Prince Whipple

The signing of the Declaration of Independence marked a call for freedom and liberty. They hoped to free the colonial peoples from the ruling of those far away. However, many of these Founding Fathers, certainly hypocritically, owned slaves! One such signatory was William Whipple, a representative of New Hampshire, who owned a slave by the name of Prince (or Prince Whipple). Further adding insult, Prince stood side-by-side with General Whipple during the War of Independence. In 1777, General Whipple saw that Prince was somewhat apathetic and distant. When asked why, Prince replied:

You are going to fight for your liberty, but I have none to fight for.

George Washington center, with who some claim to be Prince and General Whipple on the right
George Washington center, with who some claim to be Prince and General Whipple near front

Prince Whipple was born in Ghana with the name of Ambou. He was raised in a somewhat wealthy environment, with his elder brother being sent to America to study. Following his brother, his parents wanted Ambou to be given the same opportunities. So, four years after his brother’s return, ten-year-old Ambou left with his cousin for education. This would be an unfortunate journey.

William Whipple by Walter Gilman Page, 1897
William Whipple by Walter Gilman Page, 1897

The captain of the ship, as it turned out, had deceitful plans in mind. Upon reaching the Baltimore port, he sold the two boys as slaves. Prince, being purchased by Whipple, was brought to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. However, Prince became a very trustworthy man to the General. Stories of his dependability and honor can still be seen, including when he was entrusted  to bring home a “large sum of money” from Salem:

He was attacked on the road, near Newburyport, by two ruffians; one was struck with a loaded whip, the other one he shot, and succeeded in arriving home in safety

Prince was beloved by all who knew him…

Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, William C. Nell

When Prince explained his sadness to the General, Whipple is said to have completely reversed his beliefs. He promised Prince, that upon the war’s end he would gain his freedom. It is shown in the town records of Portsmouth that on 22nd of February, 1781 Prince Whipple was granted his rights as a freeman. He remained friends with William Whipple and soon raised a family with two daughters.

Ester Mollenoux, daughter of Dinah and Prince Whipple. Photograph discovered in Portsmouth's North Church vault.
Ester Mollenoux, daughter of Dinah and Prince Whipple. Photograph discovered in Portsmouth’s North Church vault.

4 thoughts on “Prince Whipple

    1. Oh wow! I must not have done enough research for this post and fallen for legend rather than fact. I apologize. I will be writing an edit to this post tomorrow to make sure the correct info is added.

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