You may ask for freedom only if you live above reproach. That was the message to enslaved black people in the antebellum era. Freedom could never be an expectation, but a hope, an aspiration. It was something others possessed without measurement of their worth as individuals or as a people, but that blacks had to petition for, and that they had only a chance of achieving if their character was above that of the people who withheld freedom from them. The hypocrisy was unfair but was the standard.