Sunday April 21, 2013

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Two centuries ago, colonial-era New Hampshire lawmakers decided the time wasn't right to grant the request of 20 African-American slaves who petitioned for their freedom.

On Wednesday, the House is poised to posthumously pass a bill that emancipates 14 of those slaves who died in bondage. Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she will sign the bill.

Supporters say acting now would help bring attention to an African-American burial ground in downtown Portsmouth, where the city is raising money to build a memorial park to commemorating the site. The remains of six African slaves were discovered at the site several years ago during routine street improvements.

The petition was originally submitted to the New Hampshire General Assembly on Nov. 12, 1779.