Source: Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Nathaniel Jennison, 1783, a decision
upholding the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts.
As to the doctrine of slavery and the right of Christians to hold Africans in perpetual
servitude, and sell and treat them as we do our horses and cattle, that (it is true) has been
[formerly] countenanced by the . . . laws . . . but . . . a different idea has taken place with
the people of America, more favorable to the natural rights of mankind, and to that natural,
innate desire of Liberty, with which Heaven (without regard to color, complexion, or shape
of noses) . . . has inspired all the human race. And upon this ground our . . . Government,
by which the people of this Commonwealth have solemnly bound themselves, sets out
with declaring that all men are born free and equal—and that every subject is entitled to
liberty, and to have it guarded by the laws, as well as life and property—and in short is
totally repugnant to the idea of being born slaves.