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February 1839: The Amistad Rebellion

In February 1839, slave hunters abducted a group of Africans from Sierra Leone and shipped them to Havana, Cuba to be sold as slaves. Their kidnappings violated all treaties then in existence. When they arrived in Cuba, two Spanish plantation owners, Pedro Montes and Jose Ruiz, purchased 53 slaves to work their Caribbean plantation. They loaded the slaves aboard the Cuban schooner Amistad. On July 1, while sailing through the Caribbean, the captured slaves organized a mutiny. One of the slaves, Sengbe Pieh (also known as Joseph Cinque), freed himself and loosed others. They killed the captain and the ship’s cook, seized the ship, and ordered Montes and Ruiz to sail to Africa.

Under the guise of heading towards Africa, Montes and Ruiz sailed the ship north instead. The Amistad zigzagged up the east coast for nearly two months. On August 26, 1839, it dropped anchor off the tip of Long Island and a few of the men went ashore for fresh water. Soon, the US Navy brig Washington sailed into view. Thomas R. Gedney, commanding officer of the Washington, assumed those on board were pirates. He ordered his men to disarm the Africans and capture everyone including those who had gone ashore for water. They were all transported to Connecticut where officials freed the Spaniards but charged the Africans with murder upon the high seas.

Amistad Memorial
New Haven, Connecticut

The murder charges were eventually dismissed, but the Africans remained imprisoned and their case sent to Federal District Court in Connecticut. The plantation owners, the government of Spain, and Gedney all claimed some sort of compensation. The plantation owners wanted their slaves back, the Spanish government wanted the slaves returned to Cuba where they would likely be put to death, and Thomas Gedney felt he was entitled to compensation under maritime law that allowed salvage rights when saving a ship or its cargo from impending loss.   

The district court ruled that the case fell within Federal jurisdiction. The ruling was appealed, and the case sent to the Supreme Court. Former president John Quincy Adams argued on behalf of the Africans. He said they were innocent because international laws found the slave trade was illegal. Thus, anyone who escaped should be considered free under American law.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Africans and ordered their immediate release. Abolitionists who had supported their cause raised funds to return them to Africa. On November 26, 1841, nearly three years after their abduction, the Africans departed New York City bound for home. Only 35 of them made it back. The others died at sea or while in custody.

The original 19th-century manuscripts from the Amistad case and our entire Black History collection are available to search for free this month on Fold3!

104 Comments

  1. It seems there is a lot more to be said here that has been omitted…..How many died at see…..of what cause, etc. were they murdered or mistreated??? Who owned the ship they were on???etc……

    • I would further research for actual documentation on this case. This article is probably just a summary historical events.

    • I share the same questions??? Please share all the valuable information. Thank you.

    • I suggest you watch the movie which is very good and self explanatory.
      I’ve watched it about five or six times. The movie is just called “Amistad”. Well worth it I think.

    • James, this article is a short summary of the Amistad. To do a deep dive, I suggest going to the original manuscripts. They are written with quill and ink but fascinating to study. We have the original court records for both the Federal court and the Supreme Court on Fold3.

    • The word is Sea, not see!

    • The beginning of the article mentioned there were 53 originally. 35 made it back to Africa. I would assume then, that 18 died.

    • perhaps opening and reading a history book could answer your questions!Or you could go to your town library

  2. It seems there is a lot more to be said here that has been omitted…..How many died at see…..of what cause, etc. were they murdered or mistreated??? Who owned the ship they were on???etc……
    I refreain from sending comments because YOU always reply that I have already sent it…..NOT SO……

  3. For those interested in reading a much more detailed account of these slaves’ saga-I recommend you pick up a copy of “Black Mutiny” (1953/1968) by William A. Owens. It is an excellent read and was one of many historical sources for the motion picture “Amistad”. The movie wasn’t bad-the book is much better and far more detailed-as books tend to be. Thanks Fold3 for acknowleding the anniversary of this unfortunate chapter in American History and its bittersweet ending.

    • Thanks. I will look for it.

    • Thanks, I love reading books, more than watching a movie interpretation, they leave out so many important facts that they don’t have time to put into the movie.

    • Thanks for the name of the book.

    • It was an unfortunate chapter but not so much on the American side of it. I’m not sure but others here say the Africans were originally captured into slavery by other black Africans. I do read elsewhere that a Portuguese trader send them to Cuba on a Portuguese ship. Then the Amistad itself was a Spanish ship. Cuba then belonged to Spain. While maybe not 100% pure, America’s involvement in these events shone like gold compared to all other parties.

    • An unfortunate chapter in American History? How about Cuban History! It was an American and future president who fought for freedom for these people!

    • Your post is civil and informative. Thank you.

  4. From where do you spin out “this unfortunate chapter in American History” when the verdict was “anyone who escaped should be considered free under American law”.

    • Slavery has many , very sad , unfortunate chapters of our history. (actually worse than “unfortunate.) That only 35 people of the original, probably several hundred on the Armistad , made it back home is indeed a very sad and unfortunate (terrible) chapter . How can you call this just a “spin”?

