Cuffee Saunders

Cuffee Saunders

Revolutionary War


Born into slavery, Cuffee Saunders secured his freedom by serving during the Revolutionary War.



Image Source: Benjamin Huntington, Oath certifying Cuffee Saunders's purchase of freedom, 1821, Gilder Lehrman Institute, GLC00318

Handwritten Document showing two statements from 1781, attesting to the freedom of Cuffee Saunders

Cuffee Saunders’s Biography

Primary Source: Oath certifying Cuffee Saunders’s freedom

This document is composed of two oaths attesting to Cuffee Saunders’s freedom. At the time, Saunders was still registered with the enslaved name of Wells.

Historical Document containing an oath

Benjamin Huntington, [Oath certifying Cuffee Saunders’s purchase of freedom], April 30, 1781, Gilder Lehrman Collection, GLC00318.

Full Transcript


Norwich 30th April 1781

This Certifies, that we Subscribers, in May 1777. Belonged to A Class in the Town of Norwich To Procure a Soldier for the Continental Army, of Which Mr. Elihu Hyde was Head, and that Said Class Hir’d Cuffee Wells, a Free Negro to Enlist Into the Continental Service During the War, and Gave him Besides the Publick Bounty Thirty Pounds for Inlisting and [inserted: the John Nutter Surgn.] that Part of the Whole of Said £30.0.0 as we then understood was Paid to [struck: his] [inserted: Cuffee’s] old Master for his [struck: Cuffee’s] Time
             Jno Nutter
             Richard Lamb

Norwich April 30th 1781. Personally approved Messer. John Nutter and Richard Lamb Signers to the Above Certificate and made Solemn Oath to the Truth of the Same and Capt Jedediah Hyde of Said Norwich adds being himself on Oath that he was the Captain of the Same Company which the said Cuffee was Inlisted into, and that he always understood that the money that was Given to Cuffee at his Inlistment Purchased his Freedom
             Sworn Before me Benj. Huntington Justice of Peace