Yale Bulletin and Calendar

May 26, 2000Volume 28, Number 33

This replica of the original "Amistad" will set sail this summer to teach about the historic incident involving enslaved Africans.

Yale helps the new 'Amistad' set
sail on its educational mission

To ensure a successful maiden voyage this summer for the freedom schooner Amistad, the University and its Divinity School recently donated $25,000 toward operation of the newly built replica of the original ship.

The Amistad America project seeks to further the cause of human rights by serving as a floating classroom teaching the lessons of the Amistad incident of 1839.

The Amistad story, made into a 1997 movie by director Steven Spielberg, is the tale of 53 people from the Mende tribe of Sierra Leone, who were seized in Africa as slaves and were being taken from Havana to Puerto Principe, Cuba, aboard the ship "La Amistad" (which in Spanish means "friendship"). During the night, the slaves, led by Singbe Pieh (also known as Joseph Cinque), mutinied, killing the captain and the cook, but permitting others to escape in a small boat.

The Mende ordered the remaining Cubans to pilot the ship to Africa, but the Cubans deceived them by changing course and direction at night from east to northwest. After 63 days, the Africans landed on the shore of Long Island to get water and supplies, and they were arrested by U.S. authorities. They were held captive in the New Haven jail while their case was brought to trial. Former President John Quincy Adams, who was a U.S. congressman at the time, successfully defended and helped free the slaves. All 35 survivors returned to Africa.

Yale played a significant role in the outcome of the Amistad incident. Joshua Leavitt, a Divinity School graduate and law student, was an abolitionist and an original member of the Amistad Committee that raised money for the legal defense of the captives. He was also editor of the Emancipator, a publication of that era.

Josiah Willard Gibbs, a professor of sacred literature at the Divinity School, talked with Cinque and learned some of the Mende language. He found two interpreters for the Mende and also gave testimony on behalf of the defense. Lewis Tappan, a leading abolitionist, hired Yale divinity students to provide religious instruction for the captives.

A statue commemorating the incident stands in the northern courtyard of New Haven's city hall.


Yale celebrates 299th Commencement

Fellowship winners to pursue summer study across the globe

Yale helps the new 'Amistad' set sail on its educational mission

Festival Time: Celebrations of art, music and culture at Yale, city sites

Environmental leaders to join school's faculty

Conservation leaders named McCluskey Fellows

Alumni return to campus to celebrate reunions

Researcher links unexplained car accidents and heart irregularities

Center's family celebration will mark Cancer Survivors Day

Family Festival to celebrate Yale Art Gallery exhibitions

Students will teach in China, Hong Kong

Movie theaters 'pitch in' to raise funds for Yale pediatric programs

Edmund Gordon is honored for his achievements

'Feminist humor maven' will speak at campaign school

Symposium will pay tribute to Dr. Marvin Sears

Fair will highlight continuing education

In the News

Bulletin Home|Visiting on Campus| Calendar of Events|Bulletin Board

Classified Ads|Search Archives|Production Schedule|Bulletin Staff

Public Affairs Home|News Releases| E-Mail Us|Yale Home Page