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Sierra Leone

Cuffe, Paul, Sr. (1759-1817)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Paul Cuffe is best known for his work in assisting free blacks who wanted to emigrate to Sierra Leone.  Cuffe was born free on Cuttyhunk Island, Massachusetts (near New Bedford) sometime around 1759. The exact date of his birth is unknown. He was the youngest of ten children. His father, Kofi (also known as Cuffe Slocum), was from the Ashanti Empire in West Africa. Kofi was captured, enslaved and brought to New England at the age of 10. Paul's mother, Ruth Moses, was Native American. Kofi, a skilled tradesman who was able to earn his freedom, died when Paul Cuffe was a teenager. The younger Cuffe refused to use the name Slocum, which his father had been given by his owner, and instead took his father's first name.
Sources: 
Sheldon H. Harris, Paul Cuffe, Black America and the African Return (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
East Tennessee State University

Cuffe, Paul, Jr. (?-?)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Paul Cuffe was born into a Pequot family that had intermarried with freed or escaped slaves in New England. His father, Paul Cuffe, Sr., became known for his attempt to begin an African American colony in Sierra Leone.  Paul Cuffe, Jr., made his living as a whaling harpooner and probably came to know Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick and other works.  It is probable that Melville modeled his character Queequeg, the aboriginal harpooner, after the younger Cuffe.
Sources: 
Bruce E. Johansen and Donald A. Grinde, Jr., The Encyclopedia of Native American Biography (New York: Da Capo Press, 1997).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
State University of New York, Buffalo

Washington, Henry (ca. 1740-post 1801)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History
Henry Washington, slave, loyalist, and colonizer, was born in Africa, perhaps in the Senegambia. Transported as a slave to America, he was bought by George Washington in 1763 to work on a project for draining the Great Dismal Swamp.  By 1766, he was living at Mount Vernon, caring for Washington’s horses.  Briefly a runaway in 1771, he fled again in 1776 to join royal Virginia governor Lord Dunmore’s Ethiopian Regiment of freed slaves.
Sources: 
Cassandra Pybus, Epic Journeys of Freedom: Runaway Slaves of the American Revolution and their Global Quest for Liberty(Boston: Beacon Press, 2006); Ellen Gibson Wilson, The Loyal Blacks (New York: Capricorn Books, 1976).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Coker, Daniel (1780-1846)

Vignette Type: 
People
History Type: 
African American History

 

Image Ownership: Public Domain

Daniel Coker (born Isaac Wright) was a writer, activist, and a founder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church who eventually emigrated from the United States to Sierra Leone as a missionary and colonist. Coker was born in 1780 in either Baltimore County or Frederick County, Maryland to Susan Coker, a white indentured servant, and Edward Wright, a slave father. He was raised in a household with his white half-brothers from his mother’s previous marriage and was allowed to attend the local school as their valet. While still in school he fled to New York where he changed his name to Daniel Coker and was ordained a Methodist minister.

Upon secretly returning to Maryland, Coker’s friends helped him purchase his freedom which gave him the rare opportunity to boldly speak out against the institution of slavery as well as participate in activities not usually open to black Americans at the time. He began both teaching and preaching in the Baltimore area.  Responding to racial discrimination in the Methodist Church, Coker called upon African American Methodists to withdraw from the white-dominated church and establish their own organization. Unable to recruit enough parishioners from the Sharp Street Church where he worked, Coker and others who advocated his separatist ideals broke from the congregation to form the African Bethel Church, which later became Bethel A.M.E Church.

Sources: 
Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston, eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: W. W. Norton, 1982); http://www.genealogyforum.rootsweb.com/gfaol/resource/AfricanAm/Coker.htm; http://www.ame-church.com/index.php.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington

Hayford, Adelaide Smith Casely (1868-1960)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Adelaide Smith Casely Hayford in 1903
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Adelaide Smith Casely Hayford was a Victorian feminist who dedicated her life to the education of girls in Sierra Leone.  Born on June 2, 1868 in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Casely Hayford was the second youngest of seven children of parents William Smith Jr. and Anne Spilsbury.  Her prosperous, educated family was part of the Freetown Creole elite.  When Adelaide was four years old her family moved to England where she was raised and educated.  Her mother died soon afterwards.  Raised by her father, Hayford excelled in her studies.  When she turned 17 she was sent to Germany to study music.  In 1888 Casely Hayford moved back to England where she joined her father and new English stepmother.  In 1892, 24-year-old Hayford moved to Freetown to try teaching as a career.  This experience gave her an opportunity to study the education systems in West Africa. 

