Constitution of the Upper Beverly Anti-Slavery Society
The 1837 Constitution of the Upper Beverly (now North Beverly) Anti-Slavery Society states that its purpose is to free people of color from legal slavery, and to get rid of prejudice against any person based on the color of their skin, which was called “. . . corrupt public sentiment.”
Letter from Elihu Burritt to Israel Trask
Elihu Burritt (1810–1879) was a social reformer and early advocate of the abolition of slavery during the 19th century. He visited Beverly at least once, speaking at local anti-slavery societies. In this 1844 letter to Beverly businessman, Israel Trask, Mr. Burritt expresses his thanks for Trask’s support in the hard work of fighting slavery.
Anti-Slavery Activist Israel Trask
Before the Fugitive Slave Act was passed, there were many in the North who didn’t have an opinion of slavery. After the law passed, many felt they were being forced to support slavery. Some white people defied the law by helping runaways get to freedom. In Beverly, the story is told that Israel Trask, a local pewter maker who lived at 12 Thorndike Street, opened his home (seen here in an undated photograph) to runaway enslaved persons seeking refuge. Trask was active in the anti-slavery movement, and supported men and woman who fought to free the enslaved.
Beverly Women’s Anti-Slavery Society Petitions Congress
Starting in the early 1800s, abolitionists bombarded the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. with petitions to end slavery and the slave trade, especially in the District of Columbia where pro- and anti-slavery forces were locked in a fierce conflict.
In the 1840s, the Beverly Women’s Anti-Slavery Society was one of the abolitionist organizations who sent a petition to Congress asking that slavery be abolished and all human beings in the District of Columbia be declared free.
The Undersigned, women of Beverly, Mass., deeply convinced of the sinfulness of Slavery and keenly aggrieved by its existence in a part of our 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 to declare every human being free who sets foot upon its soil.”