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The Amistad Story: Commemorating a Local Narrative

Kristin Wetmore

Contents of Curriculum Unit 08.03.09:

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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed people can change the world. Indeed,
it’s the only thing that ever has.”
-- Margaret Mead
Why should my students study the Amistad case? The answer is quite simple: it is a fascinating narrative for several reasons. In fact, it was really the first civil rights case in this country. It happened before the Civil War, at a time when black people had few rights, if any at all. It is a David and Goliath story, good vs. evil, right vs. wrong. The case illustrates how the people of New Haven came together for a just cause. It caught popular attention right from the start as is seen in the images published by John Warner Barber in 1840. “The incident raised fundamental moral, social, legal, religious, diplomatic, and political questions, and had an impact on American history that continues to be felt today.” 1

The case still has relevance today. Connecticut State Senator Toni N. Harp, D-10 was quoted as saying, “Americans should use the Amistad spirit to speak out against every attempt to curb freedom in the 21st century.” 2 According to “The Amistad Memorial brochure published by The Amistad Committee, Inc., “the triumph of the Amistad teaches us one of the most important lessons of our time: together we can overcome all odds and strengthen our mutual needs for freedom and quality of life.”

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The story began in Sierra Leone in 1839. Fifty three members of the Mende tribe were kidnapped and taken to the island of Lomboko. There, the captives were put aboard a Portuguese slave ship named the Tecora. On board, were approximately 500 Africans that would be taken to Havana, Cuba to be sold. 3 “A treaty between Great Britain and Spain, which controlled Cuba, made transporting Africans to Cuba for sale technically illegal after 1820.” 4 This did not stop the African’s from being sold with false documentation.

Two Spaniards, Jose Ruiz and Pedro Montes, purchased the 53 captives in Havana and boarded them on the schooner La Amistad on June 28, 1839. The captives were to be transported to the other end of Cuba, a voyage that should have taken three days. Cinque (also known at Singbe) was the unofficial leader of the group. He was able to use a loose nail to break free of the shackles and then freed the others. Next, there came a mutiny. The Africans killed the captain and most of the crew. Ruiz and Montes were kept alive so that they could sail the boat back to Africa. “Cinque had observed that the Tecora had sailed toward the setting sun as it took them away from Africa. To return to Africa, he reasoned, the Amistad should head toward the rising sun.” 5 Ruiz and Montes sailed east during the day, but at night turned the boat west, back towards the United States. For weeks, the schooner zigzagged up the coast towards New England. On August 26 the USS Washington of the U.S. Navy intercepted the schooner about a mile off the coast of Long Island. Ruiz and Montes were only able to give their side of the story and the Africans as well as the vessel were taken to New London. The 53 Africans were transported to the Jail in New Haven. 6

The supposition is that the navy took the schooner and the captives to Connecticut rather than New York for one simple reason. “Slavery was legal in Connecticut and not in New York, which meant the salvage rights to slave property, would not be considered in New York courts. 7

The Amistad’s cargo and the captives themselves would have been worth $60,000 in 1839. The Captain and crew of the USS Washington thus would have had a right to the salvage under Connecticut law, but not under New York law. 8

There were several issues that needed to be settled by the courts. “The Africans had to be defended (1) against claims by the U.S. Navy, who seized the boat and wanted claims against the property (2) the Spanish owners who wanted the slaves and property back, and (3) against murder and mutiny charges.” 9 Also at question was the Anglo-Saxon Treaty of 1817, which outlawed slave trade in Spain and its colonies, including Cuba. 10

“The essential issue throughout the affair was a conflict between human rights and property rights -- whether natural law as the abolitionists defined it was to take precedence over what they regarded as positive, man-made law.” 11 This was because the Circuit court judge, Smith Thompson, “preferred to evade the larger debate over abolition and rested his decision on jurisdictional grounds.” 12

Yale Professor Josiah Gibbs was part of the group of New Haven abolitionists dedicated to helping the Africans legally and financially. Professor Gibbs found two Mende speakers on the docks in New York. James Covey, a freed slave from Sierra Leone, and Charles Pratt, a native of Mende who had also been enslaved by a Spanish slave trader. 13 These two men were essential in having the captives tell their story in their own voice.