      The only saving grace is that former John Quincy Adams argued in the Africans favor and the Supreme court ruled in their favor.

    • Relax, sir. I was talking about the fact that these unfortunate people were taken as slaves in the first place, suffered for over 3 years, and that many of them died in the process. Why would I be thanking Fold3 for acknowledging the anniversaryof the event if I felt the court decision was “unfortunate”. What happened to the slaves aboard the Amistad was the unfortunate part of the story.

    • Correct, Raymond. But, in relating history, the addition of a clause imputing this country’s guilt to any event related to slavery – even if performed by others – is demanded by those who are educated in “racial guilt.” “Education” is “education,” and generally should not be confused with knowledge.

    • If you read the article, Holmberg, you would have known there were only 53 on the Armistad, not several hundred.

    • Quite simply anyone can see lives were lost so yes its true they were set free but how many unnecesary deaths did the illegal abduction cause?

    • “Unfortunate chapter”? This upheld the rule of law as argued by Adams

    • My take was the reply meant that the malicious acts from one group was passed to this country to “fix it” and take on the responsibility while muddle thru the greed and arrogance of the parties still expecting to gain a profit. The “unfortunate” part was that it took so long to unravel the lies (not to mention vanity in possibility of tarnishing their reputations)…… and causing lives to be unnecessarily lost. There was never really any freedom gained….

    • It was unfortunate in that the Africans should have been freed immediately the truth was learned about how they got there. They were taken into custody and their fate was uncertain for a considerable amount of time as various people haggled and argued over possession of them. That surely must have been yet another form of mental torture for those unfortunate souls. I am glad they were eventually released and the survivors returned to their home. I only wish that more of them had been saved

    • Jeremiah 10:23 I well know, O Jehovah, that man’s way does not belong to him. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.

      Ecclesiastes 8:9 All of this I have seen, and I applied my heart to every work that has been done under the sun, during the time that man has dominated man to his harm

      We can follow good advice (the tried and true principles from the Bible)…..a humble attitude is very strong if applied without compromising the accurate knowledge we gain from studying the Bible in earnest

    • People, it doesn’t say unfortunate chapter in American History… It actually says but not for American side…
      Read it again…

  5. Under whose control was Cuba?
    What would happen today in the US under similar circumstances? Would ICE have been ordered to gas and/or shoot the black mutineers before their story was known?
    I wonder…

    • No I’m sure they would be fed, clothed and given medical treatment unlike if they landed on most any other shoreline of the Americas

    • You have to be kidding. Are you that cynical?

    • What flavor is your koolaid?

    • You have got to be freaking kidding me…..You really believe that ICE would “gas” or “shoot” the imprisoned Africans….shame on you for further racial hatred and divisiveness.

    • No Barbara, they would be given the key to our country, fed, clothed, given a place to stay, educated, and given free medical care, all so a few tawdry people could garner their vote in an election they shouldn’t be allowed to vote in. The sky is the limit for illegals now. I know this is mean but enough is enough.

      As for this article, the only thing the U.S. was remiss in was dragging their feet in bringing their captivity to an end. They were enslaved by other people not Americans. We eventually, to our credit, released them. I’m sorry for their plight but it’s too late now.

    • Your opinion stated here is just so, so sad. Sad, because these leaps of thought from facts to total fiction is the new normal for the left leaning ( I refuse to say thinking because there’s obviously not much of that going on here), it’s “OK” because you have the 1st amendment to The United States Constitution to hide behind. You can, and do, say anything you wish, whenever you wish, without any obligation to know what it is you are saying.

      Gas and shoot? How can a human mind leap from “under who’s control was Cuba?”, in 1839, to suggesting the US Government in 2019 is murderous? Is that how far you’ve gone with your detached “logic”? Is that what your High Priestess, Nancy, has you believing this country is about? Oh, that’s right, she doesn’t think it’s wrong for doctors to murder children who otherwise would live outside the womb under the euphemism of “late-term” abortions. That’s true, so I’ve answered my own question on where you might be getting that type of thinking from.

      That’s just disgusting. Wake up America. Disjointed logic is rampant all the way down this thread. Read it, and weep for our country. It’s everywhere. We’re already a long way down the slippery slope of giving away the country to minds that think like this, pushing their agenda at any cost. We’ll all wake up some day and say, “What happened?”

  6. What is really sad, our schools, public or private place little value on history and gives a cursory glimpse. There are more emphases placed on the most recent events and a particular ethnic group than groups that were illtreated and discriminated against. By natures design (God’s) those who could not immerse themselves where further discriminated against, even by those who were able to become part of the established clan.

  7. . . . slave hunters abducted a group of Africans from Sierra Leone . . . .
    It should be noted that most of the slave hunters were Africans who captured members of rival tribes, and then sold them to slave traders, thereby making money for themselves. This is one of the heartbreaking parts of the slave trade that is difficult to comprehend today. Many African Americans who tour the slave trade sites in Africa have a very difficult time with this part of their history. And rightly so.

