- In 1783, Belinda Sutton, a former slave of wealthy Harvard benefactor Isaac Royall, petitioned Massachusetts for reparations, illuminating what many historians see as the long-running reparations battle that continues today.
- Between the university’s founding in 1636 and the end of slavery in the Commonwealth in 1783, Harvard’s faculty, staff, and leaders enslaved more than 70 people.
- The Royall family generated a considerable part of their wealth on a plantation on the Caribbean island of Antigua.
Near the end of the American Revolution, Belinda Sutton recounted how slavers took her from her parents around 12 o’clock in an African shrine. Grove, transported her across the Atlantic Ocean and linked her to Harvard benefactor Isaac Royall, Jr.
Sutton, by then a free woman, shared her story as part of a 1783 petition for redress in the Massachusetts General Court after decades of “ignoble servitude.”