The Africans went through three rounds of court proceedings. The first was in the Circuit Court in Hartford in September 1839. During this time, the Africans were held in the Hartford jail. They were transported to Hartford, on barges by way of the Farmington Canal. The Farmington canal line ran from New Haven, through Farmington, to Northampton, Massachusetts. The second was in the District Court in New Haven in January 1840. The appeal reached the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C. in February of 1841. Finally, on March 9, 1840 the U.S. Supreme Court issued the verdict that the Africans were free men.

The story does not end there. The thirty-six remaining Africans were again transported along the canal line to Farmington to live while abolitionists raised money for their return to Sierra Leone. Farmington’s many abolitionist residents took an interest in the case during their trials in New Haven and Hartford. Finally, in November of 1841, The Gentleman sailed from New York to return the Africans to Sierra Leone.

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There has been an ebb and flow of popular interest in the Amistad case. The public’s interest has been motivated by various reasons. At the time of the first trial, when the Africans were being held in the New Haven jail, they were treated as a tourist attraction. “The jailer charged ‘one New York shilling’ (about 12 cents) for a look at the captives. The Africans also attracted scientific interest. A phrenologist examined the captives and took ‘life masks’ which were later put on public display.” 14 Phrenology is the antiquated “study of the conformation of the skull based on the belief that it is indicative of mental faculties and character”. 15

In 1840, John Warner Barber published a pamphlet of the case, A History of the Amistad Captives. Included in this were several engravings. One engraving, “Death of Captain Ferrer, The Capture of the Amistad” shows the violent death of the Captain at the hands of the Africans. Wax figures of the Africans went on tour. The figures spent several weeks in Peale’s Museum in New York City. 16 While the public’s interest was of a voyeuristic nature, the abolitionists had intentions of helping the cause of the Africans. Their efforts included an event at the Broadway Tabernacle in New York City that displayed the African’s accomplishments. 17

Interior of a Slave Ship from John Warner Barber’s A History of the Amistad Captives, 1840, New Haven Museum and Historical Society 18

Death of Captain Ferrer, The Capture of the Amistad from John Warner Barber’s A History of the Amistad Captives, 1840, New Haven Museum and Historical Society 19

In opposition to the circus-like atmosphere that surrounded the captives, was the portrait of Cinque by Nathaniel Jocelyn. The portrait, painted in 1840, was the first depiction of an African as more than just a slave. Cinque is portrayed in a classical white toga, holding a staff. This pose was usually reserved for “heroic white figures.” 20 Because of the content of the painting, the Artist Fund Society of Philadelphia refused to exhibit the portrait in its annual exhibition. They claimed that ‘to display it might prove injurious both to the proprietors and the institution.’ Outraged, Jocelyn resigned his membership in the Society.” 21

Cinque by Nathaniel Jocelyn, circa 1840

New Haven Museum and Historical Society22

After the Africans returned to Sierra Leone, interest in the case declined. It was not until the twentieth century that we see another depiction of the Amistad case in New Haven. New Haven became home to several murals funded by the Federal Arts Project during the 1930s. George Dudley Seymour wrote to the project director in 1933 asking that the Amistad event, which was significant in New Haven’s history, be the subject of a mural. Instead of referencing the historical debate between slavery and abolitionism, or the legal debate that sent the case to the Supreme Court, Theodore Sizer chose to depict the African captives on the New Haven Green performing for the crowds. 23

Nineteen eighty-nine was the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Amistad incident. It was for this celebration that the city chose to commemorate the case in a markedly different way than it had in the past. The New Haven Museum and Historical Society prepared an exhibition of images and objects from its collection as well as from the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. The exhibit, titled, Free men: the Amistad revolt and the American Anti-Slavery Movement, spent five months at the New Haven Museum and five months at the Wadsworth Atheneum. At the closing of the exhibition, the objects and images that belonged to the New Haven Museum became part of their permanent exhibit, Cinque Lives Here.

In 1989, The Amistad Committee, Inc. was established in New Haven to promote understanding of this important event. The committee commissioned sculptor Ed Hamilton to create a bronze sculpture depicting the event. The fourteen-foot sculpture, The Amistad Memorial, stands in front of New Haven City Hall, former site of the jail where the captives were held. The memorial has three sides, each depicting Cinque in a different pose, one in traditional African clothes, one in western clothes in the courtroom, and one after he won his freedom. The statue was dedicated in 1992, again bringing a renewed interest in the case. The artist came to New Haven and spoke to many students in New Haven schools.