    • It is actually not that hard for us to deal with as a people because most of us know our history. The hard part to deal with is instead of focusing on who sold who we would rather justice be done with whom bought whom and killed and tortured whom. Where there is no demand there is no need for supply. Greed is unfortunately, one of the ugliest human traits that we all share to some extent. If the slave buyers never went there looking to buy human life with the intent to dehumanize them to make them work as machines to build their wealth, none of this would have occured. I hold both sides of the transactions responsible, however, I am always concerned when someone turns the conversation to the fact that the “Africans” sold their own people. This is wrong in 2 fold, 1 being that it was rival tribes who were greedy and fighting for control who were hunting and selling the people of peaceful and respectful tribes. 2 it was not families selling their kin to the white man as some would make it seem. You should read (if you haven’t already) the novel written by Zora Neale Hurston titled Barracuta The Last Black Cargo.

  8. It is true that the black Sub-Saharan Africans did practice capturing members of other tribes and sold or traded them to foreigners either for goods or rum thru the 17th & 18th centuries.
    May I say that many black-
    Americans who tour certain sites in West African countries have no idea that this was the case. Even today, slavery still exists and is practiced in
    several countries in West Africa.

    • The Biggest “Appetite “ for Slaves was the American Plantation Owners who were dumbly and arrogantly willing to fight a Civil War to keep and to expand the abhorrent Institution of Slavery in America.Greed and a fostered culture of inhumanity prevailed far too long in the Southern United States by a criminal profit seeking corrupt so called elite.

    • While visiting Haiti in 2010 I was told that even today if a orphaned child is taken in by relatives that child is used as a slave for the family

    • Robert. Erkeley……..The African slave trade was abolished in 1808. The civil war had much more to do with economics/tariffs than slavery. You should read a history book.

    • It’s not just Africa, the slave trade is alive and well all over the world, mostly little girls, sold for their virginity to disgusting perverts. The world has a problem, everyone needs to get involved, stop the slave trade everywhere.

    • Might I say that as an African American living in the U.S. I know this information due to education that has been taught in our families, movies, music, and HBCUs. This information is not taught in the history books of U.S. public schools. However, the history of the African sellers is an important but small aspect of the American history that has not been told. Slavery and physical/mental abuse which occured in America is the history that most White Americans and sme African Americans do not want to acknowledge. The selling of my ancestors happened for the same reason that the politics in America have went rogue, there are a few who want more money and power all for themselves and they are willing to separate children from mothers (just like they did once they brought the African here), they are willing to tirn a blind eye to the dangers that other humans are in because of poverty and greed and they are spewing hate to accomplish their goals. Slavery has existed since the beginning of time across the world including Europe. However, the difference is the treatment of the slaves here in America. The goal was never to allow us freedom but it was to work us in the cotton fields and sugar cane plantations until we were no longer able to perform and that meant death. By any means necessary were my ancestors made to be productive to their “Master”. The most brutal, shameful, and embarrassing part of American history happened once the Africans were in the hands of the buyers.

    • Muslims were and still are operating the slave trade.

    • When you sell your own into slavery, you and yours will eventually become enslaved.

      Happened when Joseph was sold by his brothers, and then the brothers’ descendants eventually became enslaved.

  9. Well written on a touchy subject!

  10. Great story. But my question regards the Korean War. Maybe someone can help me out on this one. After being repatriated on Sep. 1, 1953 I was chatting with Gen. Taylor and photographer Msg. Al Chang, took our photo. He said a copy would be sent to my home. It never was. I’ve been searching for that photo ever since. The National Archives in College Park, MD, told me they have no photos of the Korean War or the POW exchange taken after 30 August 1953. So, question is, What happened to all those photos taken from 1 sep 53 to the completion of the POW Exchange.

    • I don’t have an answer, but there was/is a POW Society of some sort. Perhaps they could provide better guidance.

    • Bill
      I don’t think you’re likely to get help in this Amistad thread. You might want to search Korean War sites, threads and such so you can target this towards people likely to know these things.

  11. It was a sad story/movie. But…let it go. We can never have a true future dwelling on hate in the long ago past. There are SO many black on white hate crimes due to that worn out slavery thing. When does it end???? We’ve long stopped hating Germans and Japanese over WWII. Keep up hating, and blaming and whining, the violence and you’ll be racist forever. It works with races reversed.

    • It ends in reparations, full admissions and truth-telling and reconciliation.

    • Until we can open a meaningful dialogue about slavery, we will continue to suffer from it’s terrible legacy. It’s not about hating or whining. It’s about folks wanting to sweep it under the rug and asking black people (and some white people) to “forget about it”. No.

