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Shani Roper

was born on the island of St. Kitts in the British West Indies. Little is known about how he came to be in Falmouth, Virginia, in the 1770s. However, both the towns of Falmouth and Fredericksburg sat on the banks of the Rappahannock River and were bustling eighteenth-century port cities. Many ships leaving the Rappahannock traded goods and provisions in the West Indies. Jeffery Bolster (1997) argues that in the eighteenth century, enslaved Africans worked extensively on ships and schooners, thereby participating in the complex shipping network in the Americas. Many of these enslaved Africans were skilled seamen who were familiar with the geography of major ports throughout the region. Norman Schools (2010 suggests that it is possible that John DeBaptiste was one of many enslaved Africans from the Caribbean who arrived on these ships visiting the port and who either escaped or took residence in ...

Article

Valika Smeulders

was born in Paramaribo, Suriname, on 26 August 1846. He was one of ten children born to Johannes Ellis, who was a senior civil servant, and Maria Louisa de Hart. He was born at a time when slavery was still legal in the Dutch colonies, where abolition did not occur until 1863. His paternal grandmother and his maternal great-grandmother were both born in Ghana. They were both enslaved and had children by white men. Several authors, J. J. Vrij (2001) in most detail indicate that Ellis s paternal grandfather must have been Abraham de Veer the governor of Elmina Castle the Dutch trading post De Veer was Dutch born on Curaçao where his father was governor He was a married man and did not officially recognize Johannes Ellis or the other children he fathered out of wedlock but he did take young Johannes with him ...

Article

Melanie R. Thomas

businessman, American Revolutionary War soldier, community leader, property owner, and freedman, was born free in Westersfield, Connecticut, to parents who have not yet been identified. Physical descriptions in early documents suggest that Lattimore (sometimes spelled Latimer) was of mixed racial origin. His family worked on a farm in Lower Ulster County, New York, and ran a ferry service. Benjamin Lattimore was one of only a handful of African American heads of households identified by name as a free person of color during the Colonial era.

The contributions of the black community of early Albany are often forgotten in the context of American history. Many, such as Lattimore, made valuable contributions to the military, to community organizations, and to commerce. In 1776 at the age of fifteen Benjamin Lattimore joined New York s Third Regiment of the Continental army The British captured him and forced ...

Article

Nicolás Ocaranza

Venezuelan army general during the War of Independence and first president of the Republic of Venezuela, was born on 13 June 1790 in Curpa, a village close to Acarigua in the general captaincy of Venezuela. It must be noted that scholarly opinions vary regarding Páez’s racial genealogy. He was the son of Juan Victorio Páez, an official of the Royal Tobacco Monopoly, whose family arrived in Venezuela from the Canary Islands (Spain).

Though the book Documents for the History of the Life of José Antonio Páez (Vol. 1; Caracas: National Academy of History, 1976) mentions that his father initiated an administrative process intended to prove Páez’s “clean white ancestry, without Moro or Indian race,” no reliable documents show that his mother, Maria Violante Herrera, was a woman of white ancestry. And while Paez claims in his Autobiografía that his soldiers called him catire blond man it should be ...

Article

Rocío del Águila

was born on 12 August 1889 in the northern Peruvian city of Piura. He was the son of Antonio Sánchez and Rosa Cerro, whose prominent family included Senator Miguel Cerro, Luis Miguel’s godfather. Sánchez Cerro attended the San Miguel High School and lived in a middling residential area, not in a poor neighborhood as is often believed. He was a mestizo with white, indigenous, and black heritage. In Piura, blacks were associated with a neighborhood known as “la Mangachería,” whose name apparently derived from Madagascar slaves known as malgaches. Even though his nickname was “El mocho” (the maimed), because he lost two fingers of his right hand, some associates called him “negro Sánchez Cerro” for his skin color.

Sánchez Cerro left Piura when he was 17 years old and entered the Chorrillos Military School in 1906. He graduated in 1910 and served in different regions of Peru ...

