Life of Paul Cuffee

Topics: African American, Native Americans in the United States, United States Pages: 8 (3235 words) Published: October 12, 2013

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Life of Paul Cuffee
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Life of Paul Cuffee
More than for 500 years, people of African origin have shaped the course of not only American but the history of the whole world. We are proud of many African-Americans that had put so much hard work to make our society as good and developed as it is nowadays. There are lots of Blacks, who are very famous for their deeds and deserve to be remembered as honorable society members, such as Phyllis Wheatley, Benjamin Banneker, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Jacobs and others . The main objective of this paper will be the analyses of life and work of Paul Cuffee. Paul Cuffee was born on the 17th of January on Chuttyhunk Island in Southeastern Massachusetts, as a free child and a son of an African father and Native American mother. His father, named Kofi, was a member of the West-African tribe known as Ashanti tribe in Ghana. He was captured there and brought to America when he was ten. He was made a slave of Ebenezer Slocum, a Quaker of Dartmouth, Massachusetts, but the skills of good carpenter helped Kofi (Cuffe) to buy his freedom. He even managed to educate himself and later married to Ruth Moses, who was a Wampanoag Indian from Massachusetts. The Native Americans were not enslaved, so their children were born free. Paul did not want to take the name of his father's possessor and chose his father's name, which was Cuffe (or Cuffee). His family also owned a 116-acre farm in Westport, which was very rare at that time as most of the other African people were enslaved. The family was large and counted ten children: six daughters and four sons (“A Paul Cuffe Biography”). After the death of his father, Paul Cuffee, at the age of 16 and with the knowledge only of an alphabet, already had many ambitious dreams such as getting an education and having a career in shipping industry. The boy always showed a kinship to navigation, boatbuilding and trade. When he was a teenager he constructed small boats. This hobby ended in trading among the islands of Massachusetts (“Paul Cuffee (1759-1817)”, 2013). He started to do the job of an ordinary seaman on fishing and whaling boats – this was in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He was caught and held as a prisoner by British soldiers for three month during the Revolutionary War, but once he was released, he managed to start minor coastal trading. Paul bought some ships together with his sister’s husband Michael Wainer, who was a Native American. Because of his partner was afraid to sail big sea distances, in 1779 Cuffee tried to deliver the cargo to Nantucket alone, but he was waylaid by pirates. He continued to ship aboard a whaler owned by the Quaker merchants, prominent Rotch family and whalers of New Bedford. Despite the fact that pirates were very active those days and have attached the local sailors a lot, Paul’s business was prospering (“A Paul Cuffe Biography”). Cuffe’s business started to grow and he had enough money to built bigger vessels and successfully traded north to Labrador and south to Virginia (“Petition for Relief from Taxation”, 2013). Paul gathered rather big capital that helped him to expand his ownership and to get a fleet of ships. He commissioned the closed-deck boat, which could ship around 14-15 ton known as Box Iron. Just after that, another achievement that followed was a18-20 ton schooner. In the 1780s Paul already owned schooner Sun Fish and schooner Mary, which in total could transport cargo of approximately 65 tons. In 1796, just right after the mentioned schooners Sunfish and Mary were sold, Cuffee's shipyard in Westport launched a 69-ton schooner known as Ranger. Eventually he could afford to buy a large farmstead and in 1799 he bought property in Westport for $3,500. Later he bought a half of the 162-ton barque Hero. Paul was so wealthy, that he...

References: Paul Cuffee (1759-1817). (2013). Paul Cuffee School. Retrieved from
Petition for Relief from Taxation. (2013). Abstract. Pearson Education. Retrieved from
Cordeiro, B.N. (2004). Paul Cuffe: A Study of His Life and the Status of His Legacy in Old Dartmouth. Boston, MA: University of Massachusetts Boston. Retrieved from
History of Congress. (n.d.). A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 – 1875. The Library of Congress. Retrieved from
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