    • Yes it would be a great thing to move forward, however racism is STILL alive and thriving! Which is the major reason African Americans can not let it go. And until things change and fairness and equality is nurtured Blacks will CONTINUE to speak out and act out on racist behavior in the world. Trust and believe the cries are not whining; they are cries of a stolen culture, language and demise of the Black family unit! Slavery was a horrific crime on an entire race of people on how it came about but Why! Many feel it was a form of cultural genocide. The Jews are still given a platform to speak on the cruel crimes committed against them…. such atrocities against humanity should NEVER BE FORGOTTEN! The same respect should be allowed/given to Blacks. So easy to say move on move forward when such hateful crimes have been committed to a race of people; with very few signs of regret.

    • After having been to a part of Africa, I can only share what a fellow (black) colleague said, “Slavery is awful, but thank gawd I grew up in America, not here.” (He was referring to the poverty & grime we observed.)

    • 41.6 percent of the African American population is in at least one government assistance program in a given month. How many billion$ have been given? Reparations? It’s already been done.

    • Wow, blaming and whining. Worn out story compared to Wars that were fought by soldiers. So many Black on white crimes carried out because of these slave stories. What is sad is that you speak as if this did not and does not affect me currently. Do you realize that there have been far more white on black murders on U.S. soil every year since Africans have been brought to this country? Do you realize that right now on Ancestry.com there are 1000’s of African Americans reaching out to their White family who does not want to acknowledge that they share the same blood? Do you not realize that this was not a war but human atrocities that occurred for 100’s of years not a few years like a war? This happened to multiple generations of humans and you say we are whining? It is people like you no matter what color you are that allowed this to happen in the 1st place. People like you who looked at this as a trend and someting that was beneath them to speak against. When was the last time in recorded history a white man was beaten, lynched, or maimed by a mob of black men for any reason? There is a difference between crime that has been commited by black individuals such as robbery, rape, and even murder that had more to do with the fact that someone had something another wanted and was willing to take it by violence versus crime that has been specifically committed because they were white. Stop comparing evils of the past because there is none in the history of the world that occured the way American slavery did nor as long as it continued.

    • Absolutely. Thanks for saying.

    • You will get no ease from this land. This was a punishment for disobeying Father Yah. GEN 15:12-14 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. Look up HR1242 signed by President Trump. The black people living in America are not ordinary so-called called African-American they are Hebrews that were in exile from they homeland. If we want to have serious talk let’s start telling the truth about the people that were in possession throughout the Americas.

  12. You go, Myrtle! You are absolutely right.

  13. Quite a complicated story. Very interesting.
    Thank you.

  14. I thought Steven Spielberg’s film did a good job of outlining the entire event in dramatic fashion. It didn’t change focus to make the white characters like Adams the main ones although it could have.

    It seemed Cinque’s character was the soul of the movie and underlined the victory and tragedy of the event when our country was still fairly young.

    I’m sure the book is much more exhaustive and complete, you can’t give all the facts in 2 hrs.

  15. I guess nobody has a very good grasp on the most Cruel Form of Modern Slavery _ Conspired, Fraud_ridden War_Slavery & Heartless Treachery under cover of “Legality” & “aggravatedly_perpetuated” judicially. And am referring to the well_schemed July 26, 1941 U.S. President Roosevelt, Criminal Executive Order _ subjecting to the “DEATH PENALTY” of ARTICLES OF WAR #58, first, all 21 year old and later in 1942 all 18 year old “FILIPINO NEGRO”. AGGRAVATING the CONSPIRED CRIMINAL WAR_SLAVERY, all WAR_CONSCRIPTED “FILIPINO NEGRO” were NEVER FULLY & EQUALLY PAID of Monthly WAR_PAY, ALLOWANCES, BURIAL & FUNERAL BENEFITS. COMPOUNDING THE WAR & HATE_CRIME, by a “DOUBLE JEOPARDY” U.S. FEDERAL POLICY in SECTION 107, 38 U.S.C. WAR_CONSCRIPTED SERVICE ALREADY SERVED “UNDER DEATH PENALTY” FOR “DESERTION” WAS/IS DEEMED “NOT ACTIVE” SERVICE_DUTY for VA & SSA CONCURRENT BENEFITS, RIGHTS & PRIVILEGES. EFFECTIVELY ALL “FILIPINO NEGRO” WAR_CONSCRIPTEES WERE TYRANNICALLY MADE “ALIENS” DIVESTED OF WAR_EARNED (INHERENTLY/DETIVATIVELY) VA & SSA CONCURRENT BENEFITS, RIGHTS & PRIVILEGES. And if ever found “ENTITLED” VA BENEFITS WERE REDUCED TO HALF ENJOYED EVEN BY “EXPEDITEDLY”_NATURALIZED “UNDOCUMENTED”, “RACIALLY_BARRED, NAY EVEN “ALIEN_ENEMIES”. Multiplying RACIST WAR_SLAVERY & INDIGNITY despite BEING U.S. NATIONALS BUT ENTITLED TO SECTIONS 303 & 324 “EXPEDITED” ‘NATURALIZED’ U.S. CITIZENSHIP they were NEVER INFORMED & GIVEN APPLICATION FORMS. FLAGRANTLY AGGRAVSTING THE FORBIDDEN 13TH AMENDMENT CRIMINAL SLAVERY & THE “CRUEL & UNISUAL PUNISHMENT” VERBOTEN BY THE 8TH AMENDMENT & VULGARLY DESECRATING 5TH, 14TH AMENDMENTDMS’ RESPECTIVE “DUE PROCESS & EQUAL PROTECTION” CLAUSES, SECTION 405 OF IMMACT 1990 WAS JUDICIALLY SANCTIONED COMPLICATED BY THE SSI LEGALIZED WELFARE BENEFITS. BUT ONLY FOR “ALIEN_RESIDENTS” & “VERY_LATELY_NATURSLIZED” U.S. CITIZEN “FILIPINO NEGRO” VETERANS OF WORLD WAR 2 (WW2). So WAR_CRIME OF SLAVERY BY CONSCRIPTION IS THE CRUELEST, TYRANNICAL FORM OF MODERN PROFITABLE,SLAVERY_LEGISLATION BY JUDICIAL SANCTION. And this the whole Nation or the world for that.matter does not pay any VERY SERIOUS ATTENTION for VERY IMPORTANT, FINAL & PERMANENT SOLUTION. For this is the WORST & MOST INHUMAN CORRUPTION that drives the whole HUMAN RACE to EXTINCTION. Per my honest and long, well_reflected opinion. Thank you for your kind and patient reading with serious attention.GOD BLESS A TRULY RENEWED AMERICA STRONGLY BUILT & FOUNDED SOLIDLY “IN GOD WE TRUST”. NEVER “IN GOD WE ‘THRUST’ which NOW HAPPENING.