Amistad Memorial, in front of New Haven City Hall

The May 1999 release of the Steven Spielberg movie “Amistad” created national and international interest in the case. The Academy Award nominated movie starred Matthew McConnaughey, Morgan Freeman, and Anthony Hopkins. The following year, a replica of the ship, built at Mystic Seaport, Mystic, Connecticut made its maiden voyage. It is an almost exact replica of the schooner, with additional room for an engine and a bathroom. The boat has made its home in New Haven harbor as well as making voyages to Sierra Leone. Visitors can tour the boat or take part in a sail.

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The unit will begin with several objectives: To use historical documents as educational tools for the experiencing of local histories, to use primary sources -- objects - as a storytelling tool, to have students become familiar with the visual images in their community, to make connections between artwork and local history, to work collaboratively to make a group artwork. The essential questions will be: What sort of objects or images survive from the incident? Why were some items preserved and others not preserved? How can objects, in this case actual items in the New Haven Museum, tell a story? How has the City of New Haven commemorated this important event in its history? How do we design and create a collaborative piece to commemorate the Amistad case that will visually document the struggle of the Amistad captives?

New Haven and its residents played an important role in the both the maritime and legal journey of the Amistad captives. The case illustrates the Margaret Mead quote at the beginning of the paper. A small group of committed people from New Haven helped bring about change that resonated for years. Because Co-op is located near the historic New Haven Green, we are within walking distance of many of the sites of importance in the Amistad case. We are only one block away from the New Haven Museum and Historical Society (formerly the New Haven Colony Historical Society).

The first time I taught the about the Amistad captives, I came across a quote by Dr. John Henrik Clarke in The Middle Passage by Tom Feelings. He wrote, “Of the countless number of Africans ripped from the villages of Africa -- from the Senegal River to northern Angola -- during the nearly four centuries of the slave trade, approximately one third of them died on the torturous march to the ships and one third of them died in the holding stations on both sides of the Atlantic or on the ships. If the Atlantic were to dry up, it would reveal a scattered pathway of human bones, African bones marking the various routes of the Middle Passage.” I have never forgotten this image. This is the reason I think it is so important to teach all students of the struggle to overcome such atrocities.

I am a visual arts teacher at Cooperative Arts Magnet High School (Co-op), an inter-district magnet high school. Approximately 65% of the students are from the city of New Haven and 35% come from surrounding towns. The students apply for a lottery to come to Co-op and choose an area of the arts to apply to. This art form will be their area of intensive study for four years. The students may choose from music, choral or instrumental, visual art, theater, creative writing, or dance. The Visual Art students take a double period of art, approximately 90 minutes, every day.

Students come from districts other than New Haven to attend Co-op rather than their local public high schools, primarily because they are interested in studying the arts in a smaller setting. Co-op has 418 students enrolled in grades 9-12. The student population is 65 percent female and 35 percent male, 47 percent Black students, 24 percent Hispanic, 28 percent White and 1 percent Asian American students. The main languages spoken are English and Spanish with 2 percent English language learners (ELLs). The school has 10 percent students with special education needs. The proportion of students eligible for free or reduced price lunches is 41 percent, which is higher than the state average.

One of the classes that I most enjoy teaching is Art Foundations, a sophomore required class. This course focuses on an overview of the history of art from a global perspective. The course concentrates on history, criticism, and aesthetics, with studio projects that are designed to clarify course concepts and stimulate student interest. Students participate in lectures, discussions, written assignments, as well as studio work. The course is a double period, yearlong course taught on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I teach this course in time-line fashion, starting with cave paintings and working our way through history to Pop Art.

I always like to study the Amistad case at the appropriate place in time (before Impressionism) because it is an important part of local history. Using primary sources in the classroom brings local history to life. Why should we study the representations of the Amistad case? Period images and surviving objects give us clues into the importance of the case, subsequent representations, and how it has been commemorated. It offers examples of how to visually document a narrative.

The ways in which the Amistad case has captured popular attention, then subsided, and then reemerged is important for students to understand. Students need to see history is oftentimes the viewpoint of the present looking back at the past. By examining how

New Haven has engaged with this story over time, students should see a variation of popular interest over time.