Sources: 

Cromwell, Adelaide M., An African American Feminist: The Life and Times of Adelaide Smith Casely Hayford, 1868-1960 (London: Frank Cass & Co. LTD., 1986); Desai, Gaurav, “Gendered Self-Fashioning: Adelaide Casely Hayford’s Black Atlantic,” Research in African Literatures 35:3 (Fall 2004).

Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Recaptives

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Freetown, Sierra Leone, 1803
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Sources: 
Sir Reginald Coupland, The British Anti-Slavery Movement, (Frank Cass & Co. Ltd., London, 1933); Adam Jones, From Slaves to Palm Kernals: A history of the Galinhas Country (West Africa) 1730-1890,  (Frank Steiner Verlag GMBH, Wiesbaden, 1983); Frank J. Klingberg, The Anti-Slavery Movement in England: A study on English Humanitarianism, (Yale University Press, 1926).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Sussex, England

George, David (1742-1810)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Artist Drawing of the Silver Bluff
Sources: 
Simon Schama, Rough Crossings ( Toronto: Penguin Group, 2005); Walter H. Brooks, The Silver Bluff Church: A History of Negro Baptist Churches in America (Washington, D.C.: Press of R. L. Pendleton, 1910) http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/brooks/brooks.html; http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2p30.html; James St G. Walker, The Black Loyalists: The Search for a Promised Land in Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone, 1783-1870 (New York: Africana Publishing Co., 1976); Robin W. Winks, The Blacks in Canada: A History, 2nd ed. (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1997); Pearleen Oliver, A Brief History of the Coloured Baptists of Nova Scotia (Halifax, N.S.: s.n., 1953).
Contributor: 

Fourah Bay College (1827- )

Entry Type: 
Institutions
History Type: 
Global African History
On February 16, 1827, The Church Missionary Society (CMS) founded Fourah Bay College, the first college in West Africa.  The first principal of the college was Rev. Edward Jones, an African American minister.  It was located atop Mount Aureol in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

Originally intended as an Anglican missionary school to train teachers in the promotion of education and Christianity, it became a degree granting institution in 1876, when it became affiliated with Durham University in England. As a result of the affiliation, students at Fourah Bay studied the same curriculum and took examinations identical to those administered to Durham University students.  The curriculum of both institutions reflected the popular subjects of liberal arts institutions of the era: Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, History, Natural Science, French, and German. Its most prominent 19th and early 20th Century graduates included Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the first African Bishop of the Anglican Church, J. E. Casely Hayford, an early advocate of education and self-rule for West Africans, and Henry Rawlingson Carr, a prominent Nigerian educator and administrator. As one of the few places in pre-Independence Africa to offer post-secondary education, Fourah Bay College attracted sons (and daughters) of elite Africans from across the continent.  Its presence in Freetown allowed the city to tout itself as the Athens of West Africa.
Sources: 
Cyril P. Foray, An Outline of Fourah Bay College History, 1827-1977 (Freetown: Foray, 1979); Apollos O. Nwauwa, Imperialism, Academe, and Nationalism: Britain and University Education for Africans, 1860-1960 (London: F. Cass, 1997); Daniel J. Paracka, The Athens of West Africa: A History of International Education at Fourah Bay College, Freetown, Sierra Leone (New York: Routledge, 2003).
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Tacoma

Peters, Thomas (1738-1792)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Monument in Honor of Black Loyalists, Nova Scotia
Image Ownership: Public Domain
Born in Africa and enslaved in America, Thomas Peters is best known for his influence in settling Canadian blacks in the African colony of Sierra Leone. The earliest documentation of Peters’ life is as a 38-year-old slave in North Carolina.  When the Revolutionary War began in 1775, Peters escaped to British-occupied territory.

