In 1839 while traveling from Sierra Leone to Cuba the enslaved cargo aboard the Spanish ship “La Amistad” revolted.

Led by Sengbe Pieh (a.k.a. Joseph Cinque) the thirty-six Africans ordered their surviving captors to return them to their homeland.

Instead, they were taken North where the ship was discovered off the coast of Long Island, New York.

Sengbe Pieh along with his fellow illegally enslaved African men, were accused of piracy and murder, and the American sailors who captured the Mende claimed them as their property.

At first the Mende had no means of communication, and because of that — they could not defend themselves in court…

Eventually an interpreter was found, and proper lawful court proceedings began.

The Court case dealt with two main issues:

1) The first being the claim by the Americans seeking ownership over the “cargo.”

2) The second issue was about whether the Spanish captors had been enslaving the Africans illegally.

It should be noted that while slavery itself was still practiced in the United States, the importation of slaves was no longer acceptable, nor was it legal.

Of course it is worth noting that illegal smuggling of people was still common, especially in the Southern States.

The case quickly became an international issue.

The Spanish Crown, encouraged by Sen. John C. Calhoun, demanded that President Martin Van Buren return the Spanish sailors and their slaves.

Of course, the Mende were not slaves, because they had been free British subjects that were illegally captured.

By this time the British people had fully abolished slavery and thus they demanded that their citizens be returned to their homeland.

The case also became a flashpoint for abolitionists, who hoped to strike a blow against the institution of slavery.

Former President John Quincy Adams served as a lawyer leading the defense of the Mende.

President Van Buren, hoping to not inflame tensions further, sided with the Spanish.

In what was one of the most dramatic and pivotal cases of the era, the arguments went all the way to the Supreme Court who on this day in 1841 ruled in favor of the Mende.

Their years-long odyssey was over, and their freedom secured.

They all chose to stay in America.

They came to be slaves but Providence and their Stout Actions made them all Free Men.

AS history turns out — they all found gainful employment and married to free women, and thus made American families and prospered in a State of Freedom.

God Bless.

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Amistad 2

Pictured above are two portraits: One of Singbe Pieh a.k.a. Joseph Cinque, and another Mende man known as Kimbo.


Dr Churchill


What a Great Ending to an amazing American story of Deliverance…

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