DARC Ethiophile Chronicles
On November 25, 1841 Thirty-five Amistad survivors returned to Africa.
Would you rather die than lose your freedom?
More than 150 years ago, a group of people from the West African
country of Sierra Leone answered yes to that question. After being
abducted from their home country by Portuguese slave traders and placed
on the schooner Amistad, 53 of the Africans followed the lead of Joseph
Cinqué in a revolt against the ship's crew. Cinqué was a member of the
Mende Nation. He lived in the Mende territory of Sierra Leone on the
West Coast of Africa. He was the son of a chief.
Also on March 9, 1841, the U.S. Supreme Court freed the 35 Africans who
survived the mutiny and cleared the way for their return home. Under
Cinqué's leadership, the mutineers spared the life of the Amistad
navigator, ordering him to sail the ship back to Africa. Instead, the
navigator guided the schooner northward, where it was discovered
drifting off the coast of Long Island and was then dragged into New
London, Connecticut, by the U.S. Navy.
President Martin Van Buren, who wanted to gain the political support of
pro-slavery voters, wanted Cinqué and his followers to stand trial for
mutiny, but a judge disagreed and ordered the government to escort the
Africans back to their home country.
The fight between Cinqué mutineers and President Van Buren didn't end
there. In an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court, former President
John Quincy Adams argued that the Africans on the Amistad were
illegally enslaved and "were entitled to all the kindness and good
offices due from a humane and Christian nation."
The court agreed, and Adams's victory in the Amistad case was a
significant success for the movement to abolish slavery.
Have you seen or heard about the movie "Amistad" that was made about