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Paul Cuffe’s Journey from ‘Musta’ to Atlantic-African, 1778–1811

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Chapter Summary

The rhetoric of liberty and natural rights bandied about coastal New England during the era of the American Revolution. In this context, Paul Cuffe, his brother John, and others sought the same liberties white American colonists claimed that the British had stolen from them. In a nation where freedom for a black man was tenuous at best, Paul Cuffe courageously tested his legal status. Paul Cuffe emerged from his "Musta" heritage as a black man regardless of how local authorities chose to categorize him. His brother John married an Indian woman, like Paul did, but chose not to live in an Indian community in the commonwealth. Young Cuffe's boldness surfaced during the American Revolution. In some ways, it may seem ironic that this mustee man, the son of a former African slave and Wampanoag Indian mother became the celebrated, if not actual, founder of America's African colonization movement.

Keywords: African slave; America's African colonization movement; American Revolution; black man; Musta heritage; Paul Cuffe



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