In 1783, owning slaves was effectively outlawed in Massachusetts when the courts refused to recognize the right to hold slaves under the ground-breaking Massachusetts Constitution of 1780.
There is more about Andover’s slavery, and not much on the sparse records suggests harsh treatment, but who really knows? There is no question that Andover’s abolitionists from the 1830s to the Civil War were a strong, cohesive group, and churches split up over the issue. Before the Civil War at least one Phillips Academy student was expelled for holding abolitionist views, for which he was willing to fight, but the school thought he should be studying instead; however, it wouldn’t be long until town and Phillips boys were giving freely their blood in the American Civil War.
Bill Dalton writes a weekly column for the Andover Townsman. His email address is BillDalton@AndoverTownie.com