PAUL CUFFE AND THE AFRICAN PROMISED LAND by Mary Gage Atkin

PAUL CUFFE AND THE AFRICAN PROMISED LAND

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Paul Cuffe was a well-to-do Massachusetts freedman, a sea captain who sailed with an all-black crew, and a campaigner for tax relief for his disenfranchised fellow freedmen and emancipation for Massachusetts slaves. Realizing that he would never gain social acceptance despite his business success and membership in the Society of Friends, Cuffe became interested in the African colony of Sierra Leone where he arranged the resettlement of American blacks and helped organize the foundering colony. But though Cuffe poured his fortune into the Sierra Leone venture, he was frustrated by the outbreak of the War of 1812 and British indifference and died, dejected, in his late fifties. Atkins, who relies on excerpts from Cuffe's journals and fills us in on the subsequent history of Sierra Leone (though not on the fate of the back-to-Africa movement in America), gives us a full scale treatment of Cuffe's life and work. Brisk and readable if somewhat unexpansive, her narrative is far more mature than Johanna Johnston'S lackluster 1970 biography; and, in contrast to the anachronistic motives imputed to Cuffe in Sheldon Harris' adult study (1972), the author's ability to draw Cuffe in the context of his times is particularly admirable.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Nelson