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Great newspaper on the slave ship Amistad...



Item # 559999

August 31, 1839

PENNSYLVANIA INQUIRER, Philadelphia PA, August 31, 1839 

* Amistad slave ship mutiny
* Early report

Page two has a very early report on the now-famous slave ship "Amistad", the article headed: "The Suspicious Vessel". This article is very detailed and takes three-quarters of a column, noting the capture of the ship, the number of slaves on board, and the murders, etc.

Portions of the article include: "...the number of black was 54...The blacks, four nights after they were out, rose and murdered the captain and three of the crew. Pedro Montes, one of the passengers, and Jose Ruez, owner of the slaves, were only saved to navigate the vessel. The black were anxious to return to Africa..." with so much more, including mention of Cingues & others (see photos for the full text).

This famous slave ship incident was made famous a few years back by the Stephen Spielberg move "Amistad".

An early report, complete in 4 pages, very large folio size, very nice condition.

wikipedia notes: On June 27, 1839, La Amistad ("Friendship"), a Spanish vessel, departed from the port of Havana, Cuba, for Puerto Principe, also in Cuba (then a Spanish colony). The masters of La Amistad were the captain Ramón Ferrer, José Ruiz, and Pedro Montez, all of Spanish origin. With Ferrer was his personal slave Antonio. Ruiz was transporting 49 African slaves, entrusted to him by the Governor-General of Cuba. Montez held four additional African slaves, also entrusted to him by the Governor-General of Cuba. On July 2, 1839, one of the Africans, Cinqué, who had learned metalworking, managed to free himself and the other captives using an iron file. It had been found and kept by a woman on the Tecora (the ship that had transported them illegally as slaves from Africa to Cuba).

The Mende Africans killed the ship's cook, Celestino, who had told them that they were to be killed and eaten by their captors. The slaves also dispatched the vessel's captain in a struggle in which two of the rebelling slaves perished. Two sailors escaped in a lifeboat. The slaves spared the lives of the two crew members who could steer the ship, José Ruiz and Pedro Montez, upon the understanding that they would return the ship to Africa. They also spared the captain's personal slave, Antonio.

The navigator deceived the Africans and steered the Amistad north along the coast of the United States where the ship was sighted repeatedly. They dropped anchor half a mile off eastern Long Island, New York, on August 26, 1839, at Culloden Point. Some of the Africans went on shore to procure water and provisions from the hamlet of Montauk, New York. The vessel was discovered by the United States naval brig USS Washington. Lieutenant Thomas R. Gedney, commanding the Washington, observed some of the slaves on shore and, assisted by his officers and crew, took custody of the Amistad and the rebel slaves. He took them to the state of Connecticut and presented a written claim under admiralty law for salvage of the vessel, the cargo, and the Africans. Gedney allegedly chose to land in Connecticut because slavery was still technically legal there, unlike in New York, and he hoped to profit from sale of the slaves.

Gedney then relinquished all captured slaves into the custody of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, at which time proceedings began.

Category: Pre-Civil War

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