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Lot 0301
Incredible Historic Document: THE "NEW-YORK OBSERVER" REPORTS ON THE "AMISTAD" SLAVE REVOLT An amazing historic newspaper account of the La Amistad Event in the Sep. 14, 1839 edition of the "New-York Observer", 4pp. folio, containing a number of items of national and international news. Certainly the most important of these is an article on page two, describing the case of the Spanish slave ship "La Amistad" whose crew was overpowered by Mende captives under the leadership of Joseph Cinque and forced to sail towards Africa, only to be captured by an American revenue cutter off New York. Spain demanded the return of the captives, whom they considered property, a claim which was challenged by the United States, which had abolished the slave trade. The case eventually was heard before the Supreme Court, which granted the Mende their freedom. This story, written three weeks after the arrest of the vessel and its crewmen, reads in part: "The case of the African slaves, captured in the Amistad and carried into New Haven, excites deep interest in the whole community. It is earnestly hoped that the way may be opened for their deliverance, and speedy return to the land from which they have been so cruelly torn ... It is understood, however, that the Spanish minister has formally demanded of our government, the surrender of the Amistad and the alleged slaves to the Spanish authorities; and the question is, Shall they be given up? All the feelings of the heart say, No..." The bulk of the article is taken up by a long and extremely detailed letter from LEWIS TAPPAN (1788-1873), the New York abolitionist, who ensured that the Mende had high-quality legal representation, undertook extensive fundraising campaigns on their behalf, and later arranged for their return voyage to Africa. Tappan describes visiting the New Haven prison where the Mende were held and meeting with Cinque (here called Jingua), whom he is able to tentatively converse with through an interpreter. In part: "...Joseph Cinquez, as the Spaniards have named him, but who pronounces his name in his own language, Jingua, says he is a native of the Mandingo country. His father is neither a king nor a chief, but one of the principal men ... By them he was sent on board a ship, where he met, for the first time, the persons who are now with him in prison. From Jingua and his comrades we gathered the following statements, nearly in their very words, as translated by the interpreter: -They demanded of the slavers where they were going to take them, but get no satisfactory answer. In one and a half moons, they said, we arrived at Havana. Here they were put ashore, and confined one moon in a house very close. Then they were put on board the schooner which brought them to this country, and continued on board of her for about one moon or a month. After being on board the schooner some time, they agreed to take the schooner and go back to their own country. Previous to this the Captain was very cruel and beat them severely. They would not take it, to use their own expression, and therefore turned to and fought for it. After this they did not know which way to go. But at length they told the Spaniards to take them to Sierra Leone. ''They made fools of us,'' said Jingua, ''and did not go to Sierra Leone.'' In the day time, they said they could tell very well which way to go by the sun, but at night the Spaniards deceived them, and put the vessel the other way. After this, they said, we got here, and did not know where we were..." Tappan continues the account in a second letter, sent the next day, in part: "... They stated that they were brought down the country to the sea coast, and were chained when put on board the slaver, which was a brig. It was crowded with slaves, there being 200 men, 300 women, and ''plenty of children''. Jingua here got down on the floor to show us how they were stowed on board, then moved about on his knees , and as he rose put his hand on the top of his head, to indicate how low the deck was. They said their sufferings were great on the passage, and several of their number had died ... When they were put on board the Amistad it was in the evening, and they sailed about midnight. Their irons were taken off. Some slept below, and the rest on the deck. Two of the Spaniards on board were armed with muskets. The captain of the schooner was very cruel; he beat them on the head very hard with any thing he could catch, and kept them almost starved ..." The paper bears folds, with minor soiling and foxing throughout, and with slight chipping at the edges, but is otherwise in very good condition.


The paper bears folds, with minor soiling and foxing throughout, and with slight chipping at the edges, but is otherwise in very good condition.


15.25 x 20.5 in

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New York Observer Report - Amistad Slave Revolt 1839

Estimate $300 - $375Jul 21, 2018
112 Public Square
Gallatin, TN 37066
United States
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