An article “The Slaver” from the New York Morning Herald Aug 28 1839
A letter written by, Kinna, an Amistad African to John Quincy Adams
An account of the slave fortress at Gallinas in West Africa, taken from the log of a slave ship
A grading rubric for the assignment
Your task is to write a 3-5 paragraph account based on one of the following
Imagine you are one of the characters in the story of the Amistad. You are writing a diary entry of your experiences. What would you write to describe what happened to you and how you felt?
You are living at the time of the Amistad incident and have observed some of the events depicted in the story. You are asked to write an article for a newspaper about the need to abolish this trade. What would you write?
CHECK THE GRADING RUBRIC BEFORE STARTING THIS TASK!
* April 1839: Slave ship Tecora leaves Lomboko, West Africa.
* June 1839: Tecora arrives in Havana. Jose Ruiz buys forty-nine adult males, paying $450 for each, and Pedro Montes buys four children, three girls and one boy.
* June 28, 1839: La Amistad sets sail for the other end of Cuba with fifty-three African captives, Ruiz, Montes and a crew of five.
* July 2, 1839: Africans revolt and seize control of La Amistad.
* July through August 1839: La Amistad sails east by day and north by night, up the U.S. coastline.
* August 25, 1839: La Amistad anchors off Long Island and lands ashore to obtain provisions.
* August 26, 1839: La Amistad is seized by U.S.S. Washington.
* August 27, 1839: La Amistad is brought to New London and the Africans are taken to a New Haven jail to await trial on charges of murder and piracy.
* September 9, 1839: Yale professor Josiah Gibbs finds British sailor and Mende speaker James Covey on the docks of New York and takes him to New Haven to serve as a translator.
* September 19, 1839: The first round of trials begins in the U.S. Circuit Court at Hartford.
* November 19, 1839: The second round of trials begins in Hartford, with Judge Judson presiding.
* January 8, 1840: Sengbe testifies in court.
* January 13, 1840: Judge Judson rules that the Africans were illegally enslaved and orders them to be returned to Africa. The Van Buren administration appeals the District Court decision.
* February 22, 1841: U.S. Supreme Court begins hearing the Amistad case.
* February 24, 1841: John Quincy Adams begins presenting his argument.
* March 9, 1841: Justice Story delivers the Supreme Court’s decision, affirming the Africans’ freedom.
* November 27, 1841: African survivors and American missionaries depart New York for Africa aboard “The Gentleman.”
January 15, 1842: “The Gentleman” arrives in Sierra Leone.
"The Slaver," New York Morning Herald, August 28, 1839.
“There was considerable excitement in the city throughout yesterday about the "suspicious vessel." She has been seen so often, and at each time manifested so much piratical feeling towards other vessels, that the people are beginning to get alarmed for the safety of their ships and friends. She was seen again last Saturday off Montague by the brig Neptune, and it is hoped that she has been captured ere this. If those on board had no intention at first of becoming pirates, farther than to liberate themselves from slavery, their necessities will compel them to resort to some rash act. Yesterday we gathered the particulars respecting her capture by the blacks which, are as follows: Her name is La Amistiad, and she sailed from Havana the 8th of last month for St. Jago de Cuba, with a captain, crew, several passengers, and fifty-nine blacks. They, together with the cargo, were owned by Mr. Cavrias, of Punto Punepe, who, with Mr. Joseph Ring, his nephew, were on board as passengers. When two days out from Havana, the blacks rose upon and murdered all but two of the whites on board. These two were sailors, and escaped by jumping overboard, and in the long-boat reached shore. The knives which they are reported to carry are what are called in Cuba Machetes, and are used by the negroes in cutting the sugar cane. One of the sailors in leaping overboard received a severe cut from one of them.It is reported that she has three tons of money on board, and that the blacks have now three cannon and a ferocious white fellow with large mustachios for Captain. In a week hence, if she is not captured in the meantime, this slaver will be increased into a very formidable piratical vessel, with a hundred men and "fixens" to match.
Letter from Amistad African, Kinna, to John Quincy Adams
Kinna to John Quincy Adams, Jan.4, 1841. Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
Westville Jan. 4th 1841
I want to write you a few lines my dear friend because you love us, and because you talk to the great court, and tell America people to make us free. We want to go home to Mendi and see our fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters. When we in ship we have no waters; we came on shore for waters.
