- Alonford James Robinson
Although England and Spain had signed a treaty in 1817 prohibiting the transatlantic slave trade, a group of African Mende were captured in an area near Sierra Leone in April 1839 and forced onto a Portuguese slave ship bound for Havana, Cuba. To avoid prosecution for breaking international law, the captives were smuggled onto the island at night when the ship reached Cuba. While in Havana, fifty-three Africans (forty-nine adult males, three girls, and one boy) were sold to two Spaniards, José Ruiz and Pedro Montes, who intended to use them as slaves on Cuban plantations. On June 28 1839, the Africans were loaded aboard the Spanish schooner La Amistad as it set sail along the Cuban coast for Puerto Príncipe. On La Amistad's fourth day at sea, a few of the captives were allowed to come on deck for exercise. One of them, Joseph Cinque found a ...
A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.