1837 Petition from 49 female members of the Trinitarian Congregational Church in Wayland.
TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES:
The undersigned, women of Wayland Massachusetts deeply convinced of the sinfulness of Slavery, and keenly aggrieved by its existence in a part of the country over which Congress possesses exclusive jurisdiction in all cases whatsoever, do most earnestly petition your honorable body immediately to abolish Slavery in the District of Columbia, and also to put an end to the slave-trade in the United States.
We also respectfully announce our intention, to present the same petition, yearly, before your honorable body, that it may at least be a ‘memorial of us,’ that in the holy cause of Human Freed, ‘We have done what we could.’
Signed by 49 women*
“Copied from the Adams Papers, Letters Received, reel #507.
Endorsed by John Quincy Adams “Hyde A.B. 1. Septr 1837. Wayland 5 Septr 1837 recd with Pet. Of Ladies”.
John Quincy Adams, Ex-President, was then serving as a Member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts.
(Printed form with town and state written in the blank spaces with signatures following.)
Note: First signature was Susannah Grout. Her brother William was active in the Unitarian Church. The division in 1828 divided many families, including the Drapers as well. However, these two churches were not divided on the issue of opposing slavery.
The minister in 1837 was Lavius Hyde. His name is not included, but he is considered the force behind this petition. At this time in American history John Quincy Adams was in the House of Representatives and fought against the “Gag Rule” which prohibited petitions against slavery (After 8 years he succeeded in repealing it). Adams encouraged his Mass. constituents to send petitions, and Rev. Hyde and his wife Abby are listed as originators of petitions against slavery in Arkansas (1836) , Texas (1837 & 1845) as well as DC (1837 above). Rev. Hyde and 33 Waylanders signed their names against slavery and the slave trade in 1837. One undesignated petitions of Sudbury women have dates of 1837 and 1839. Rev. Hyde was a diligent and enthusiastic fighter against slavery. He was dismissed as minister in 1841 but there is no reason to think this was because of his anti-slavery position. As noted above, a Texas petition was sent by the same church after his departure.