Not to be confused with the Reverend Paul Cuffee (1754-1812), who is honored on the liturgical Calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA).
Paul Cuffee or Paul Cuffe (January 17, 1759 – September 7, 1817) was a Quaker businessman, sea captain, patriot, and abolitionist. He was of Aquinnah Wampanoag and Ashanti descent and helped colonize Sierra Leone. Cuffe built a lucrative shipping empire and established the first racially integrated school in Westport, Massachusetts.
A devout Christian, Cuffee often preached and spoke at the Sunday services at the multi-racial Society of Friends meeting house in Westport, Massachusetts. In 1813, he donated most of the money to build a new meeting house. He became involved in the British effort to resettle freed slaves, many of whom had moved from the US to Nova Scotia after the American Revolution, to the fledgling colony of Sierra Leone. Cuffe helped establish The Friendly Society of Sierra Leone, which provided financial support for the colony.
The future mariner Paul Cuffee was born on January 17, 1759, during the French and Indian War, on Cuttyhunk Island, Massachusetts. He was the youngest son of Kofi or Cuffee Slocum and Ruth Moses. Paul"s father, Kofi, was a member of the Ashanti ethnic-group from Ashanti. Kofi had been captured at age ten and brought as a slave to the British colony of Massachusetts. His owner, John Slocum, could not reconcile slave ownership with his own Quaker values and gave Kofi his freedom in the mid-1740s. Kofi took the name Cuffee Slocum and, in 1746, he married Ruth Moses. Ruth was a Native American member of the Wampanoag Nation on Martha"s Vineyard. Cuffee Slocum worked as a skilled carpenter, farmer and fisherman and taught himself to read and write. He worked diligently to earn enough money to buy a home and in 1766 bought a 116-acre (0.47 km2) farm in nearby Dartmouth, Massachusetts. The couple would raise ten children together, of which Paul was the seventh in line.
During Paul Cuffe"s infancy there was no Quaker meeting