Petition of Moses Pocknet and Other Mashpee Indians to the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court Assembled
May it please Your Honors to hear the humble petition of your poor servants and humble petitioners, blacks of the Plantation of Mashpee
We have often tired your patience with our petitions but have not obtained our request as yet. But we cannot be willing to give up our requests when we realize that we live in a land of liberty and that many of us have faced your and our enemy to obtain liberty and we are yet held in bondage or the worst of bondage. We ask for liberty for this reason, that our rulers are men that live a distance from us and their expenses are very high for their service and all the incomes of the plantation is run to charge. We are obliged to give one quarter of what cord wood we cut in to the treasury, all our meadow if hired out, excepting one load to them that have any stock of cattle and the remainder goes into the treasury. Much wood is sold to strangers and turned into the treasury and much of our cleared land is hired out and all goes into the treasury and still the plantation is in debt.
We humbly beg that all guardians may be removed and that we have our liberty to choose our overseers as we had in the year 1784, that was to choose our overseers, two men of our neighbors of white men every year, of those we see fit, that our expense may be lessened and that we may have the privilege of using the liberty with our neighbors which we obtained with them. It is represented that there is needless expenses that is made by our rulers on mistake or fraud which we humbly beg may be seen into.
In the year November 1807 there was a balance in favor of the plantation in the treasury of six hundred dollars and since that, with all that is sold and rented, makes a considerable sum to be added to the above sum and it is all expended and the plantation considerable in debt. We beg that the matter may be called up to know how our money has been spent and that the Honorable John Davis, Esq. of Barnstable, Mr. Samuel Ever, late Treasurer of the Plantation of Mashpee, and Thomas H. Tobey, the two last of Sandwich. Furthermore, may it please the Honorable Court that these men give in what they know relative to the matter.
We will conclude with begging to be heard in this, our petition, and be released from our oppression by removing all guardians and that we have our privilege of choosing our own officers as our neighbors and be ruled by civil laws as others, that is to choose three men of our white neighbors, one to be our treasurer, the others for our overseers, and to choose them yearly. This is the desire and prayer of your humble petitioner in witness whereof we hereunto set our hands
January 28, 1811