Two Generations of Freedom: From Kofi to Paul Cuffe

 JOIN US on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 7 PM at the Little Compton Community Center, when Jeffrey Fortiprofessor-jeffrey-fortinn will present “Two Generations of Freedom: From Kofi to Paul Cuffe.” Professor Fortin will share the stories of Kofi Slocum, an African man enslaved in Westport, MA, who secured his freedom, and his son, Quaker businessman and sea captain, Paul Cuffe. During his lifetime, Paul Cuffe (1759-1817) was one of the most prosperous and politically active men of color in America. Dr. Fortin is the Paul Cuffe Fellow at Mystic Seaport Museum and Assistant Professor of History at Emmanuel College. His book on the life of Paul Cuffe will be published shortly.

The talk is free and open to the public.

It is part of the Little Compton Historical Society’s Slavery and Freedom Speakers’ Series and is sponsored by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, an independent state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Later in the month the last talk in the series will take place on Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 7PM, when Tony Connors, President of the Westport Historical Society, will present “Westport’s Stories of Unfreedom” based on his extensive research using Westport’s primary source documents. Through the years changing borders and family connections have created strong ties between Westport’s and Little Compton’s historic people of color.

LCHS Annual Meeting

Stories of Enslavement, Indenture and Freedom in Little Compton

Speaker:  Marjory Gomez O’Toole

  • Wednesday, August 10, 2016
  • United Congregational ChurchMarjory O'Toole 2016 by Chris O'Toole
  • 7:00 PM      Business Meeting
  • 7:15 PM       Speaker  
  • 8:00 PM     Refreshments, Book Sales, Author Signing
  • Please Note: The memorial dedication originally planned for 6:30 PM in the cemetery has been postponed because of a delay with the monument.  

Marjory O’Toole, Little Compton Historical Society Managing Director, will share the personal stories of some of Little Compton’s 250 enslaved and forcibly indentured people during her talk at the organization’s Annual Meeting.  The event is free and open to the public and will be held on Wednesday, August 10 at 7 PM at the United Congregational Church on the Little Compton Commons. Members of the Historical Society are especially encouraged to attend to vote on the organization’s board members and officers. A brief business meeting will take place from 7 to 7:15, followed by Ms. O’Toole’s talk. The evening will conclude with refreshments and a book-signing.

Ms. O’Toole has been the Managing Director of the Historical Society for over a decade. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Humanities at Brown University. For the last three years she has been conducting primary source research that sheds light on the lives of Little Compton’s enslaved and forcibly indentured men, women and children who lived and worked in the community from 1674 to 1816.

This summer, and specifically August 5, 2016, marks the 200th anniversary of the end of slavery in Little Compton. Kate Hilliard, the last person known to be enslaved in Little Compton, gained her freedom on August 5, 1816 when her owner, David Hilliard’s will, was approved in the local probate court. David granted Kate her freedom in his will and directed his grandson to care for her in her old age. Kate was enslaved by the Hilliard family throughout her life and worked in their tavern and the poor house that they ran. She married an enslaved man named Prince Grinnell and together they had at least two children.

The Historical Society is celebrating the end of slavery in Little Compton by honoring the lives of enslaved people like Kate Hilliard. Their stories were lost from our local history for over two hundred years and have only recently been rediscovered through the Historical Society and Ms. O’Toole’s efforts. This July the Society published Ms. O’Toole’s book entitled “If Jane Should Want to Be Sold, Stories of Enslavement Indenture and Freedom in Little Compton, Rhode Island” and opened a special exhibit by the same title. The book is now available at the Historical Society’s museum shop and Wilbur’s General Store, Earle’s Gas Station, Gray’s Daily Grind and Partner’s Village Store as well as amazon.com. It is also available for loan at the Brownell Library and other libraries throughout the state.

Reservations are not required for the annual meeting.  Directions and more information is available by calling 401-635-4035.