    • Prisco
      You might have some good points, but if you’re going to respond in one long paragraph with mostly CAPS (which is yelling on the internet) why should anyone want to read it?

      Make your point in shorter sentences and we can figure out what you’re trying to tell us.

    • I suggest before you post that you read out loud to yourself what you are writing. There were soooo many ALL CAPS, which should only be used sparingly for emohasis, that it detracts from what you’re writing.
      Also, have a friend help you with your writing. I’m into history, but after less than a minute, I stopped reading. It was so jumbled, too many caps, that I just gave up.

  16. This a terrible story Most white Americans have never been told that slavery was alive in the 1920s Some poor black Americans had to sell their children because they couldn’t afford to support them. Read the book The Imansapation of Robert Sadler

    • That happened to white families as well. During hard times, all through out the centuries, poor families did what they had to do to survive. One of those things included ‘parceling’ children out, not for pay, but to have one less mouth to feed. I have personally known some of these children as adults. Some children as young as seven worked to support the family, being the main breadwinner, never going to school. I have personally known some, all deceased now. Others were simply abandoned, and were either adopted or became indentured servants when they became 10 or 12. Poverty doesn’t know color.

  17. The Amistad was an actual event. The mutiny on the sea was made into a movie, and centered around the presidency of John Quincy Adams. The Amistad Mutiny, in many ways was a part of the historical process, that drove enslaved Afro-Americans such as Dred Scott and others (prior to the Scott case), to fight for their freedom. We should all embrace all our history in America, because in many ways, American History is World History.

  18. Valerie

    Just for clarification, John Quincy Adams was NOT president when this occurred. As in the article, he represented the enslaved people, working for their freedom when he argued their case before the Supreme Court

    Martin Van Buren was President at that time.

    However this was an important, although overlooked chapter in American history.

    • Bret, for further clarification, John Quincy Adams had already served as President when he defended the captured Africans.

  19. Dear LaJaw,
    You are certainly correct that the Civil War had to do with economics. However, what the wonderful American history books written by lovely white folk who did not want to hurt feelings on either side decided to not directly point out and teachers decided not to challenge their students such as yourself to use your critical thinking skills to understand what was the driving force of the economy darling. Let’s see in 1808 the economic bread winners of America was cotton and sugar mainly. Ok, so now I want you to use those critical thinking skills that I am sure as an adult you have attained. Who was picking the cotton? Who was planting the cotton? Who was packing the cotton? Who was cutting the sugar cane? Who was working in the sugar mills? Who was planting the sugar cane? Who was planting the rice beds? Who was reaping the rice? Let me clue you in…they had dark skin, they were allowed to have one free day a week if they were lucky, they did not get paid, they were beaten by the over seer if they moved too slow. Oh, in case those clues didn’t ring a bell they were my great great great African grandparents who just happened to be slaves to my great great great white grandpa! Oh and you are on Ancestry my love, I wish I could show you all of my white cousins who probably didn’t have a clue that there are Negroes related to them because that was a family secret. So, it is no different now when white folk look at us and they see a dirty family secret that can’t ever come out. But guess what history books may lie but DNA doesn’t and I am going to shine a nice bright light on my white ancestry. I hope that you and I are related so that I can share my grandparents stories and great great grand parents pictures standing outside of their shacks in good old Raceland, LA and Amite (now known as Magnolia) MS. One last lesson for you as for as current day economics. You quoted 41.6 % of African Americans are receiving some type of government assistance which also includes medicare/ss which has been paid for by our own taxes. What you don’t say is that African Americans only make up 14.6% of the U.S.A (approx 47million of us) so that means approx 5.6% of African Americans are receiving benefits from some type of government program not excluding Medicare/SS. The U.S is comprised of 60% white non hispanic Americans based so without even going into amy further math I hope you can see who tops the government assistance programs. Stop skewing data to make factual information erroneous. Again, I hope that you have done a DNA sample and that I am related to you so that yoir history can smack you into reality.

