The American War for Independence raised questions about the future of slavery in Massachusetts. From the very beginning of the revolutionary crisis, patriots argued that their "natural rights" were violated by Parliament's revenue generating policies. Eventually, Thomas Jefferson inscribed those ideas into the Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."
Those same ideals were on John Adams' mind in 1780, when he drafted the constitution for the new Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In this document, Adams wrote:
"All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties.”