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updated: 6/7/2013 1:14 PM

234 years later, NH slaves are granted freedom

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Associated Press

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. -- New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan has signed a bill she says addresses a deep source of shame and reaffirms the message that freedom is an inherent right.

Hassan signed a bill in Portsmouth on Friday that emancipates 14 slaves who petitioned for their freedom in 1779, during the Revolutionary War.

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Supporters say it will help bring attention to an African-American burial ground in Portsmouth, where the city is raising money to build a memorial park. The remains of six African slaves were discovered there several years ago.

Valerie Cunningham wrote a history of slavery in Portsmouth. She says the law is symbolic but hopes it will remind residents of all the other people once enslaved in New Hampshire and inspire people to fight for social justice.

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