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1 Diana R. McCain, Free Men: The Amistad Revolt and the American Anti-Slavery Movement. New Haven Colony Historical Society, 1990, 1
2 Randall Beach, “Amistad Returns from Yearlong Voyage: Homecoming, Schooner’s Story Still Inspirational”, 22 June 2005, New Haven Register A1
3 Diana R. McCain, Free Men, 3
4 ibid., 4
5 Diana R. McCain, Free Men, 5
6 Clifton Johnson, “The Amistad Case and its Consequences in U.S. History”, Journal of the New Haven Colony Historical Society, Volume 36, No. 2, Spring 1990. New Haven Colony Historical Society, 5
7 ibid., 5
8 Douglas O. Linder 2000 http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/amistad/AMI_ACT.HTM, 2

9 Constance Baker Motley, “The Amistad Case and its Consequences in U.S. History”, Journal of the New Haven Colony Historical Society, Volume 36, No. 2, Spring 1990. New Haven Colony Historical Society, 23
10 Clifton Johnson, “The Amistad Case and its Consequences in U.S. History”, 5
11 Douglas O. Linder 2000 http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/amistad/AMI_ACT.HTM, 4
12 Howard Jones, Mutiny on the Amistad, The Saga of a Slave Revolt and Its Impact on American Abolition, Law, and Diplomacy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987, 11
13 ibid., 43
14 The Africans in America, http://amistad.mysticseaport.org/discovery/story/africans.america.html, 2
15 http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phrenology
16 op cit., 2
17 ibid., 3
18 Interior of a Slave Ship from John Warner Barber’s A History of the Amistad Captives, 1840, New Haven Museum and Historical Society, reprinted with permission of the New haven Museum and Historical Society
19 Death of Captain Ferrer, The Capture of the Amistad from John Warner Barber’s A History of the Amistad Captives, 1840, New Haven Museum and Historical Society, reprinted with permission of the New haven Museum and Historical Society
20 Caption, Cinque by Nathaniel Jocelyn, circa 1840 New Haven Museum and Historical Society
21 Caption, Cinque by Nathaniel Jocelyn, circa 1840 New Haven Museum and Historical Society
22 Cinque by Nathaniel Jocelyn, circa 1840 New Haven Museum and Historical Society, reprinted with permission of the New haven Museum and Historical Society
23 Caption, Amistad mural, Troup Middle School, New Haven by Frank Rutkowski, c 1936-39 New Haven Museum and Historical Society

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Activity 1

Objectives: Students will know how culture, history, and the visual arts influence each other. Students will recognize that the visual arts tell something about the time in history and culture. Students will understand the Amistad case and the events leading up to the Africans confinement in New Haven.

Discussion about background of the Amistad Case, pictures from The Middle Passage, map- “The Voyage of the Amistad Captives” by John O.C. McCrillis, 1989

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Activity 2

Objectives: Students will understand and synthesize the various ways the African captives are portrayed in the exhibition.

Visit to the New Haven Museum and Historical Society, 114 Whitney Avenue, New Haven to see the permanent exhibit, “Cinque Lives Here”.

Materials required -- journal and pencils.

Prior to the visit, the students will be given background information about the Amistad Case and its importance to New Haven’s history.

At the museum, students will view the exhibit, “Cinque Lives Here”. This room includes artwork and artifacts related to the Amistad case. The exhibit on the second floor,

“The Federal Art Project in New Haven: The Era, Art & Legacy” includes a photograph of the WPA Mural of the Amistad Captives, as well as the sketch for the mural.

The students will view Cinque by Nathaniel Jocelyn c. 1840.

Students will use the three methods of art criticism to write about this painting in their journals: Describe, Analyze and Interpret.

1. Describe: What do you see in this painting? Make a list of all the things you see.
2. Analyze: How is the work organized? Based on the elements and principles of design, discuss the way the artist has used line, shape, color, value, space, texture, etc.
3. Interpret: what is the artist saying to me? What is happening? The student will make inferences about the message in the work, going beyond narration.

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Activity 3

Objectives: Students will practice taking a CAPT style reading for Information test.

