« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Having launched his boat into the occan, and when steering for one of the Elizabeth Islands to consult with his brother on his future plans, he was discovered by the refugee pirates, who chased and seized both him and his vessel. Robbed of every thing he returned home pennyless, but without sinking under this discouragement. Thus circumstanced he applied to his brother David, who though in some degree deterred by the want of success which had hitherto attended Paul's attempts, yet acquiesced in his proposal to build another boat if he would furnish the materials. This being accomplished, the respectability of Paul Cuffee's character at this time procured him sufficient credit to enable him to purchase a cargo. He proceeded towards Nantucket, and on the voyage was again chased by the refugee pirates, but escaped them by night coming on: he however struck upon a rock on one of the Elizabeth Islands, and so far injured his boat as to render it necessary for him to return to Westport, to refit; which being accomplished he again set out for Nantucket, where he arrived in safety, but did not dispose of his cargo to advantage. He afterwards undertook a similar voyage with better success; but as he was returning home he again fell into the hands of the pirates, and was deprived of his all except his boat, which they permitted him to take,--not however without his having received much personal injury and ill treatment from them.
Under such numerous and untoward discomfitures the courage of most persons would have failed; but Paul's dispositions were not of that yielding nature. He possessed the inflexible spirit of perseverance and firmness of mind, which entitled him to a more successful issue of his endeavours, and he believed that while he maintained integrity of heart and conduct he might humbly hope for the protection of Providence. Under these impressions he prepared for another voyage: in his open boat with a small cargo, he again directed his course towards the Island of Nantucket. The weather was favourable, and he arrived safely at the destined port, and disposed of his little cargo to advantage. The profits of this voyage strengthening the confidence of his friends, enabled him still further to enlarge his plans.
At the time of his father's decease Paul had not received the benefit of education, and scarcely knew the letters of the alphabet. But this disadvantage he obviated by his assiduity; and at the period of his marriage could not only read and write, but was so well skilled in figures that he was able to resolve all the common rules of arithmetical calculation. He
then applied himself to the study of navigation, in which by the assistance of a friend he made a rapid progress, and found himself able to engage in nautical and commercial undertakings of greater extent.
Being now master of a small covered boat of about 12 tons burthen, he hired a person to assist him as a scaman, and made many advantageous voyages to different parts of the state of Connecticut; and when about twenty-five years old he married a native of the country, a descendant of the tribe to which his mother belonged. For some time after his marriage he attended chiefly to his agricultural concerns; but from an increase of family, he at length deemed it necessary to pursue his commercial plans more extensively than he had before done. He arranged his affairs for a new expedition, and hired a small house on Westport river, to which he removed h ́s family. A boat of 18 tons was now procured, in which he saded to the banks of St. George in quest of cod-fish, and returned home with a valuable cargo. This important adventure was the foundation of an extensive and profitable fishing establishment from Westport river, which continued for a considerable time, and was the source of an honest and comfortable living to many of the inhabitants of that district.
At this period Paul formed a connexion with his brother-inlaw Michael Wainer, who had several sons well qualified for the sea service, four of whom have since laudably filled responsible situations as captains and first mates. A vessel of 25 tons was built, and in two voyages to the Straits of Belle Isle and Newfoundland he met with such success as enabled him in conjunction with another person to build a vessel of 42 tons burthen, in which he made several profitable voyages.
Paul had exp rienced the many disadvantages of his very limited education, and he resolved, as far as it was practicable, to relieve his children from similar embarassments. The neighbourhood had neither a tutor nor school-house. Many of the citizens were desirous that a school should be established. About 1797, Paul proposed a meeting of the inhabitants for the purpose of making such arrangements as should accomplish the desired object. The collision of opinion respecting mode and place occasioned the me ting to separate without arriving at any conclusion; several meetings of the same nature were held, but all were unsuccessful in their issue. Perceiving that all efforts to procure a un on of sentiment were fruitless, Paul set himself to work in earnest, and had a suitable house built on his own ground, which he freely gave up
to the use of the public, and the school was opened to all who pleased to send their children. How gratifying to humanity is this anecdote! and who that justly appreciates human character would not prefer Paul Caffee, the offspring of an African slaye, to the proudest statesman that ever dealt out destruction amongst mankind?
About this time Paul proceeded on a whaling voyage to the straits of Belle Isle, where he found four other vessels completely equipped with boats and harpoons for catching whales. Paul discovered that he had not made proper preparations for the business, having only ten hands on board, and two boats, one of which was old and almost useless.When the masters of the other vessels found his situation, they withdrew from the customary practice of such voyages, and refused to mate with his crew. In this emergency Paul resolved to prosecute his undertaking alone,-till at length the other masters thought it most prudent to accede to the usual practice, as they apprehended his crew by their ignorance might alarm and drive the whales from their reach, and thus defeat their voyages. During the season they took seven whales. The circumstances which had taken place roused the ambition of Paul and his crew; they were diligent and enterprising, and had the honour of killing six of the seven whales; two of those fell by Paul's owu hands. He returned home in due season, heavily freighted with oil and bone, and arrived in the autumn of 1793, being then about his thirtyfourth year. He went to Philadelphia to dispose of his cargo. His pecuniary circumstances were by this time in a flourishing train. When in Philadelphia he purchased iron nccessary for bolts and other works suitable for a schooner of 60 or 70 tons, and soon after his return to Westport the keel for a new vessel was laid. In 1795 his schooner of 69 tons burthen was launched, and called The Ranger. Paul possessed two small fishing boats; but his money was exhausted, and the cargo for his new vessel would require a considerable sum beyond his present stock.
