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Captain Paul Cuffe Logs and Letters - Book

Captain Paul Cuffe Logs and Letters - Book

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While his name is familiar to Friends, most know little about Paul Cuffe - shipbuilder, merchantman, man of faith. He was one of the few black Quakers in the early 1800s and an important figure in American trade history.

In Captain Paul Cuffe's Logs and Letters, editor Rosalind Wiggins has collected Cuffe's correspondence and ship's logs, written between 1808 and 1817. She presents original manuscripts that tell the story of Cuffe's efforts to undercut the slave trade by forming a trading cooperative in Sierra Leone, thus linking the United States, England, and small West African nations.

Wiggins discusses the insurmountable obstacles Cuffe faced: the War of 1812, a trade embargo, and increased power of slave traders among others; the widespread network of African-American organizations that provided help; the deep concern for education within the black community; and the strength of the church in that community.

This presentation of original source documents contributes to scholars' views of the activities of free blacks before the Civil War and forms a significant addition to existing biographical information about Paul Cuffe. Editor Wiggins reveals Cuffe's story in his own words, preserving spelling and punctuation of a self-educated man who wrote in a time when phonetic spelling was still acceptable. Yet one quickly begins to "hear" the inflection of his speech and understands its meaning.

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