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Cuff Liberty pay voucher

 Collection — Box: Currency, Stamps, and Miscellany Box, Folder: 001
Identifier: MSS 16821

Content Description

This collection contains one Revolutionary War pay voucher to Cuff Liberty, an African American soldier from Middletown, Connecticut, who was one of approximately 300 enslaved or freemen from Connecticut who fought for the Continental Army. The government-issued vouchers promised full payment by a certain date and paid interest until the full amount was collected. The voucher, measuring 8" X 4", is printed on laid paper with a black decorative border, numbered in ink "3958" for £13,6,7 1/2." Cuff Liberty's name is written in ink, and a circular cancellation hole is beneath it. It is signed by Treasurer John Lawrence, as "J. Lawrence." Written on the back, in ink, are notations of the interest payments from June 1783 through 1789. The principal was probably paid soon after 1789, evidenced by the interest payments and the circular punch-out cancellation, that the debt was cleared and the voucher was no longer valid for payment. According to research sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution, Cuff Liberty had been enslaved by William Ward of Middletown and manumitted in 1776 after purchasing his freedom. He enlisted in 1778 and served in the 6th, the 4th, and 2nd Regiments of the Connecticut Continental Line. This pattern, particularly the placement in Captain Humphrey's segregated company of the 4th, was common among African Americans serving on the Continental Line. Discharged in 1783, he later applied for and received bounty land. He is listed by William Cooper Nell in "Coloured Patriots of the American Revolution (1855); Thomas Moebs "Black soldiers, Black sailors, Black ink," and Bryna O'Sullivan, "Who was Private Cuff Liberty?" (Charter Oak Genealogy, July 2, 2021)


  • Creation: 1782 - 1789


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

No Copyright - United States: The Library believes that all or nearly all material in this collection is likely to be in the public domain, free of copyright restrictions. Visit our Permissions and Publishing page for more information about use of Special Collections materials. The library can provide copyright information upon request, but users are responsible for making their own determination about lawful use of collections materials.


.03 Cubic Feet (1 folder (letter))

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was purchased from Between the Covers by the Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia on October 20, 2023.

Condition Description

Good. The voucher is partially split along two vertical folds, mended with three small pieces of clear tape on the verso.

Guide to the Cuff Liberty pay voucher
Rose Oliveira-Abbey
February 26, 2024
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States