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The Amistad

"The story of the Amistad Rebellion began in 1839 when fifty-three Africans were kidnapped from their homes in Mendhi country, a region near modern-day Sierra Leone. The kidnapped Africans were loaded unto a slave ship bound to Cuba. After suffering the terrible journey across the Middle passasge, the ship arrived in Cuba, where the Africans were classified as native Cubans and sold at auction. Intending to transport them to another part of the island, the "owners" of the Africans loaded them onto a Schooner named "Amistad," which means friendship in Spanish. Three days into their journey, the Africans revolted killing two members of the crew. The Africans, led by a young Mendi named Sengbe Pieh, or "Cinque" to the Spaniards, ordered their "owners" to sail the Amistad back to Africa. The Africans were tricked into believing they were on their way home, and two months later, the battered Amistad arrived in Montauk Point Long Island, where the vessel and its"cargo" were seized by Federal troops. The Africans were charged with murder and piracy and jailed."                                                                                                                                                                    
"Under American Law if they were found guilty, they faced death or slavery. In an early trial the Africans were found innocent and their repatriation were ordered, but fearing a back lash by pro-slavery groups in an election year, President Martin Van Buren, appealed the verdict, and the Africans faced a second trial by the Supreme Court. Their case was defended by the elderly former president John Quincy Adams, who was persuaded by the abolitionists to take the case. Adams' case centered on the fact that under Spanish law, slavery was illegal. Quincy was victorious and the Supreme Court declared the Africans free and ordered their repatriation. In 1841 thirty-five survivors and five American missionaries sailed for Africa, later establishing a mission, which eventually formed the independent country of Sierra Leone."                                                                                                                                                                   
AMISTAD: The Return     Medium: oil on canvas            size: 52"x65" inches