    • “…wonderful” American history books. “…lovely white…” When you make statements such as these you are being sarcastic, pushing buttons and basing statements on emotion not on factual, documented data. Thus, the opportunity for a truthful, intellectual discussion disappears. If we as “Americans” truly want to explore and understand our history then we need to focus on the facts and data. A factual statement is not pointing fingers, nor associating blame. Stay focused! We will all learn much more.

    • Well written Charette. I never think “Why, can’t they control their people?” after another white man opens fire at a public school, mall, concert, church, etc. I won’t even get into the 90% of pedophiles in prison. Ixsnay on the onesstay in a glass house.

    • I’m not following your math. How do you get from 41.6% of African Americans receiving government assistance to only 5.6% of African Americans? Assuming the former figure is correct, then it remains correct no matter what proportion of the U. S. population is African American.

    • Your contribution is intelligent, accurate, and incisive. It is disappointing, however, that you chose to detract from a worthwhile message by using the perjoritive and extremely inaccurate phrase,“white folk” to refer to a group of people whom you assume had lighter complexions.

      You would rightfully take offense if someone referred to a group of people of your own race as “black folk.” You refer to yourself as African American. These “white folk” would likely prefer, as you obviously do, not to be described or grouped according to a physical attribute like the color of their skin. Perhaps they should also be grouped according to their ethnicity, but that can be tricky with “white folk” or yellow, or brown or pink folk, for that matter. Perhaps these “white folk” should be referred to as European or Anglo Americans, or even as “manilla folk,” but those, too, are inexact and potentially offensive descriptors.

      The only plausible answer, then, is to refer to people according to their actual role they took in a given scenario, like “slave hunters,” “plantation owners,” etc., without reference to the color of their skin or the location from which you think their ancestors may have immigrated.

    • The movie is incredible. I am sure the book is much better. It is great to see it even being recognized. YES, it is painful to read the comments on here. I would surely think the 21st Century (i.e., DNA) would have changed the mindset, obviously not so much. I guess it will be left to the next generation as baby boomers disappear from the scrolls of life. I am born and raised in DEEP southeast Louisiana and as noted before, our DNA is shedding light in the darkest corners of history. (I know Raceland, La. very well.) Some of our new found cousins are receiving us with OPEN arms, others wont even respond to multiple olive branches. I loved the statement concerning, “without demand, there is no supply” and yes the demand was incredibly high for slave labor for 400 years!

    • The only thing I can really take from what you say is that some people go to a lot of trouble to find some reason to hate. My great great, great and grandfathers were slaves to the mine owners of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. I feel that my whole life would have been different and naturally, better if those poor people would have been given a better life, thereby, somehow, ensuring me a better life but, alas, here I am, a hundred years later, where I am. I have finally realized that I’m really not so bad off and am trying to forget the dishonest mine owners and to make the best I can of living in the greatest land in the world. We all must live here for a while and then it is all over. Don’t spend a lot of time worrying and looking for reasons to hate and just try to realize that the Civil War is over. What happened was awful and must be remembered in order that we not let it happen again, not to be used as a reason to hate. The hate will eat you up.

  20. Thank you for sharing this and making the Black history available for free. I will be very interested in seeing more. Maybe I am confusing this with another ship where the slaves were made to walk the plank and jump in the sea.. None could swim. But the z captain was able to claim compensation for loss of cargo!!

  21. Watch the movie and google while watching. This amazing act of bravery by all involved was found by Debbie Allen. She worked hard to bring about the movie. It is amazing. Former President Adams defended the African men.

  22. one of the saddest part of history is that the truth leaves us few true heroes. Once the for slaves finally returned to Africa, the slave, Sengbe Pieh (also known as Joseph Cinque), who freed himself and loosed others, was a tribal leader and after returning to Africa became a slave trader himself.

    • Thank you for mentioning this. I’ve heard the same myself, but did not want to post that comment because I’ve never seen any satisfactory documentation. Perhaps someone else can provide some? Fold3 doesn’t offer much in the way of digital records from Africa.

  23. This was horrible and we all agree that it was horrible. However, we must get over looking at history through a modern day lens. The positive thing is that those who survived were returned to their homes and families. This was a very big thing for those days especially given that they were Africans.
    As to the fact that many did not survive, we should not be surprised. Places of imprisonment were filthy and sea travel not much better. Access to things that we consider basic by today’s standards, were largely nonexistent. Medical care was primitive, no fresh food or water after a few days, and only salt water for any form of cleanliness.
    Life was hard all around.

