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(1797) Abraham Johnstone, “Address To The People Of Color”


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In 1797 Abraham Johnstone, a former slave born in Delaware was convicted in Glocester County, New Jersey of murdering Thomas Read, another free African American and sentenced to be hanged. When the court asked for a statement from Johnstone after it announced his conviction, he gave the eloquent public discourse you see below. Although he neither admitted or denied his guilt, Johnstone did address what he called the special circumstances which placed him in court and destined him to the gallows. He also offered extensive advice to other African Americans on how to avoid his fate.


It is with a heart overflowing with love and humble hope in my God and Redeemer, and general benevolence, charity and good will to all

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