All tenth grade students in Connecticut must pass the Connecticut Academic Proficiency Test (CAPT). One portion of this test is Reading for Information. The CAPT Reading for Information test requires students to read three non-fiction articles and answer a combination of 12 multiple-choice and 6 open-ended questions. There are two types of open-ended questions; Developing and Interpretation and Demonstrating a Critical Stance. This activity will allow students to practice taking this type of test.

Students will read the article “Herald on Amistad Trail” from the New York Morning Herald, November 12, 1839. http://amistad.mysticseaport.org/library/news/nymh/1839.11.21.heraldontrial.html

It is an account of the proceedings in court. Students will then use this article for a Reading for Information style test. See Activity Sheet 3

Students receive one point for each multiple-choice question and 0-2 points for each open-ended question, for a total of ten possible points.

Activity Sheet 3

Attached is a sample Reading for Information article, “Herald on Amistad Trail”. Read the article and answer the multiple-choice and open-ended questions that follow on loose leaf paper. For the multiple-choice questions, select the choice that best answers the question or completes the sentence. Respond to the open-ended questions by writing a brief answer on the loose leaf paper. Remember to explain and support your answer using information from the article.

“Herald on Amistad Trail”

Developing an Interpretation

1. According to the article, the court proceedings for the day were:
a. about the location of the schooner
b. about the language of the captives.
c. about the amount of money recovered.
2. The author of this article uses the word “libel” to mean:
a. false accusation
b. claim
c. custody
d. cargo

Demonstrating a Critical Stance

3. Why did the author include the quote from Roger Sherman Baldwin, “If they are not found to be property, they must be immediately discharged, as it is not pretended that they are criminals.”

a. Because the court proceedings were about the murder and mutiny.

b. Because the court proceedings were about whether the captives were free men that were kidnapped.

c. Because the court proceedings were about where the captors were from.

d. Because the court proceedings were about whether the abolitionists should help the captives.

4. Why did the author include the quote “Green was blessed with a very convenient memory”.

a. Because Green testified that Bannah spoke Spanish.

b. Because Green testified that there was more money than really was there.

c. Because Green testified that the boat was three hundred yard from shore.

d. Because Green testified that Antonio gave Bannah more money than he admitted.

Open-ended questions

Developing an Interpretation

5. What does the author mean, “We shall have some rare disclosures from this fellow, if the abolitionists do not get the opportunity to tamper with him.”?

Demonstrating a Critical Stance

6. Why does the author call Green, “unworthy of credit.”

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Activity 4

Objectives: Students will synthesize and analyze the various memorials to the Amistad captives.

Walking Tour of Amistad Sites

These sites are all located on or around the New Haven Green.

·Amistad Memorial at the site of the New Haven Jail. Completed by sculptor Edward Hamilton and dedicated in 1992, “each side depicts a different phase of the Amistad incident.” www.walkingtoursofnewhaven.com
·United Church -- “Several members of the early congregation were abolitionists. One, Roger Sherman Baldwin, was active in the defense of the Amistad Africans”
·Farmington Canal -- the Africans were transported to Farmington on barges by way of the canal line running from New Haven. Kramer, Harold R. Farmington Canal Linear Park Page, http://www.wj1b.com/Pages%cheshire/linear.park.htm
·Site of the New Haven Courthouse
·Memorial to those captives who died in New Haven, Grove Street Cemetery

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Activity 5

Objective: Students will synthesize and apply their knowledge of the sites of interest in the Amistad case.

Materials needed -- Laminated copy of Doolittle Map, dry erase markers.

Students will use the Doolittle Map as a starting point to find the places of interest to this case. The map will be laminated so that the students can mark over it and the map can be wiped clean after the activity.

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Activity 6

CAPT Style Assessment

Movie: Amistad

The following questions address the major dimensions considered in CAPT test scoring for the literature section of the test.


____1. Forming an initial understanding
____2. Developing an interpretation
____3. Making a connection
____4. Demonstrating a critical stance

1. Describe the main character of the movie.

2. Describe the setting

3. What is the Theme (main point or message) of the movie?

4. What symbols are used in this movie?

5. What is the main conflict in this movie?

6. How does the main character change from the beginning of the story to the end? What do you think causes this change?

7. Discuss your connection to the story. What does this story say about people in general? In what ways does it remind you of people you have known or experiences you have had? Use specific examples from the movie to explain your thinking.

