“I am pleased beyond expression at the splendid gathering here today. By the erection of this lasting memorial, I hope to awaken and stimulate energy and ambition in the rising generation of Negro youth that they may profit thereby.”
(Horatio P. Howard speaking at the dedication of the Captain Paul Cuffe Memorial, June 1913)
Westport has Horatio P. Howard to thank for the memorial to Paul Cuffe that stands in the front yard of the Westport Friends Meeting House. Placed in a location that can be seen from the road, many of us drive by the monument multiple times a day.
The monument is strikingly simple in concept, bearing the words:
“Patriot, Navigator, Educator, Philanthropist, Friend, A Noble Character.”
It was designed by Samuel T. Rex of New Bedford, and made from blue Westerly granite. (Rex Monumental Works is still in operation today.)
Who was Horatio P. Howard?
He is described as “a Negro of no little distinction in his particular group.” (The Journal of Negro History). Born in New Bedford in 1854, Howard was the great grandson of Captain Paul Cuffe and the child of Shadrach and Helen Howard. He was educated in Fall River, graduating fourth in his class.
By 1888 he had moved to New York, serving as a clerk in the Custom House in New York City where “he accumulated considerable wealth which, inasmuch as he lived and died a bachelor, he disposed of for philanthropic purposes.” He funded a number of scholarships in honor of Paul Cuffe.
“Hoping to inculcate an appreciation of the achievements of his great grandfather, he erected to his memory a monument at a cost of $400 dedicated in 1913 with appropriate exercises by the people of both races.” (The Journal of Negro History)
The dedication of the monument took place in June 1913 “in the peaceful grounds of the Friends meeting house” with about 200 people in attendance. A flower brigade of school children assembled in front of the monument and led by Horatio P. Howard marched to the graves of Captain Paul Cuffe and his wife, and scattered flowers upon the graves. The children who took part were: Doris Macomber, Clara Helger, Ruth Wood, Ann Cameron, Rachel Bowman, Luther Bowman, Stanley Gifford, Robert A. Gifford, Louise Potter, Marion Potter, Maggie Hallsworth, Margarita F. Blake.
The exercises were led by Reverend Tom Sykes, minister for the Westport Friends, and the principal address was given by Elizabeth C. Carter of New Bedford. Elizabeth C. Carter Brooks was a well-known educator and social activist, the fourth President of the National Association of Colored Woman’s Club and the NAACP and she became the first African American school teacher in New Bedford. Both Horatio P. Howard and Samuel T. Rex, stone mason and designer of the monument, spoke at the event.
Howard printed small booklets entitled “A Self-Made Man Capt. Paul Cuffee” which were distributed at the dedication. Today, these booklets are collector’s items and are preserved in various local archives.
Howard died in 1923. Both Horatio P. Howard and Samuel T. Rex (the stone mason) are buried in New Bedford’s Rural Cemetery. Howard’s lasting contribution to Westport exemplifies the philanthropic tradition passed down from his great grandfather, Captain Paul Cuffe.The Paul Cuffe Memorial is one of 22 sites highlighted in the Westport Heritage Map. Pick up your FREE copy at Partners Village Store or at the Westport Public Library.
With thanks to Carl Cruz.
The Journal of Negro History, Apr., 1923, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Apr., 1923), pp. 243- 245 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2713618
Fall River Daily Evening News June 9, 1913
Obituary, The New York Age Feb 24, 1923