The Capture of the Amistad

A Broadside Announcement

Original content by: Ryan Chalifour

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About This Document

This broadside depicts the 1839 insurrection of captive Africans from Sierra Leone aboard La Amistad. It was printed in New Haven, CT to advertise for John Warner Barber's illustrated  account of the insurrection. His complete account included first-hand witness testimonies, interviews, illustrations of the African captives during their trial, maps showing where they had been taken captive in Sierra Leone and details of the court case. This publication was released before the trail ended.

Read by Ryan Chalifour.

Historical Context

The schooner La Amistad became infamous when African captives who were being illegally transported revolted and took control of the ship in waters off Cuba. After freeing themselves from the Spanish crew onboard, the captives were unable to sail the ship back to Africa and instead followed the Gulf Stream up the Atlantic coast. The US Supreme court concluded that the captives had been born free in Africa, not as Slaves in Cuba, and could not be legally claimed as property. It was considered a major victory for the Abolitionist Movement and paved the way for the Emancipation Proclamation. More...

Questions for Further Thought

  1. The Amistad trial is one of the most famous cases in American History. What social changes were taking place in the country at that time which made it such a high profile case?
  2. Sierra Leone is a tropical country with rainforests and grassy savannahs. What types of weather and climate would the captive Africans have experienced for the first time while living in Connecticut?
  3. What does the outcome by the US Supreme Court reflect about changing opinions towards slavery in 1841?