves with their skins, but when I saw that you inclined to the evil, I called back the animals into the depths of the woods, so that you had need of your brothers to have your wants supplied and I shall send back to you the animals to live on. I do not forbid you, for all that, to suffer amongst you the children of your father. I love them, they know me and pray to me, and I give them their necessities and all that they bring to you, but as regards those who have come to trouble your country, drive them out, make war on them. I love them not, they know me not, they are my enemies and the enemies of your brothers. Send them back to the country which I made for them. There let them remain.

Click on the link below to download writing prompt activity:

chief pontiac primary source activity

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