amistad: replica schooner

In 1839, Mende captives from Sierra Leone took control of the ship transporting them to slavery, the Amistad. Unable to navigate back to Africa, the ship was captured and towed into the port of New London in Connecticut. The Mende were faced with slavery or execution, and their cause was taken up by many residents throughout Connecticut. U.S. Circuit and District courts ruled in favor of the Mende. This case was then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and in 1841 this court agreed with the lower court decisions and the Mende captives were ordered freed. The vessel on display is a reproduction of that ship. It was built at the Mystic Seaport Museum Shipyard and launched in 2000.

Amistad is not currently at the Museum, but will return for short visits on June 5–13 and July 19–31.

Discovering Amistad

The Amistad is an iconic representation of the fight for justice and freedom in the United States and beyond. Discovering Amistad is a non-profit educational organization that provides year-round programming, inviting children and adults to discover the story of the Amistad and its impact on Connecticut and the nation through the present day. The 128-foot replica of the schooner and the lessons of the Uprising aboard it in 1839 provide the foundation to explore the concepts of freedom, power, justice and equality.

Since its establishment in 2015, Discovering Amistad has welcomed thousands of visitors aboard the ship to provide insights into Connecticut and the nation’s history through the lens of a floating classroom.

In addition to a classroom curriculum, in recent months, the organization has expanded its programming to offer online learning, dockside education and leadership training, and magnified its partnerships to address injustice, promote diversity and facilitate conversations about the role we all must play in dismantling systemic racism.

As the nation continues to wrestle with the painful realities of racism and oppression in our society, the lessons of the Amistad, and the fulfillment of Discovering Amistad’s mission have never been more relevant.