Prince Whipple was born about 1750 in Amabou, Africa, in present day Ghana, to relatively wealthy parents. When he was 10-years-old, Prince’s parents sent him and a cousin to America to receive an education, as Prince's older brother had done years earlier. However, just young boys, Prince, who received that name in the states, and his cousin, Cuffee, were taken advantage of by the ship owner. Instead of delivering them to the school, he sold them into slavery when the ship arrived in Baltimore. William Whipple Jr. of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, purchased Prince while his brother bought Cuffee. Both boys took the surname of their owners, as was common.
A signer of the , William Whipple was also a colonel in the First New Hampshire militia. When the American Revolution began, Whipple was commissioned as a brigadier general in the Continental Army and became an aide to General Washington. On his way to battle, Whipple took Prince with him to serve as a bodyguard when he headed towards Saratoga. (see ) On their way to join the forces, legend says Whipple told Prince, "You are going to fight for your liberty," to which Prince responded, "but I have none to fight for." Several accounts claim Whipple freed Prince right there on the spot while others believe Whipple just promised, "behave like a man and do your duty, and from this hour you shall be free." However, records suggest Prince did not officially obtain his freedom until years after the war.
In 1779, along with 19 other African men, Prince signed a petition declaring they were taken "while but children and incapable of self-defense," and placed in slavery. The petition appealed for their manumission as well as the abolition of slavery in New Hampshire. Unfortunately, the state legislature tabled the petition without any action.
While New Hampshire's 1783 state constitution declared, "all men are born equal and independent," it did not seem to lead to the abolition of slavery as Massachusetts' did following Mum Bett’s lawsuit. (see ). As far as Prince, he married another slave named Dinah on February 22, 1781. She was manumitted, or freed, on her wedding day, while town archives indicate Prince remained enslaved until February 26, 1784. General Whipple had promised to provide for his servants, which his widow honored after his death in 1785. Prince, his cousin, and their families moved into a house located on the Whipple's farm upon which they remained for years. Prince died at the age of 46 on November 21, 1796, and is buried near General Whipple at North Cemetery in Portsmouth.
As the slavery issue divided the Americans, abolitionist, journalist, and free black man, William Cooper Neil published Colored Patriots of the American Revolution in 1855 of which he recorded short biographies of Oliver and Prince. Neil specifically noted in Prince's write-up that he was the black man seated in the front of the boat in the recently revealed Leutze painting. Tradition identifies the light-skinned man in its bow as Oliver, supported by Neil’s comment regarding his white ancestry resulting in his lighter complexion.
On May 26, 1976, to celebrate America’s bicentennial, the United States Postal Service honored these two veterans in a stamp. Cropping around the two figures in the boat, the stamp designated them as Cromwell and Whipple, yet some of today’s historians disagree.
Military records confirm that Oliver, as well as 20 other black patriots, accompanied Washington across the Delaware River. Critics today say there is no way Prince is in that boat as Whipple was 130 miles away in Baltimore with the Continental Congress. Others claim Leutze would not have even known of Prince Whipple, as he was not famous yet. However, Leutze lived in the states in the 1840’s and could have very well learned of the Revolutionary veteran while here. Similar arguments are made with Oliver Cromwell’s identity as well.
While their identities can be endlessly argued, the criticism is missing the forest for the trees. The entire painting is an allegory, not a historical portrayal of the momentous event. Several figures occupying the boat, such as the American Indian, the Scotsman and farmers, were plausible participants, but the woman and a frontiersman were unlikely present that night. Yet accuracy was not Leutz’s goal. His painting was meant to inspire his German countrymen by revealing to them the heroic actions of Washington and what America accomplished when people from all backgrounds and walks of life climbed in the same boat. When as individuals, they voluntarily came together as they traveled in the same direction with a common goal.
Because of Neil’s comments released in his book just 4 years after the painting, Prince Whipple’s identity was attached to the black man in front of Washington. Yet the soldier could represent other black patriots like Crispus Attucks (see ), Peter Salem (see ), Wentworth Cheswell (see ), and James Armistead Lafayette (see ) among numerous others. Upwards of 9,000 black men, both free and enslaved, served in the Continental Army and Navy, state militias, servants to the officers, like Prince, and as spies, like James. In fact, historians have noted that America’s Armed Services would not encounter the integration they experienced during the Revolution until the Korean War. (see )
While it is unlikely any women crossed the Delaware with Washington, women served quite honorably in the Revolution. Many accompanied their husbands to camp where they cooked, cleaned, and washed for the men. In addition, they helped during battles delivering items such as water to those manning the cannons. Two such notable women were Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley and Margaret Cochran Corbin, both who became known as ‘Molly Pitcher’. (see and ) Other women contributed to the cause as well, like Betsy Ross, who's flag James Monroe is holding in the boat, and the young black slave, Phillis Wheatley. (see and )
The frontiersman represents those like Simon Kenton, Daniel Boone, and George Rogers Clark who fought the British, and the Indians they turned against the Americans, in the wilderness of Ohio Country and Kentucky. (see , , and ) However, there were tribes throughout the colonies that supported the Patriot’s cause. Foreigners like Thomas Paine, Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, and the Marquis de Lafayette were also crucial to the war effort. (see , , and )
Liberty, for decades the progressive movement has been successfully pitting Americans against each other. No longer do we look at each other as individuals with the freedom to have a difference of opinion. Today, everyone is placed in a box where you are berated into a groupthink atmosphere. Depending on your box’s label, you are required to hate those in other categories contrary to the group you have been branded with. (see and ) Just making one statement can cause liberal news outlets and social media to attack in efforts to destroy the perpetrator, even though that person make be completely in line with the progressive agenda. (see ) Individual opinion is a cardinal sin to political correctness groupthink, which by design destroys creativity and discourages individual responsibility.
