Who Was Paul Cuffe?


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Hello, my name is Brock N. Cordeiro and from September 2001 through December 2004 I was a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts - Boston pursuing my Master of Arts degree in history.  I created my original website in order to conduct research for my thesis paper which examined the historical significance of Paul Cuffe (January 17, 1759 - September 9, 1817) of Westport, Massachusetts.  My goal was to explore who Paul Cuffe was, why he is historically significant (especially to Southeastern Massachusetts), and whether he has received adequate historical remembrance. 

My thesis was titled Paul Cuffe: A Study of His Life and the Status of His Legacy in "Old Dartmouth."

My thesis, as required by
UMass Boston (History 699) was approved by a committee consisting of Dr. Julie Winch, Dr. Timothy Hacsi, and Dr. Vincent Cannato in November 2004.  I awarded my degree on December 30, 2004.

View or Download my Master's Thesis:

You can find more information about my thesis - including the reaction of the local newspapers, below.  However, if you would like to view or download my thesis please click here: Paul Cuffe: A Study of His Life and the Status of His Legacy in "Old Dartmouth."  My thesis is 214 pages (208 pages of text, reference notes, and bibliography) which makes for a downloadable .PDF file that is approximately 726 KB.  I will also make my thesis available on either a floppy disk or CD-Rom.  I only ask that you please include $1.00 to cover the cost of the medium as well as shipping costs.  You can e-mail me at PaulCuffe@comcast.net and reach me at my contact information listed at the end of this page.

It was always a goal of mine to place my research into the hands of others in order to promote both the life and actions of Paul Cuffe but also a greater, richer, and more complete understanding of local history.  I had wanted to donate several hardcopies to area schools, libraries, historical societies, and such but doing so was simply beyond my financial abilities.  Therefore, I grant permission for any person, organization, or institution to download a copy of my thesis for their academic or scholarly interest.  Please feel free to print as many copies as you would like.  My only restriction is that you use my thesis in a non-profit manner.  I hope that my thesis will be widely distributed to as many interested parties as possible and that my research will be used as a catalyst for further interest in and study of both the history of Paul Cuffe and Old Dartmouth.

If you are curious as to which sources that I used in my thesis then please feel free to review my bibliography.

My original thesis proposal for Professor  Hacsi, written as a part of the required Thesis Preparation course (History 690) in May 2003 is also available for you to read by clicking here

Cuffe Recognition in the Local Media:

The following newspaper articles have been published about or significantly referencing Paul Cuffe since I wrote my Master's thesis.  This is not necessarily an all-inclusive list but it is fairly exhaustive.  The only intentionally left out references were those known to be duplicative in more than one newspaper.  Not all, but many, were written by or in response to Cuffe-activities I was involved in:

Additionally, I am very proud that as a result of my thesis the producers of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) television program History Detectives (produced by Lion TV.) contacted me in April 2004 in order to consult on segment of a future episode of the series that explored the possibility of "the" Paul Cuffe having signed a Revolutionary War muster roll.  Evidently, Lion TV. discovered my research after they contacted the Westport Public Library and was told of the newspaper stories listed above.  I am pleased to announce that my conclusions and those put forth within the episode were identical.  This episode of History Detectives first aired on Monday, September 13, 2004 and has been re-run many times since.  I will not go into further details as to the core of the segment so as not to spoil the program for anyone who wishes to check their local PBS listings to watch it for themselves.

Here is a transcript of the "The Continental Muster Roll" the History Detectives - the segment featuring Paul Cuffe.
More recently, I gave a lecture titled "Paul Cuffe, black patriot and abolitionist," on Tuesday, April 21, 2009, for the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park at the National Park Visitor's Center located at 33 William Street in New Bedford.
Finally, I was honored that State Representatives Michael Rodrigues of Westport & John Quinn of Dartmouth as well as House Minority Leader Bradley Jones issued citations in honor of Paul Cuffe's 250th birthday.  Furthermore, Congressman Barney Frank of the 4th Congressional District of Massachusetts inserted a speech into the Congressional Record and Governor Deval Patrick declared January 17, 2009 to be Paul Cuffe Day along with the Town of Dartmouth.  These were all direct results of my personal efforts to raise awareness of Paul Cuffe for his 250th birthday. 
For more information about Paul Cuffe:

To learn more about the life of Paul Cuffe click on the following link  to view a wonderful editorial that was published before before my awareness of Paul Cuffe.

Survey Project:

A critical component of my research was brief non-scientific survey that sought to gauge how well known Paul Cuffe is to the general public. The survey will attempted to determine the circumstances that have caused Cuffe to either be remembered or forgotten within Old Dartmouth.  The public opinion poll was the main reason that I established this website.

Although I am no longer conducting the research, please feel free to spend a  few minutes to take my survey about your knowledge of Paul Cuffe.  You will not be able to view any of the results but you will be able to see the questions that I used.



If you have any questions, comments, or would like to help with my research in anyway, please feel free to contact me.

Brock N. Cordeiro
15 Sagamore Drive
Dartmouth, MA 02748-1261
Phone: 508-979-8930
Fax: 508-996-4622

Special Thanks:

I would like to thank Dr. Julie Winch, professor of history at UMass Boston, for introducing me to Paul Cuffe and guiding me as my thesis advisor throughout History 699 - Master of Arts Thesis.  I would also like to thank Jeff Burson and Craig Olsen for their assistance in creating the original website.

Updated: Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Brock N. Cordeiro