How an Ex-Slave Successfully Won a Case for Reparations in 1783

In one of the earliest examples of reparations, an ex-slave named Belinda petitioned the government and was granted an annuity.

By: Matthew Wills

On February 14, 1783, an elderly ex-slave known only as Belinda submitted a petition to the Massachusetts legislature. She asked for an annual pension for herself and her invalid daughter, Prine, to be paid from the estate of their former owner, Isaac Royall. Royall had been one of the largest slave owners in the colony before he had fled to England in 1775. Because he turned out to be a royalist, his estate was confiscated and his two dozen slaves were manumitted (there’s some speculation as to whether some were sold, including Belinda’s son Joseph). Belinda was a slave under Royall for four decades and was old and penniless when she finally gained her freedom.

Former slave Belinda's petition for reparations.
Former slave Belinda’s petition for reparations
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Her petition is one of the earliest examples of reparations for the slave trade and slavery, Roy E. Finkenbine reported.  Read more HERE.