Amistad Trail (22 Sites)

Give us, us free. Give us, us free. Give us, us free. Give us, us free. Trail.
The Amistad Trail (part of the broader CT Freedom Trail)
5 Towns: Farmington, Hartford, Litchfield, New Haven, New London

Note: On February 15th, 2011 this trail grew from 16 to 21 sites (while losing 2) and got lovely new website. So if you come across numbers in the sub-articles that don’t add up, that’s way. The whole Freedom Trail is an ever-growing list of sites. I’m always playing catch-up. But there will come a day when I catch all the way up.

(Just noticed in May 2013, they’ve added another to Farmington. I must stop numbering things.)

And I will shout, “FREEDOM!”

cinqueport.jpgI’ve spent a good deal of time figuring out what is on the Amistad trail and what’s on the Freedom Trail and vice-versa and how they fit in with the Underground Railroad sites and … you get the point. Basically, the Freedom Trail encompasses ALL sites in Connecticut associated with the heritage and movement towards freedom of its African American citizens – and the Amistad Trail is a very important part of that.

In 1839, 53 Mendi Africans who were bound for slavery in Cuba aboard the ship Amistad took over the vessel under the leadership of Joseph Cinque. Although Cinque insisted that the ship be returned to Africa and he and his compatriots to their homes, the crew instead sailed into Long Island Sound, where the boat was taken into New Haven by the United States Navy.

What followed was a landmark case before the U.S. Supreme Court, successfully argued by former American President John Quincy Adams. Adams argued, and the court agreed, that all human beings were naturally free people and entitled to that freedom under American law. Subsequently, the Africans were freed and they chose to return to Sierra Leone.

What follows is a list of sites throughout the state that are important to this story. Each has a description of its importance to the Amistad story, as well as any other general historical information of interest. I will visit each site, take a picture, and note anything I feel should be noted.

* Historical text is from the Farmington Historical Society Freedom Trail brochure, the state’s Freedom Trail brochure, the Visit Connecticut website, and the wonderful Farmington Historical Society website.

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My visits:

Farmington (9 of 10)
Hartford (1)
New Haven (8 of 9)

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To Be Visited

Farmington
Chauncey Brown House

While awaiting the verdict of the Supreme Court for the Amistad Affair in 1841, the Amistad Committee made plans to send the Amistad captives from New Haven to Farmington upon their release. The girls, Temme, Kagne and Margru, were to be housed with the families of Horace Cowles, Timothy Cowles and the Reverend Mr. Noah Porter.

Horace Cowles died in February, 1841, prior to the arrival of the group in Farmington. Temme arrived at the home of his widow, Elizabeth Hurlburt Cowles, on March 19, 1841. The Widow Cowles moved to West Hartford and Temme went to the home of

Dr. Chauncey Brown, where she lived for most of her stay in Farmington.

Dr. Brown’s wife, Julia Strong Brown, wrote an article about her care of “Tamie” which was printed in The Farmington Magazine in February 1901. In it she wrote: “One of these by name of Tamie was sent directly to me and remained with me until their departure for their native land.”

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Litchfield
Tapping Reeve Law School

Out of his home on South Street, attorney Tapping Reeve developed the first curriculum for teaching common law and opened the first law school in the United States. Tapping Reeve’s success with the law school and the law he taught his students was critical in the arguments used in the Amistad Case. Shortly after Judge Judson’s initial hearing on the USS Washington, Dwight P. Janes, an abolitionist from New London, contacted Roger Sherman Baldwin, an attorney known as a defender of justice for the less fortunate. Baldwin, who attended the law school in 1812, was the primary lawyer for the Mende Africans and argued their case all the way to the Supreme Court. The Litchfield Law School launched the town into regional and national prominence. Ultimately, the small law school would boast of having educated two vice presidents of the United States, as well as 14 governors, 14 members of the federal cabinet, 28 U.S. Senators, 100 members of the House of Representatives, three members of the U.S. Supreme Court and many state and local public officials.

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New Haven

Freedom Schooner Amistad

The Freedom Schooner Amistad, a replica of the original vessel, was launched in May 2000 and participated in OpSail 2000 in New York City and New London, Connecticut before sailing to its homeport of New Haven. On a symbolic 2007 voyage retracing the infamous route of the triangular Atlantic slave trade, the Amistad visited Sierra Leone, Africa commemorating the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade. Her most recent voyage in 2010 celebrated the tenth anniversary of the vessel’s first launch. The Amistad travels as an educational ambassador, teaching lessons of history, cooperation, and leadership to Americans of all ages, interests and cultural backgrounds in the many ports it visits. The Freedom Schooner Amistad is Connecticut’s official State Flagship and Tall Ship Ambassador.

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New London
US Custom House

The U.S. Custom House, designed by architect Robert Mills in 1833, was where the cargo of La Amistad was auctioned in October 1840. A separate incident is recognized by a plaque on the building’s facade: in 1858, an escaped slave won his freedom through the legal efforts of Judge Augustus Brandegee and Custom official, John Mather. Two conflicting laws were on the books, the Connecticut Personal Liberty Law which would free the slave and the U.S. Fugitive Slave Act which would return him to slavery. Letting the slave make the decision if he wanted to be captive or free, the man chose freedom. The Custom House is now a museum, as well as a working custom house. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is maintained by the New London Maritime Society.

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3 responses to “Amistad Trail (22 Sites)”

  1. kerea says:

    this movie waz the best thing i ever saw it made history seem more interestin then i thought it could have been or wat they said it waz like

  2. Steve says:

    this comment was one of the werst on dis whole site.

  3. Geoff says:

    I hear that the City of Bridgeport is going to finance a historic Trail in the City to honor the Latin Kings and the Bridgeport Huns Motorcycle Club. It will be a tour of the city’s projects and several schools where famous rumbles took place. Sounds interesting.Ffather Panneck Village has great memories I hear.

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