“In 1779, Prince Whipple and a small group of other New Hampshire slaves petitioned the state Legislature to free them.
Whipple eventually was freed by his owner, not the Legislature, which ignored the petition and did not ban slavery in New Hampshire until 1857. By then, census records showed no slaves remained in the state.
Now 230 years later, state Rep. David Watters wants New Hampshire to create a monument to acknowledge and commemorate New Hampshire’s slaves.
“There’s no public place we can acknowledge and recognize this history,” said Watters, D-Dover.
Watters’ bill would establish a commission to research the names and numbers of people enslaved in New Hampshire from 1645 to 1840, the year the last record of a slave was noted by a census-taker at B.G. Searle’s farm in Hollis.
The commission would designate a nonprofit organization to collect donations to pay for the monument. Watters believes the monument should be on or near the Statehouse complex, but will leave it to the commission to decide. The only state money Watters is requesting is for mileage for commission members to attend meetings.
“The state Legislature was the body responsible for laws that permitted slavery or finally ended it,” he said. “So, I think it is an issue of visibility in the state capitol.””