The Benjamin Barron House was built in 1716 in Concord, Mass.
Along with the property next door, this house is a rare survivor of a house/shop arrangement once prevalent along historic Lexington Road.
Barron was the owner of Concord’s best-known slave, John Jack, who bought his freedom as a shoemaker. The signage on the house reads:
“This house was built here by Benjamin Barron before the birth of this Nation on a parcel of land previously owned by William Baker. It was considered an old house as it stood a mute witness to the march of the British soldiers on that fateful day in 1775. Here the slave John Jack earned his freedom as a shoemaker. His epitaph in the Old Hill Burying Ground is world famous.”
Jack’s epitaph is quite poignant, and reads as follows:
God wills us free; man wills us slaves.
I will as God wills; God’s will be done.
Here lies the body of
a native of Africa who died
March 1773 aged about 60 years
Tho’ born in a land of slavery,
He was born free.
Tho’ he lived in a land of liberty,
He lived a slave.
Till by his honest, tho’ stolen labors,
He acquired the source of slavery,
Which gave him his freedom;
Tho’ not long before
Death, the grand tyrant
Gave him his final emancipation,
And set him on a footing with kings.
Tho’ a slave to vice,
He practised those virtues
Without which kings are but slaves.
Next time I’m in Concord I’m going to find this gravestone and add it to this post. I need to see it in person.