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Collection Reference Number GLC00318
From Archive Folder Documents Relating to 1781 
Title Certifies Cuffee Wells's purchase of freedom
Date 30 April 1781
Author Huntington, Benjamin (1736-1800)  
Additional authors Lamb, Richard (fl. 1781) Nutter, John (fl. 1781)
Document Type Legal document
Content Description John Nutter and Richard Lamb sign, attesting that in May 1777 they "Belonged to a Class in the town of Norwich to Procure a soldier for the Continental Army, of which Mr. Elihu Hyde was head, and that Said Class hired Cuffee Wells, a Free Negro, to Enlist Into the Continental Service During the War, and Gave him Besides the Publick Bounty Thirty Pounds for Inlisting..." Part of the sum was paid to Wells' old master "for his Time." Signed by Huntington as Justice of the Peace, who confirms that Wells' former commander, Captain Jedediah Hyde of Norwich, "always understood that the money that was given to Wells at his Enlistment Purchased his Freedom."
Subjects Military History  African American History  African American Troops  Revolutionary War  Continental Army  Emancipation  Freemen  Slavery  Recruitment  Law  Government and Civics  
People Huntington, Benjamin (1736-1800)  Lamb, Richard (fl. 1781)  Nutter, John (fl. 1781)  Hyde, Jedediah (1738-1822)  Wells, Cuffee (fl. 1781)  
Place written Norwich, Connecticut
Theme Slavery & Abolition; African Americans; Law; The American Revolution
Sub-collection The Gilder Lehrman Collection, 1493-1859
Additional Information "In Connecticut, which held 5,100 in slavery in the mid-1770s, the conversation about emancipation began early. In 1774, two years before the War of Independence, Connecticut's General Assembly decreed that no more slaves could be brought into the colony. Legislation enacted a few years later further streamlined the manumission process and gave town boards the right to evaluate and rule on freedom requests... Although racial prejudice remained entrenched, enslaved people made their own powerful argument for freedom. More than once, black men petitioned the legislature for their emancipation, and the war itself, in which both the English and the colonials offered freedom to enslaved black men who would fight, served to usher thousands into free lives" (Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, Benjamin Huntington was a Continental Congressman (1780, 1782, 1783, 1788), Connecticut state senator (1781-1790 and 1791-1793), Mayor of Norwich (1784-1796) and a member of the First Congress (1789-1791).
Copyright The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Module Settlement, Commerce, Revolution and Reform: 1493-1859