  24. It was a white lawyer who successfully argued for their freedom.

    You’re welcome!

  25. Good on Mr Adams and the Supreme Court of Connecticut. Sadly, such honest men are rare in places of power and justice.

    • MrsSchuby – You are so right – look at the immature, idiots we have currently in our government.
      AND WE VOTED THEM IN.

  26. America’s involvement in this story is a paradox of some good and some bad. Slavery goes back to the early days of the Bible. But when it came to America, the people free to come to America could never have done all the work that was accomplished without help – in the form of slavery and indentured servants. BOTH North and South used slavery and indentured servants, certainly NOT to the same degree, but still…….

    In the late 1600’s, British prisons were full after putting down revolts in Scotland and Ireland. These “undesirables” were originally sent to South Carolina and Georgia – to work on the farms that raised rice crops. But with growing pains, this source of slave labor wasn’t enough. The British then started the slave trade from Africa – kidnapping and selling these people from mostly Western Africa. Needing more and more help, and under British law it was legal to own slaves as one’s property, so more and more Americans bought and kept slaves. Once America’s independence was secured by war, the idea was slavery became a state issue, which eventually led to the American Civil War.

    If anything good came from slavery it was the good work that was done by the slaves, albeit under extremely cruel conditions. Expansion of our country would have been hundreds of year later if it weren’t for the work done by slaves. Our own country’s capital, Washington, D.C. was largely built with slave labor.

    I never lived with my birth family after the age of six. I was never allowed to get to know ANY of my relatives. I retired in 2004 and I didn’t start my genealogy studies until 2010. It was then that I finally began to learn about my family, and its past.

    My family of long ago held slaves. I don’t condone this but it was in my past, and there is nothing I can do to change that.

    I did find where a copy of one of my ancestor’s family Bible had been donated to a museum. Its pages listed family member’s births, marriages, and deaths – but they also included a list of slaves held by this ancestor of mine, back in the 1780’s – 1860’s. It’s seems such a small thing to try and make up for what was done to these people, but I was going to send this list of this family’s slaves to the company I used for genealogy recordkeeping, in hopes of helping someone of the Black community who might be looking for their relatives. These slaves helped this particular family move from Brunswick Co.,VA (1801) to Green and Jones Co.’s, GA (1817) and to Dallas and Macon Co.’s, AL. (1850)

    But alas, I could never accomplish this last task, as the company dropped me without warning. One of their third-party associates won’t accept my laptop’s old technology anymore. My laptop won’t run Windows10 and I don’t have enough RAM left to download a different browser. I still use IE.

    I still had 1/2 of my current subscription left to this company’s World-Wide genealogy records, and another 1/2 subscription left to a third-party’s military records, and finally another 1/2 subscription left to another third-party’s newspaper records.

    I was refused when I asked for a refund. Just a snide comment about not being able to afford a new laptop. So much for living on a fixed income.

    So if anyone wants a copy of this list of slaves – and can still accept files from olden days, please feel free to write.

    Peace to all…….

    • I would love to see what you have as far as your records of the slaves. I have also found where (sadly) some of my ancestors owned slaves but in the census reports it shows that they owned houses and land just as my ancestors did. I also know there are many of my ancestors that came from Ireland as slaves. It would be wonderful to dig up more information on either .

  27. Great idea, R. J. Harrison, to share this info. So many people whose ancestors were slaves never can find the details of their past. Is it possible for you to print it out, from your old computer? Then you could either scan it in to a new one or just take the hard copies to your local genealogical society, and they could advise you how to best share this valuable information.

  28. The Uniited Church of Christ website has more information, links to documents, etc. The Congregationalists played a huge part in the legal proceedings.
    A search brings up much more http://www.ucc.org/about-us_hidden-histories_blacks-and-the-american

  29. Very interesting and bias feedback to this Armistead movie, which I haven’t seen, but a few questions? If some black Americans have white ancestors then why so much hate? There were slave owners who actually cared for and loved their slaves and didn’t miss treat them. Some actually inherited the plantations, or bought their own feeedom by working. I too have been doing my own ancestory, which includes a (white) indentured servant coming over from England, earning his freedom and eventually marrying the owner’s daughter! He ended up an heir. Another of my ancestors were attacked and all killed except one, by a Native American Indian massacre. Doesn’t mean I should hate them now, over 200 years later, in fact I’m married to a 1/16th Cherokee. We all have a history and when it was being written (in living it) our ancestors didn’t see forward to all the racial hatred and division it would cause.
    Back to the the Armistead movie, why are the Africans labeled as “slaves” sound like they were just kidnaped and held hostage? Nowhere do I read that they were ever actually used as slaves. And if so, the Africans aren’t the longest race of being slaves. The Hebrews hold that record of over 400 years. They cried out to God and He delivered them, of course they still rebelled again. African American history also shows a deep religious aspect which came from their slave owners, so the God they cried out to also delivered them. Hum? Maybe we shouldn’t kick God out of this country, schools and government. Maybe we should start “crying out” to Him for deliverance from this crazy anti-God world we live in? Some of us will be DELIVERED someday, will it be you?

