In America’s nascency, black people had it rough for sure. The majority endured a joyless life of servitude and hard labor under the heel of severe plantation owners. Some plucky African Americans, however, managed to escape this dire fate and went on to live illustrious lives acquiring wealth and status other colonists would envy.
These individuals, through luck and wherewithal, were able to overcome the status quo and triumph in spite of a system rigged against them. They serve as an inspiration and testament to the strength of the human spirit and the will to succeed.
10. Paul Cuffee
Paul Cuffee was a prodigious sea captain and entrepreneur born in 1759. His father, Cuffee Slocum, was a freed slave, and his mother was a Native American named Ruth Moses. Paul Cuffee grew up in Massachusetts as the youngest of 10 children.
Although he had no formal education, he was able to learn arithmetic and navigation through a family friend. He taught himself to read and write and held various jobs as a farmer, carpenter, and fisherman.
In 1776, his hard work earned him enough money to purchase a 116-acre farm in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. Cuffee managed to build a lucrative shipping business and established the first racially integrated school in Westport, Massachusetts.
He is also credited as the first free African American to visit the White House and meet with a sitting president. Cuffee was politically active and sought to establish a prosperous colony for black people to return to in Africa. Cuffee died in 1817 and left behind an estate with an estimated value of almost $20,000, which today equates to roughly $500,000.