Over 400 years after America declared her independence from Britain, the British people realized that same feeling of liberation. Today, January 30, 2020, Brexit leader Nigel Farage informed the European Union (EU) they would be leaving. While they love all the countries in the EU, they despise its groupthink ideology. Cutting off Nigel's mic for daring to wave his country's flag, the EU’s vice-president proceeded to admonish him for daring to show his individual flag within the collective EU proceedings. In complete unawareness, she demonstrated every point Nigel made as to the reason for their leaving the oppressive and dictatorial powers of the EU Parliament. As much as the One World Order disciples want to deny it, the desire for individualism is deep and strong in all humanity.
It’s time for Americans to stop listening to the talking heads living in the elitist bubbles of Washington DC, New York, and Hollywood. Dictators, tyrants, and authoritarians need people at odds. When we let ourselves talk to and honestly respect others with differing opinions, it expands everyone's insight and spurs cooperation. We quickly realize we are all in the same boat, just trying to get across the ice-filled river and reach the same landing site.
We must return to the idea of independence and freedom that made America unique in the first place, causing people to flood her shores to obtain that same liberty. (see ) We must reject the idea of collectivism and return to our roots of individualism, as well as restoring God, and not government, as our head. (see ) Continuing down the path of forcing everyone into separate boats will only cause the country to turn into a bumper car carnival ride with no one getting anywhere and a lot of people just going in circles.
That’s my 2 cents.
January 30, 2020
Oliver quietly sat rocking on his porch on a warm spring morning, watching the neighborhood children play when he noticed a man walking down the street. Curious as to where the stranger was going, his interest peaked when the man turned towards him. "Hello, sir, do you have a moment?"
A journalist for the Burlington (New Jersey) Gazette, the stranger wanted to interview the esteemed veteran. Settling himself in a seat next to the man, the journalist asked Oliver how old he was. After inquiring about the exact day of the month, Oliver responded that he was "100 years old today."
Amazed, the journalist continued with questions about his time fighting for America's independence. Oliver recounted his nearly seven years in the Continental Army, listing the numerous major battles he participated in. Serving as a drummer in the New Jersey 2nd Continental Regiment, Oliver's duty could mean life or death for the soldiers as he directed their actions with the beat of his drum. However, Oliver always carried his musket as well, oiled and ready to go, to engage in the fight when needed. With delight, Oliver remembered crossing the Delaware River that cold Christmas night in 1776 with General George Washington before defeating the Hessians. He continued, telling the reporter how he helped the Patriots “knock the British about lively at Princeton” a week later. (see )
Oliver participated in many other vital battles, including Short Hills, Brandywine (see ), and Germantown before spending the winter with Washington at Valley Forge. (see ) He then continued on with his regiment to fight at Monmouth (see ), Springfield, where he was seriously wounded (see ), and finally Yorktown, where he charged redoubt number ten and also witnessed the death of the last man killed in the battle. (see )
Following the announcement of the end of the war on April 19, 1782, New Jersey furloughed Oliver’s regiment on June 6, thus ending his military service. Enlisted at the beginning of the conflict, Oliver remained loyal through it all as others deserted Washington to return to their families and farms. His longevity and personal participation in so many critical battles produced a close relationship with the Commander-in-Chief. As a result, Washington personally signed his discharge papers, which Oliver proudly talked about often. In addition, Washington presented him with his new Badge of Military Merit, the predecessor of the Purple Heart, citing Oliver's outstanding dedication, military discipline, service, sacrifice, and distinguished personal conduct.
Oliver's love for his commander was so apparent, the reporter noted in his article, “though feeble, his [Oliver's] lips trembling at every word, when he spoke of [General George] Washington his eyes sparkled with enthusiasm.” Yet Oliver's affection is even more special as he represents a person the progressives don't want to admit existed.
Oliver Cromwell was born a free black man in Black Horse (now Columbus), New Jersey, on May 24, 1752. Working on his uncle’s farm, Cromwell traded in his hoe for a musket when the Americans entered into war against Britain.
Following the war, Oliver applied for his rightful pension. Not only did the pension office deny his benefits, they took his discharge papers and citation he received from Washington, which he described to the reporter with a tear in his eye. However, a known and loved figure in his community, local town leaders, some of which were slave owners, rallied behind Oliver’s cause. They persuaded the government to grant him a $96 annual pension. With the funds, he bought a 100-acre farm on the outskirts of Burlington. Father of 14 children, he and his descendants continued their fight for liberty for all as they participated in the Underground Railroad. (see )
Cromwell died on January 24, 1853, as his country prepared to go to battle against itself over slavery. (see , , and ) Since no monument was ever erected despite interest to do so, Cromwell’s exact resting place is unknown but is suspected to be at the Broad Street Methodist Church Cemetery in Burlington, New Jersey. However, his memory lives on with the Oliver Cromwell Black History Society, organized in 1984 by citizens of Burlington. In addition to granting prize money in Black History Month Art and Essay contests, they also award the “Oliver Cromwell Living Heritage Award” annually.
Two years before Oliver’s death, German painter Emanuel Leutze revealed his now famous painting “Washington Crossing The Delaware”. (see ) It has been long accepted that the light skinned man in the front of the bow was Oliver Cromwell. Leutze also included a darker skinned soldier sitting between Cromwell and Washington, whose story is also important to America’s history.
WE ARE ALL IN
THE SAME BOAT