Article

Alfonso Arrivillaga Cortés

was born on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent around 1788. Upon his conversion to Christianity later in life, his given name was changed to Marcos. In April 1797, at the age of 10, he arrived in Guatemala, together with more than 2,000 African- and Amerindian-descended “Caribes,” as they were called in Central America. In the Caribbean Lesser Antilles they were known as “Caribes-Negros,” and carried out an effective war against the British colonists (1795–1796). Upon their defeat they were deported to the community of Roatán on the Bay Islands to the north of the Honduran coast.

The first historical account we have of Marcos is in the 1821 census of the community of Trujillo on the Caribbean coast, around the time that Spain’s Central American colonies declared independence (Archivo General de Centroamérica [AGCA], A1—leg. 99, exp. 1159 The census tells us that at that ...

Article

Ernesto Mercado-Montero

one of the rebel leaders of the Haitian Revolution was most likely born in the Congo or Kongo region of West Central Africa His name may come from the homonymous coffee plantation located between present day Vallières and Mombin Crochu We have no records about Sans Souci s life in Africa but like many other African slaves he was likely a war veteran before arriving in the Caribbean As John Thornton suggests around 70 percent of the slaves listed in the French records during the 1780s and 1790s came directly from Africa Warfare transformed the Lower Guinea Coast and the Congo into two main points of origin for slaves in the late eighteenth century In the 1780s alone slave ships carried some 116 000 war captives from these regions the majority of whom were taken to the French colonies in the Antilles In the Kingdom of Kongo for instance the ...

Article

Miriam R. Martin Erickson

marshal in the Black Auxiliary Troops of King Carlos IV, a black militia group that fought during the Haitian Revolution under the Spanish Crown against the French. Santiago (also known as Jean-Jacques) fought in General Jean-François Papillon’s army in Saint-Domingue. In 1793, two years into the Haitian Revolution, the Spanish government acted on the instability of the region and began recruiting leaders from the slave uprising. Major and minor rebel leaders accepted the Spanish conditions that offered them freedom, land, and privileges in return for conquering French-controlled Saint-Domingue. In early 1794 these leaders occupied most of northern Saint-Domingue, and Spain officially titled them the Black Auxiliary Troops of King Carlos IV. It was during this time in Saint-Domingue that Auxiliary leaders learned both the tactics of political negotiation and how to maneuver within the Spanish legal system, which benefited them greatly during their dealings with the Spanish. By July ...

Article

Mark J. Sammons

slave, Revolutionary War veteran, abolitionist, and jack-of-all-trades, was born, according to the historical record, in “Amabou, Africa.” This location is probably Anomabu in present-day Ghana, which was known as the Gold Coast when Prince Whipple was born. The names of his parents are unknown, but oral tradition published in the mid-nineteenth century implies he was born free and maintains he was sent abroad with a brother (or cousin) Cuff (or Cuffee), but parental plans went awry and the youths were sold into slavery in North America. A collective document Whipple signed with twenty others in 1779 describes their shared experience as being “torn by the cruel hand of violence” from their mothers' “aching bosom,” and “seized, imprisoned and transported” to the United States and deprived of “the nurturing care of [their] bereaved parent” (New Hampshire Gazette, 15 July 1780).

Prince was acquired by William Whipple ...

Article

Mark J. Sammons

Prince Whipple was born in “Amabou, Africa,” probably Anomabu, Ghana, formerly the Gold Coast. The names of his parents are unknown, but mid-nineteenth-century oral tradition suggests that he was born free and maintains that he was sent abroad with a brother (or cousin) Cuff (or Cuffee), but parental plans went awry and the youths were sold into slavery in North America. A collective document Whipple signed with twenty others in 1779 describes their shared experience as being “torn by the cruel hand of violence” from their mothers' “aching bosom,” and “seized, imprisoned and transported” to the United States and deprived of “the nurturing care of [their] bereaved parent” (New Hampshire Gazette, July 15, 1780).

Prince was acquired by William Whipple, and Cuff by William's brother Joseph Whipple, white merchants in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. William Whipple's household also included Windsor Moffatt and other slaves There ...