Prince Whipple

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Prince Whipple (1750-1796) was an African-American slave and later freedman who accompanied his former owner, General William Whipple of the New Hampshire militia, during the American Revolutionary War. Prince Whipple fought at the battles of Saratoga and in Delaware during the War for Independence. - See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/whipple-prince-1750-1796#sthash.3JD5caIw.dpuf [1]

Early life[edit]

In his 1851 book Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, the nineteenth-century African-American author and abolitionist, William C. Nell related some undocumented anecdotes about Whipple and his life:

Prince Whipple was born in Ambou (sic), in Ghana, of comparatively wealthy parents. When about ten years of age, he was sent by them, in company with a cousin, to America to be educated. An elder brother had returned four years before, and his parents were anxious that their child should receive the same benefits. The captain who brought the two boys over proved to be a treacherous villain, and carried them to Baltimore, where he exposed them for sale, they were both purchased by Portsmouth, New Hampshire men, Prince falling to General William Whipple.

He was much esteemed, and was once entrusted by the General with a large sum of money to carry from Salem to Portsmouth. He was attacked on the road, near Newburyport, by two ruffians; one was struck with a loaded whip, the other one he shot...Prince was beloved by all who knew him. He was also known as "Caleb Quotom" of Portsmouth.

In 1779, Prince Whipple was one of 20 petitioners who identified themselves as African men who were taken from their native lands “while but children and incapable of self-defense” now making a plea to the New Hampshire legislature for manumission and for the abolition of slavery in the state. The petition was tabled without legislative action. While the author of the document is unknown, Whipple was literate, as were most of the other petitioners. Literacy was not unusual for New Hampshire slaves who had grown up within households of educated owners. For instance, Whipple’s wife, Dinah, who later ran a school for African children, had been raised in the household of a prominent local minister. Prince married Dinah on her 21st birthday, which also was the date of her manumission, February 22, 1781. Whipple, however, was not freed until 1784. When William Whipple died the following year, his widow honored the General’s promise to provide a lifetime home for his servants. She allowed Prince Whipple to move a house onto her property where he and Dinah raised their seven children. They shared this house with another former Whipple slave and his family. Prince Whipple died on November 21, 1796 at the age of 46 and is buried with his wife and at least one daughter and a granddaughter near the tomb of his former owner at North Cemetery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. - See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/whipple-prince-1750-1796#sthash.3JD5caIw.dpuf[2]


Legacy[edit]

According to legend, Prince Whipple accompanied General Whipple and George Washington in the famous crossing of the Delaware River and is the black man portrayed fending off ice with an oar at Washington's knee in the painting Washington Crossing the Delaware, painted 75 years after the event by German American artist Emanuel Leutze. Most historians doubt that there is any basis for this story. It is extremely unlikely that either General Whipple or Prince Whipple was present at the Battle of Trenton. At that time, General Whipple was serving in the Continental Congress, which had fled Philadelphia and reconvened in Baltimore, a distance of 135 miles from Trenton. Moreover, Prince Whipple was not famous at the time the painting was commissioned, and it is unlikely that Leutze would have heard of him.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Charles W. Brewster, Rambles About Portsmouth (1859; reprint, Somersworth, NH: New Hampshire Publishing Company, 1971); Mark Sammons and Valerie Cunningham, Black Portsmouth: Three Centuries of African-American Heritage (Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire Press, 2004) - See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/whipple-prince-1750-1796#sthash.3JD5caIw.dpuf
  2. ^ Charles W. Brewster, Rambles About Portsmouth (1859; reprint, Somersworth, NH: New Hampshire Publishing Company, 1971); Mark Sammons and Valerie Cunningham, Black Portsmouth: Three Centuries of African-American Heritage (Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire Press, 2004) - See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aah/whipple-prince-1750-1796#sthash.3JD5caIw.dpuf

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