Paul was born in 1759 to a freed slave Kofi Slocum (his last name comes from the man who freed him) and Ruth Moses, a Wampanoag Indian, and was the seventh of 10 kids!
Paul’s parents, when he was 8, bought 116 acres of farmland in Massachusetts (which is crazy for a former slave to even have). And from a young age Paul was all about boat building, trade, and navigation. In his early teens, Paul built small ships and traded among the Massachusetts islands.
During the Revolutionary War, his ship got seized by Britain and he was imprisoned for 3 months in New York. After he got out, he built another ship and then became a blockade runner delivering supplies to fight Britain in the war. He would sail at night or in stormy weather to avoid Britain ships.
He became a master of the seas in his early 20’s and after the war is where he REALLY BLOSSOMS. Encouraged by a prominent merchant Family, Paul started his business of importing and exporting goods using the ships HE PERSONALLY BUILT. All of his ships had ALL BLACK CREWS TO.
Eventually Paul had a mercantile EMPIRE. His influence grew, so big that he earned his RIGHT TO VOTE decades before slaves were even freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Not only that he taught himself to read and write, and wanted his kids to learn to.
Only issue is, no school would take black kids, SO HE CREATED ONE, AND HIRED A TEACHER. And then like a true G, INVITED HIS NEIGHBORS WHITE KIDS to his school. His is the FIRST integrated school. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE.
But wait there’s more! On his way back from a trip to Sierra Leone, Africa, in 1812 he found that his country (the US) was in a war with Britain and one of his ships were impounded. He went straight to Washington, KNOCKED ON THE PRESIDENT’S DOOR, demanded his ship back, AND HAD IN BACK IN 6 DAYS.
If you thought his story was over, think again, for years before he died, Paul used his ships to transport escaped and free slaves BACK TO AFRICA where he helped them settle in Sierra Leone. He died peacefully in 1817, leaving a legacy not many know.
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