    Thank you for reading this, don’t want to get in a big debate, just wanted to speak my mind.

  30. I have already scanned nine pages of names (a few small tears on the pages as the Bible is over 230 yrs. old.) Also a 10th page from the museum verifying the authenticity. I can also provide information on my ancestor and his family and their movements. These are all .jpeg images. I usually send four images in an email, so I don’t cause problems clogging us the email servers – but these images move as attachments to emails easy enough. Thanks and peace to all…….

  31. What about all the northern soldiers who gave their lives in the Civil War. Black people want reparation so the soldiers should be given it too.

  32. Soldiers, were given reparation in the form of land grants, for the Revolution and the Civil wars. I’m not able to document specific plots, but it wouldn’t be surprising if “Indian Territory” was within those parameters. So the government rewarded service in those wars with the lands settled by the Native Americans; forcing those tribes to fight or flight. Sort of a vicious circle. No wonder our country is so much of a military industrial dependent society. I long for the day that families are so blended it will no longer matter what race one is. Then we will see what the true distinction between people is:
    The Have and The Have Nots. When it becomes too extreme, scapegoats are invented, Negros, Mexicans, etc. and even Oklahoma dust bowl immigrants, Okies.
    .

  33. Hello everyone first I would like to say thank you for this interesting piece of knowledge and now here’s something that I bet a lot of people better on here don’t even realize today that this is still going on right now as we speak and instead of still arguing over something that is already over with and not saying it’s any less unfortunate or terrible but it is over and done with and we should start paying attention to the racism that is going on in this world right now there are still slaves being bought and sold illegally and this is scientific factthere are more slaves now in this world than there ever was in the history of man considering yes there are more people than there ever was but there are more slaves now than there ever were people then! And regardless on how more populated our world has become the rise of slave numbers should not be rising they should be diminishing if not be eradicated by now that is the unfortunate sad story that should be focused on!!!!!!!! So in honor of Black history month I wanted to let this out and share a piece of knowledge with everyone that I recently found out myself that yes there are more slaves now than there ever was in history and that is a fact research it yourself if you don’t want to take my word. And that is a true sadness let’s make this world a better place one person at a time can do it so don’t think just by you doing something different isn’t going to help because it will.

  34. FYI I just posted that long comment above and I did it in honor of black history month and I just wanted to State the fact that I am a Caucasian white woman I am not black so I don’t want anybody to think that I’m doing it because I want to promote my own race I’m doing it to show that I care about all races and everyone else should too because it doesn’t matter what color your skin is we all walk the same walk talk the same talk live eat sleep and die and we are all human together we can stop racism and hatred

    • As a “minority” I hate the term, hate that someone feels that I need to be labeled and hate that someone thinks I need special help to get where I have gotten by myself.

      To clarify something like skin color when commenting, it in itself divisive. Sorry I know you mean well, but hey…. it’s arrogant and condescending to label another person as “special” or in need of special help. It’s makes them dependent and a victim.

  35. This information is great! I have read the book and seen a film about Cinque. It was a long hard fight. Some of the Africans died from conditions at sea, not having enough food or sanitary conditions. Some died in custody from other forms of mistreatment. I was actually shocked and elated that Cinque won his freedom. It was sad though that he also lost so much because of his abduction.

  36. it simply amazes me once I think of what my ancestors had to go through, the strength of the black man stands alone. imagine the mental aspect of it all no man deserve to be treated this way! however the heart of these Superior kings of Africa persevered, as we stand black and proud we will continue to carry this torch of strength.

  37. Might I remind those who are moaning about how long it took to sort out this bad situation that this all happened long before the day of instant communication. Documents pertaining to legal matters from the involved countries may have taken time to receive as well as to study. Diplomacy was most likely a factor, too. Unearthing the fact that these 53 individuals were illegally kidnapped might have taken time, too. You have no knowledge, at least in this article, of the ages or overall health (mental and physical) of the people who died before making it back home. I think we need to accept the good achieved as a win, mourn that our world had this dark time and move on.

  38. T.R. Powell 13/Feb/2019

    The typo was the only thing you could’ve contribute?

  39. Lajaw Wilson, I have read history books — more specifically, historical documents in the form of letters and diaries of people involved in the leadership of the confederacy. They make no bones about it; their goal was to defend the institution of slavery.

    • Lajaw
      It would be nice if you look over the actual history rather than promote your personal agenda.

      It seems very obvious to me you are minimizing the terrible impact slave trade had on those who were slaves as well as the negative attitude of slave owners towards their ‘property’ well after 1808.

      Coming from ancestors on both sides of the Civil War I am particularly bothered by revisionist history. We already have enough of this at present time. Facts are facts and if you have some other view it’s only fair to cite your sources rather than perpetuate more false narratives.