He now sold his two boats, and was enabled to place on board his schooner a cargo valued at 2000 dollars: with this he sailed to Norfolk on the Chesapeak Bay, and there learned that a very plentiful crop of Indian corn had been gathered that year on the eastern shore of Maryland, and that he could procure a schooner-load for a low price at Vienna, on the Nanticoke river. Thither he sailed; but on his arrival the people were filled with astonishment and alarm. A vessel
owned and commanded by a black man, and manned with a crew of the same complexion, was unprecedented and surprising.
The white inhabitants were struck with apprehensions of the injurious effects which such circumstances would have on the minds of their slaves, suspecting that he wished secretly to kindle the spirit of rebellion and excite a destructive revolt among them. Under these notions, several persons associated themselves for the purpose of preventing Paul from entering his vessel or remaining among them. On examination, his papers proved to be correct, and the custom-house officers could not legally refuse the entry of his vessel. Paul combined prudence with resolution, and on this occasion conducted himself with candour, modesty, and firmness: his crew behaved not only inoffensively but with a conciliating propriety. In a few days the inimical association vanished, and the inhabitants treated him and his crew with respect and even kindness. Many of the principal people visited his vessel, and in consequence of the pressing invitation of one of them, Paul dined with his family in the town.
In three weeks Paul sold his cargo, and received into his schooner 3000 bushels of Indian corn. With this he returned to Westport, where that article was in great demand: his cargo sold rapidly, and yielded him a profit of 1000 dollars. He reloaded his vessel, sailed for Norfolk, sold his cargo, and took in another which on his return proved as profitable as his first voyage. The home market was now amply supplied with corn, and it became necessary to seek a different employment for his vessel. He sailed to Passamaquoddy in search of a cargo. When he arrived at the river, James Brian, a merchant of Wilmington, (Delaware State) made him a liberal offer for his vessel to carry a load of gypsum. Paul thought the proposed price for the freight would equal the profits of any other business, and embraced his terms. He took on board the proposed cargo and proceeded to Wilmington, (Delaware.) Since that period some of the vessels in which Paul is concerned have annually made one or two voyages to the same port.
During the year 1797, after his return home, Paul purchased the house in which his family resided, and the adjoining farm. -For the farm and its improvements he paid 3,500 dollars, and placed it under the managemeut of his brother, who is a farmer,
By judicious plans, and diligence in their execution, Paul
has gradually increased his property, and by his integrity and consistency of conduct has gained the esteem and regard of his fellow citizens. In the year 1800 he was concerned in one half of the expenses of building and equipping a brig of 162 tons burthen, which portion he still holds. One fourth belongs to his brother, and the other fourth is owned by persons not related to his family. This vessel is now commanded by Thomas Wainer, Paul Cuffee's nephew, whose talents and character are perfectly adequate to such a situation.
The ship Alpha of 268 tons, carpenter's measure, of which Paul owns three fourths, was built in 1806. Of this vessel he was the commander; the rest of the crew consisting of seven men of colour. The ship has performed a voyage under his command from Wilmington to Savannah, from thence to Gottenburgh, and thence to Philadelphia.
After Paul's return in 1806, the big Traveller of 109 tons burthen was built at Westport, of one-half of which he is the owner. After this period, Paul, being extensively engaged in his mercantile and agricultural pursuits, resided at Westport.
For several years previous to this, Paul had turned his attention to the colony of Sierra Leona, and was induced to believe from his communications from Europe and other sources, that his endeavours to contribute to its welfare, and to that of his fellow men, might not be ineffectual. Under these impressions he sailed for Sierra Leona in the commencement of 1811 in the brig Traveller; his nephew Thomas Wainer being the captain. He arrived there after a two months passage, and resided there about the same length of time. The African Institution, apprised of his benevolent designs, applied for and obtained a license, which being forwarded to Paul Cuflee induced him to come to this country with a cargo of African produce. For the more effectual promotion of his primary intention, he left his nephew Thomas Wainer in the colony, and with the same disinterested views brought with him to England Aaron Richards, a native of Sierra Leona, with a view of educating him, and particularly of instructing him in the art of naviga tion. From the exertions of one individual, however ardently engaged, we ought not to form too high expectations; but from the little information we have obtained of his endeavours amongst the colonists at Sierra Leona, and the open reception which he met with amongst them, there are strong grounds of hope that he has not sown the seeds of improvement upon an unfruitful soil.
He arrived here a few weeks since in the brig Traveller,