Jack Cudjo Banquante
My story involves slavery, warfare, freedom and prosperity.
I was born around the year 1723 in Africa, in what is now known as Ghana. I was enslaved, survived the journey to the New World, and was sold to the Coe family in Newark, New Jersey. They allowed me to retain my Akan name and I became a trusted and respected member of their household.
In 1777, the new Continental Congress sent a draft notice to my master, Benjamin Coe IV, but he was too old to serve, so he sent me in his place instead. During the war, I fought in the battles of Monmouth, Elizabethtown Point, Germantown and Yorktown. To thank me for my service, Mr. Coe granted me my freedom and bought me ten acres of land in Newark.
I used this land to establish a garden and start my own business, which helped me earn the respect of my peers and wealthy customers alike. I was buried in 1823, leaving behind a large family and a solid legacy as Newark’s first black businessman.Learn More