8. Imagine yourself as a juror. Who would you believe before the testimony?

9. Chose one of the following quotes to discuss:

10. Discuss the relationship between Roger Sherman Baldwin and Cinque. How did it change throughout the film?

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Activity 7

Objectives: Students will understand how the differences in time and attitude have changed how the Amistad case has been commemorated.

Students should read excerpts from Fred Wilson’s Mining the Museum.

The teacher will lead discussion of the following: How were the Africans portrayed at the time of the trials? (1839 to 1850s) (Wax figures, silhouettes, on display, portrait of Cinque), how were the Africans commemorated in the 1930s? (WPA mural showing the Africans performing on the New Haven Green), how are they commemorated now? (1989 to the present) (Amistad Memorial, Grove Street Cemetery Memorial, Cinque Lives Here, Amistad movie by Steven Spielberg)

Students should reflect on this discussion in their journals.

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Activity 8

Objectives: Students will create a collaborative mural synthesizing and applying knowledge of the Amistad case.

Collaborative mural, using collage, names of the captives, and maps.

Materials for Activity: Rolls of brown craft paper, black construction paper, examples of heddle loom weavings, copies of the silhouettes of captives and their names and descriptions, white drawing paper, tempera paint, scissors, glue, map of Cuba, United States, Africa.

Each student will be given the name of one or two of the captives, a copy of the silhouettes and the written descriptions from the Journal of the New Haven Colony Historical Society. These should be glued into the student’s journal. By reading the description of the Africans, the students should establish empathy for the Africans as individuals. Students should make a larger version of the silhouette on black paper. The African’s name will be written under each silhouette.

Three students should be assigned the maps to recreate, one of Africa, the United States, and Cuba. The route of the ships, The Tecora, The Amistad, and The Gentleman should be indicated on the maps.

Two long sheets of brown craft paper can be used for the background. The silhouettes, names, and maps should be glued onto the background. Students can work together to create a title for the mural.

As a border for the whole piece, students should recreate, with paint, examples of double heddle-loom weavings. These weavings are traditional to the people of Sierra Leone. These colorful painted strips can be glued around the outside edge of the mural. Students can also be assigned to write the caption for the mural.

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Teacher’s Reading List

“The Amistad Memorial”, the Amistad Committee, Inc.

Pamphlet describing the memorial and the artist, Ed Hamilton.

The Africans in America, http://amistad.mysticseaport.org/discovery/story/africans.america.html

Article that tells of the many visual images of the Africans and the public displays in 1839 and 1840.

Bayless, D. Hayne. “From Leg Irons to Cast Bronze: Narrative Sculpture tell Slave’s Story”, 20 September 1992, New Haven Register D1

Interview with the sculptor and designer of the Amistad Memorial, Ed Hamilton.

Beach, Randall. “Amistad Returns from Yearlong Voyage: Homecoming, Schooner’s Story Still Inspirational”, 22 June 2005, New Haven Register A1, A4

Description of the schooners return to New Haven and give excellent rationale for the continued study of the Amistad story.

Cashman, Dennis. “Amistad Revisited”, 17 August 1997, New Haven Register F1

Interview with author David Pesci about his novel Amistad, and information about an exhibit at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, “Amistad: The First Decade and Beyond.”

Harris, Jennifer. Textiles: 5000 years, An International History and Illustrated Survey. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publisher, 1993.

Shows examples of double heddle loom weavings from Sierra Leone.

Jones, Howard. Mutiny on the Amistad, The Saga of a Slave Revolt and Its Impact on American Abolition, Law, and Diplomacy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987

Journal of the New Haven Colony Historical Society, Volume 36, No. 2, Spring 1990. New Haven Colony Historical Society

A concise and comprehensive account of the Amistad case. Includes silhouettes and descriptions of the Africans.

Kramer, Harold R. Farmington Canal Linear Park Page, http://www.wj1b.com/Pages%cheshire/linear.park.htm

Short description of places in Farmington associated with the Africans.

McCain, Diana R. Free Men: The Amistad Revolt and the American Anti-Slavery Movement. New Haven Colony Historical Society, 1990

A short guide to the Amistad case including many visuals.

Stein, Judith E. “Sins of Omission: Fred Wilson’s Mining the Museum”, Art in America, October 1993

A synopsis of article written about Mining the Museum (Fred Wilson’s curated exhibit at the Maryland Historical Society of Boston) for Art in America.