In 1776 Peters joined an all black regiment in the British Army called the Black Pioneers. During his service there, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant. When the Revolutionary War ended the Black Pioneers were among the thousands of Loyalists transported by the British Navy to the north shore of Nova Scotia and then on to New Brunswick. Peters soon became the recognized leader of the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia black communities, representing their concerns to provincial authorities.

In the process, he met abolitionist Granville Sharp, who had developed a plan to create a settlement of free blacks in Africa. He saw in the plight of the Canadian loyalists the opportunity to recruit additional settlers for his African colony.  Sharp immediately offered Peters and his Nova Scotian followers a new promised land in the “Province of Freedom” Sierra Leone.
Sources: 
Simon Schama, Rough Crossings (Toronto: Penguin Group, 2005); James W. St G. Walker, “Peters (Petters), Thomas”, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online (2000) http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=2115&interval=25&&PHPSESSID=njv4l5j5dglrp8buu4elf70is1.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
Independent Historian

Boston King (c. 1760-1802)

Entry Type: 
People
History Type: 
Global African History
Boston King Book Cover
Image Courtesy of History Collection, Nova Scotia Museum
Boston King, one of the pioneer settlers of Sierra Leone, was born enslaved on the Richard Waring plantation near Charleston, South Carolina around 1760. Through the age of 16, King was trained as a house servant before being sent to apprentice as a carpenter in Charleston. In 1780, when British troops occupied Charleston during the American Revolution, King fled to the British garrison and gained his freedom.  King was first a servant to British officers but like many black male Loyalists he joined the British Army. He worked mostly as a carpenter but on one occasion he carried an important dispatch through enemy lines, which saved 250 British soldiers at Nelson’s Ferry, South Carolina. Later, as a crewmember on a British warship, King participated in the capture of a rebel ship in Chesapeake Bay.

King was himself later captured and re-enslaved by the American navy but managed to escape as the war drew to a close.  Sometime in 1781 he married Violet, another runaway from Wilmington, North Carolina, and they both moved to British-occupied New York where he again worked as a servant.  
Sources: 
Boston King, Memoirs of the life of Boston King (Halifax: Nimbus Publishing, 2003); Simon Schama, Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution (New York: Harper-Collins Publishers, 2006); Joe Lockard and Elizabeth McNeil, eds. “Annotated Memoirs of the Life of Boston King, a Black Preacher originally published in The Methodist Magazine” (Arizona State University Antislavery Literature Project, n.d.), http://antislavery.eserver.org/narratives/boston_king/bostonkingproof.pdf/; James W. St G. Walker, “King, Boston,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online, http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=2489.
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle

Freetown, Sierra Leone (1792- -)

Entry Type: 
Places
History Type: 
Global African History
Freetown Residents at the Beach
Image Ownership: Public Domain

Freetown is the capital, principal port, commercial center, and largest city of Sierra Leone.  The city was founded by British Naval Lieutenant John Clarkson and freed American slaves from Nova Scotia.  Freetown was part of the larger colony of the Sierra Leone which was founded by the Sierra Leone Company (SLC) in 1787. The SLC, organized by British businessman and abolitionist William Wilberforce, sought to rehabilitate the black poor of London and former slaves of North America by bringing them to the settlement in Sierra Leone where they would stop the African slave trade by spreading Christianity through the continent.

The first groups of blacks, about 400 Londoners, arrived in Sierra Leone in 1787 and established Granville Town, named after British abolitionist Granville Sharp.  When the settlement was destroyed by the indigenous inhabitants in 1789,  British abolitionists sent a second, larger party of 1,100 former American slaves who had been resettled in Nova Scotia at the end of the American Revolution.  These settlers established Freetown in 1792.  In 1800, 500 Jamaican Maroons were landed by the British.

Sources: 
Michael Banton,  A West African City: A Study of Tribal Life in Freetown (London: Oxford University Press, 1969); Christopher Fyfe, Freetown: A Symposium (Freetown: University of Sierra Leone, 1968); Fourah Bay College: University of Sierra Leone. http://fbcusl.net/
Contributor: 
Affiliation: 
University of Washington, Seattle
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