Ottobah Cugoano

Ottobah Cugoano
Richard and Maria Cosway, and Ottobah Cugoano 1784 (cropped) (cropped).jpg
Ottobah Cugoano, 1784 by Richard Cosway
Bornc.1757 (1757)
Diedc.1791 (aged 33–34)

Ottobah Cugoano, also known as John Stuart (c. 1757 – after 1791), was an African abolitionist and natural rights philosopher[1] from Ghana who was active in England in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Captured in present-day Ghana and sold into slavery at the age of 13, he was shipped to Grenada in the Lesser Antilles, where he worked on a plantation. In 1772 he was purchased by an English merchant who took him to England, where he was taught to read and write, and was freed following the ruling in the Somersett Case (1772). Later working for artists Richard and Maria Cosway, he became acquainted with British political and cultural figures. He joined the Sons of Africa, African abolitionists in England.

Early life

He was born Quobna Ottobah Cugoano in 1757 near Ajumako, in modern-day Ghana.[2] He was a Fanti.[2] His family was friends with the local chief.

At the age of 13, Cuguano was sold into slavery and transported to Grenada to work on an island plantation.[2] He worked in the Lesser Antilles until he was purchased in 1772 by an English merchant, who took him to England. That year, the merchant had Cuguano baptized as John Stuart; he was given his freedom in England following the decision in the Somersett Case (1772), which ruled there was no basis for slavery in English common law.

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