Thompson, Barbara. Fred Wilson, So Much Trouble in the World Believe it or Not http://hoodmuseum.dartmouth.edu/exhibitions/fred/wilson/fredwilsonpressr.html

Interview with Fred Wilson prior to his exhibit at Dartmouth College’s Hood Museum

The U.S. Navy and the Amistad, March 31,1998 http://www.history.navy.lil/faqs55-1.htm

Facts of the U.S. Navy’s role in the Amistad case.

U.S. v Amistad


Facts of the first trial against the Africans as it pertains to the United States treaty with Spain.


Examples of double heddle loom weaving.


Photographs of some of the important Amistad sites in New Haven.

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Student’s Reading List

Feelings, Tom. The Middle Passage, White Ships, Black Cargo. New York: Dual Books, 1995.

An emotionally moving illustrated book with an introduction by Dr. Henrik Clarke.

“Herald on Amistad Trial,” New York Morning Herald, 21 Nov., 1839


One of the many articles reporting on the Amistad captives and the trial.

Linder, Douglas, O. 2000 http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/amistad/AMI_ACT.HTM

The Trials


Timeline: The Amistad Revolt, http://amistad.mysticseaport.org/timeline/amistad.html

Useful list of all of the events of the Amistad Case

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Africans in Chains. John Warner Barber, 1840, New Haven Museum and Historical Society

Original art depicting the captives.

Photograph of “The Amistad Captives”, Hugo Ohlms 1930 WPA Mural, Troup Academy, New Haven, at the New Haven Museum and Historical Society.

Photos of the mural by Hugo Ohlms. The mural shows a scene of the Africans performing on the New Haven Green.

Amistad Movie, Spielberg, S. (Director). (May 4, 1999) Amistad [Motion Picture] Dreamworks Video.

Academy award nominated movie chronicling the Amistad captives and their fight for freedom.

Cinque. Oil on canvas by Nathaniel Jocelyn (1796-1881). New Haven, c.1840. New Haven Museum and Historical Society

Oil portrait of Cinque in a heroic pose.

Doolittle Map, 1824

Shows the original nine squares of the New Haven Green and surrounding area.

Eastern View of New Haven Green. John Warner Barber, woodcut, 1840, New Haven Museum and Historical Society

View of the New Haven Green.

Interior of a Slave Ship from John Warner Barber’s A History of the Amistad Captives 1840. New Haven Museum and Historical Society

Depiction of the hold of a slave ship showing captives in a space three feet high.

La Amistad. Watercolor on paper by an unknown artist. Connecticut after 1839. New Haven after 1839. New Haven Museum and Historical Society

Painting of the schooner.

Mutiny on the Amistad. Hale woodruff, oil on canvas, c. 1941, New Haven Museum and Historical Society

Scene of the mutiny.

Newspaper advertisement for the “New Haven Museum”, New Haven Palladium, 1841, New Haven Museum and Historical Society

Copy of actual newspaper article.

Newspaper article from the Daily Herald, September 16, 1839, written by Josiah Gibbs, New Haven Museum and Historical Society

Copy of actual newspaper article.

The Voyage of the Amistad Captives. John O.C. McCrillis, 1989, New Haven Museum and Historical Society

Map showing the route of the captives, Africa, Cuba, and North America.

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Appendix A:

Implementing District Standards

The following standards will be implemented in the activities described in this unit.

New Haven Public Schools Power Standards for the Visual Arts

1. Communicate in art media, techniques, and processes. (Art Making)

Students will:

·Understand that ideas for visual expression come from many sources.
·Select and apply a range of media, subject matter, symbols, and ideas.
·Create an original artwork in a variety of medium

2. Reflect upon, decide, analyze, interpret and evaluate one’s artwork and that of others. (Response to Art)

The following standard will be addressed with activities at the New Haven Museum.

·Students will know how culture, history, and the visual arts influence each other.

3. Making connections between the visual arts, other disciplines, and daily life.

Students will;

·Combine the process of image making and storytelling
·Recognize that the visual arts tell something about the time in history and culture in which they were created, as it relates to the images and memorials that have been created about the Amistad case.
·Demonstrate understanding of how the arts permeate all aspects of daily life.

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