The Amistad Goes on Sale

This famous schooner, and her cargo, are to be sold at New London on the 15th inst. by order of the U.S. Circuit Court for the district of Connecticut.

The cargo consists of dry goods, hardware, crockery, vermicilli, etc.. selected for a Spanish market. Also a mill for grinding sugar cane.

The negroes of the Amistad are still at (Westville) New Haven, in charge of Mr. Wilcox, the U.S. Marshal and are very comfortably situated. Their case is now in the hands of the Supreme Court of the U. States, who meet at Washington in January next.

If the court confirms the decision of the court below, the Africans will be immediately set at liberty.


Collection: The Liberator
Publication: The Liberator
Date: October 9, 1840
Title: The Amistad
Location: Boston, Massachusetts

About La Amistad

Amistad, a Spanish slave ship, left Havana, Cuba for Puerto Principe, Cuba. The ship carried 53 Mende captives (49 adults and 4 children), who had been captured from today’s Sierra Leone to be sold into slavery in Cuba. On July 2, Sengbe Pieh (later known in the United States as Joseph Cinqué) led the captives in a revolt against their captors.

Sengbe Pieh (later known in the United States as Joseph Cinqué)

Sengbe Pieh (later known in the United States as Joseph Cinqué)

The Mende had been brought into Havana aboard the larger specialized vessel Tecora and were being taken to a smaller port closer to a sugar plantation. In the main hold below decks, the captives found a rusty file. Freeing themselves, they quickly went up on deck and, armed with machete-like cane knives, successfully gained control of the ship and killed the captain and other crew members.

When they demanded to be returned home, the ship’s navigator, Don Pedro Montez, deceived them about their course and sailed the ship north along the North American coast to the eastern tip of Long Island, New York. Discovered by the Revenue Cutter USRC Washington, La Amistad was taken into custody.

The Mende were interned at New Haven, Connecticut, while the courts settled their legal status and conflicting claims regarding La Amistad’s ownership.

The illustration below is from “A history of the Amistad captives – being a circumstantial account of the capture of the Spanish schooner Amistad by the Africans on board, their voyage and capture near Long Island, New York, with biographical sketches of each of the surviving Africans: also, an account of the trials had on their case, before the district and circuit courts of the United States for the district of Connecticut.”

Slave Holding Area in La Amistad

Slave Holding Area in La Amistad

This 34 page pamphlet was published in 1840 and can be read below:


All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

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