Join Amistad America and New London Maritime Society on the Amistad Pier in New London to commemorate the 175th Anniversary of the original La Amistad entering New London harbor in 1839 and of a New London grocer – abolitionist standing up for what he believed was right! Sound Affect Choir and a Drum Circle- led by Michael Mills will be there to help celebrate this important anniversary and turning point in the history of human rights.
The event will take place on Monday, August 25, at 6 PM. The ship will be open for touring prior to the event, from 2 to 6 PM.
Photo Credit: New London Maritime Society
To further commemorate the anniversary, Amistad America plans to have the Freedom Schooner Amistad at New London’s Amistad Pier from Saturday, August 23, through Monday, August 25, 2015. Two three-hour, 175th Anniversary sails are planned, on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 4 PM. The trips are FREE for the first 40 New London residents to pre-register, and $30 donation for all others. These sails carry 40 passengers apiece.
One hundred and seventy-five years ago, on August 25, 1839, La Amistad sat in New London Harbor. Nearby the US revenue cutter Washington, which had just intercepted La Amistad off Montauk, New York, held the Amistad captives under US custody.
On that day, New London grocer Dwight Plimpton Janes managed to get aboard the cutter for the initial legal hearing, and noticed that the captives were speaking in their native language. In fact, the Spaniard Jose Ruiz, one of the Amistad’s owners, mentioned to Janes that none of them spoke Spanish or English because they were ‘just from Africa.’ This comment was enough to convince Mr. Janes, an ardent abolitionist, that the captives were freeborn Africans, not Cuban slaves as the Spaniards claimed, and that the owners were breaking international law. Back onshore, Dwight Janes wrote to several prominent abolitionists: Roger S. Baldwin, a New Haven lawyer; Joshua Leavitt, editor of The Emancipator; and Lewis Tappan, a silk merchant. This action set into motion the sequence of events resulting in the first US Supreme Court cast to set enslaved people free.
Approximately one in 10 ships taking part in the slave trade experienced a revolt. La Amistad may have joined the ranks of these lesser-known incidents were it not for the advocacy efforts of one New London resident who stood up for the cause of freedom.