Prince Whipple, across the Delaware with General Washington

Prince Whipple (1750-1796) was an African American slave who accompanied his owner, General William Whipple of the New Hampshire militia, during the American Revolutionary War.

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William C. Nell, in his 1851 book Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, related some undocumented anecdotes about Whipple:

Prince Whipple was born in Ambou, (now Central African Republic) Africa, 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 emancipated during the (Revolutionary) War, 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, where he died leaving a widow, Dinah a freeperson and two children.

Whipple was actually kept in slavery for seven more years after the war.

According to legend, Prince Whipple accompanied General Whipple and George Washington in the famous crossing of the Delaware River. Some believe that Whipple is the black man portrayed fending off ice with an oar at Washington’s knee in the painting Washington Crossing the Delaware, including the artist who painted the painting, German American artist Emanuel Leutze.

References

  • Robinson, J. Dennis. “Prince Whipple and American Painting”, from SeacoastNH.com.
  • Afro-American History thru Art page
  • Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. By Rev. Charles A. Goodrich, published by William Reed & Co. New York 1829
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