We see American people. American people say we have no slaves and we make you free. They promise us to make us free. Mr. Tappan comes from New York and gives us Bible. He brings good tidings; he say we make you free. Then the court no let us go; then call Mendi people come to New Haven and Judge Judson say you be free, but Government say Kinne tell you manfriend no believe wicked people.
Some White people, good, not all, some bad. Wicked people say Mendi people lie, steal, Mendi people drink wine, Mendi people swear, Mendi people all bad. Dear friend, bad people say so. Mendi people no lie, not steal, no swear, no drink rum, no fight. What Mendi fight for? Mendi people love one another. Mendi people pray every evening and every night and every morning. Mendi people pray God forgive their sins and make them good. Mendi people pray God bless their teachers and you, Dear Friend, and Mr. Baldwin, and help you talk to the great court. Mendi people pray God give success, a good heart that they let us go free, dear friend. May you have heart to see Mendi people. You thought Mendi people bad people. No. Bad people say Mendi people murderers because we kill Captain and cook. If we have knife and come to America people and say I kill and eat, what America people do? Mendi people no kill Captain and cook; they no kill us. Mendi people no hurt any body.
Dear Friend Mr. Adams. We love you very much & beg you to tell court let Mendi people be free. We beg you to talk hard. You make us free and we thank you very much and we pray for you every day and when we go home to Mendi we tell our fathers and Mothers and brothers and sisters to pray for Mr. Adams, and they all will thank you very much my dear friend.
Your friend Kinna
Extract from Slaver’s Logbook: Description of Gallinas
Gallinas, in the latitude 7° 05' N and longitude 11° 35' W, the notorious slave mart of the Northwest Coast of Africa, is a river whose entrance and interior is not navigable but to boats and small crafts. Four years back, the shores of this shallow river were colonized by Spanish slave dealers who, while they remained undisturbed, accumulated several fortunes.
At the time of my arrival here in the beginning of 1836, two large factories monopolized this lucrative trade, but other minor establishments also opposed the larger ones and in time succeeded in erecting establishments as abundantly and well supplied in goods as others. However, the influence that Don Pedro Blanco had gained over the natives was never equaled by any other Spaniard.
The indigenes of this river, who are called Vye, were not numerous before the establishment of the Spanish factories, but since 1813 when several ships from Cuba landed their rich cargoes, the neighboring cities flocked to this river, and as there is much similarity in their languages, they soon became naturalized with the aborigines of its sandy and marshy soil.
As the new upstarts grew up educated under the influence of the rich Spanish factories, they imbibed the habits of slave hunting while they despised other occupations and in their idleness, panted but for wars and captures. Slaves in time became scarce, and the youth of the day, cradled in indolence, sought distraction in slave wars, which ever yield a rich reward.
Time brought into notice this slave mart, and merchants from Havana sent out agents to establish their deposits of goods and permanent barracoons. The double and treble call for slaves soon depopulated the immediate Interior, when it became urgent for the natives of Gallinas to extend their wars further into the Interior. And in a few more years this river was surrounded with wars, but as the slave factories supplied them with powder and guns, they made headway against a multitude of enemies who, not understanding the politics of alliance, fought them separately and were generally repulsed.
Still the demand increased, and auxiliary slave factories were established north and south. The Bar or Sheborough River became a tributary in slaves to the Gallinas, Mana Rock, Sugaree, Cape Mount, Small Cape Mount, even Digbay at the door of Monrovia had a deposit and barracoons belonging to whites of Gallinas.
Useful Sites relating to Amistad
The Story of the Amistad: - good sites for finding out details of the story:
Awesome Stories.com – an easy to read narrative in sections with links to images, maps etc
NPS.gov – a shorter summary of the story
http://www.nps.gov/history/nR/travel/amistad/amistadstory.htm The Amistad Incident
http://amistad.mysticseaport.org/main/welcome.html http://www.amistadamerica.org/ The Atlantic Slave Triangle:
Overviews of the Slave Trade
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/africa/features/storyofafrica/ http://africanhistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa080601a.htm http://library.thinkquest.org/13406/ta/ Images of the Slave Trade
http://hitchcock.itc.virginia.edu/Slavery/search.html Database of statistics on the Slave Trade