The Long, Low, Black Schooner, Charleston Courier , 5 Sept. 1839., Part 1.
By A. S. Willington & Co. (City Printers)
September 5, 1839
(From the N. Y. Sun)
THE LONG, LOW, BLACK SCHOONER. The whole of the Particulars concerning the Piracy, Mutiny, and Murders, on board the Spanish schooner Amistad, which was captured on Monday last, and carried into New London, Conn.
No sooner had the proprietor of the Sun heard of the capture of the suspicious schooner, which has excited so much remark of late, that he took efficient and prompt measures to procure full particulars. In pursuance of this purpose we have procured at a most enormous expense a cut of the vessel, and a most accurate likeness of the chief who devised the plan. The portrait was taken by that most talented native artist James Sheffield, Esq., of New London; and is for sale at the desk, splendidly lithographed. It will be seen that our account is continued up to last night, and embraces every particular connected with this important affair from the first to the last.
In the month of June last Don Jose Ruiz, a wealthy and noble Spaniard, left his estate at Principe and proceeded to Havana to buy slaves. At Havana he purchased 49 from a cargo which had just arrived from the Coast of Africa. To forward his purchase home he chartered the schooner Amistad, Ramon Ferres, master, and sole owner. Together with his slaves he shipped a number of packages, partly his own and partly on freight. The packages contained a regular assortment of goods for that market. There was some crockery, some copper, and many dry goods, besides fancy articles for amusement or luxury. Personally Senor Ruiz had but little money on board, although the captain was supposed to have specie to the amount of $8000 in doubloons. Besides this cargo the Amistad received on board Don Pedro Montez, and four slaves, as passengers. The slaves of Senor Montez were from the same cargo as those of Ruiz, but were all children between the ages of 7 and 12. Three of the four were females, and one a male. The crew of the schooner consisted of the captain, his two slaves, and two white men. The slaves of Ruiz and Montez were all Congolese negroes, only six weeks from the Coast of Africa, four of which, at least, had been spent on the passage. One of the captain's slaves was a mulatto, and employed as cook; the other a black boy, named Antonio, who is yet on board the schooner.
The schooner is of Baltimore clipper build, about 170 tons burden, 6 years old, and was called the Friendship, which being Hispaniolised, means Amistad She was insured at Havana to her full value. Senor Ruiz is insured $20,000, and it is supposed the rest of the shippers also were.
On the 28th of June, 1839, this vessel sailed from the Havana for Guanaja, the port of entry for Principe. Among the slaves purchased by Ruiz was one called, in Spanish, Joseph Cinquez, who is the son of an African chief. This Cinquez is one of those spirits which appear but seldom. Possessing far more sagacity and courage than his race generally do, he had been accustomed to command. His physical proportions are those best calculated to endue privation. His countenance when in repose looks heavy, but under excitement it assumes an expression of great intelligence. His eye is that of a Spaniard, and can exhibit every variety of thought, from the cool contempt of a haughty chieftain to the high resolve which would be sustained through martyrdom. His lips are thicker and more turned up than those of his race in general, but when opened displays a set of teeth rivaling [sic] in beauty the most regular of those which we praise so much in Caucasian beauty. But his nostrils are the most remarkable feature he possesses. These he can contract or dilate at pleasure. His general deportment is free from levity, and many white men might take a lesson in dignity and forbearance from the African Chieftain, who, although in bondage, appears to have been the Oseola of his race. In height he is just 5 feet 7 3/4 inches, has a full chest, large joints and muscles, and built for strength and agility.
The head of this extraordinary man, now only 26 years of age, is one that, in phrenological parlance, indicates the strongly marked character of its possessor. The forehead is high and perpendicular, no receding; it would most properly be called round. The organs of locality, individuality and eventuality, are very prominently developed. Causality, comparison and hope, rather small. Language is very good. In his head the moral sentiments predominate. Benevolence, veneration and conscientiousness, very large. Combativeness and destructiveness are only moderately developed. Perhaps, however, the strongest points are adhesiveness, concentrativeness and firmness. These indicate unshaken courage, and intense love of home and kindred. He is, taking him for all and all, one calculated to excite the deepest interest in his behalf, and just the man to invent and become the leader in such an event as that which has thrown him on our shores.
[The particulars of the massacre will be found in the testimony.]
About two days after the rising they had a heavy gale, which drifted them into the Bahamas Channel. Here they boxed about again, but saw no vessels; at least being out of water, the negroes ordered Montez to make the nearest land, which proved to be the Island of St. Andrews. Here the negroes met no one. After this, Montez steered for New Providence, but the negroes were not disposed to land. By this time Joseph had learned to steer, and he took the helm in the day, leaving one of the white men to steer at night. Every night Joseph slept near the helm, and had two of the most trusty negroes by his side watching, and ready to awake him on the least alarm.
During this interval the negroes broke open the hatches and pillaged the cargo. Among it they found wine, raisins, and a great quantity of medicines; all this they ate indiscriminately. Ten died in a short time, and others would have done so, had not Joseph forbidden the rest to touch any thing but what he gave them. Any infraction of this wholesome regulation brought down on the head of the offender a severe personal chastisement from the hands of the chief. Joseph lived abstemiously during the whole trouble, and insisted on the most obedience to his orders. The only food eaten was portioned out by his hand, and not a box of the cargo opened but under his direction. He divided the spoil, taking the smallest portion for himself. He was the master spirit on board; every thing felt his influence. We confess that during all this time the whites were in a most wretched condition, and their hope of escape very small. In the night they steered to the west, and succeeded in persuading Joseph to keep to the north of east in the day.
About the fifteenth of this month, as the Spaniards suppose, for they had lost knowledge of dates and days, they came in sight of Long Island. In the interval they had been boarded by several vessels, one of which supplied them with a demijohn of water. They had seen many vessels and signalized them, but were unable to call their attention. When any vessel came alongside Joseph would stand by Ruiz, the only man who speaks English, and watch him with fearful intensity.
The organ of communication between Senor Ruiz and the Congolese, was Antonio, the captain's slave. He is by birth an African, but has lived in Cuba 8 or 10 years. He speaks both Congolege [sic] and Spanish. He had been employed as a cabin boy.
On the 20th of this month they were hailed by pilot boat No. 3; which gave them some apples. Joseph, having some fear of betrayal, would not allow Ruiz to speak with these. Pilot boat No. 4 came alongside also, but they were not permitted to board. On the 24th they made Montauk light, and stood for it, hoping to run the vessel ashore, but the tide drifted them up the bay. They then came to anchor off Culloden Point, where the negroes went ashore to lay in water. Between the fifteenth and twenty-fourth they had anchored about thirty times, at different places on the coast.
The negroes who went ashore at Culloden were almost naked, and the inhabitants were exceedingly alarmed. They were two days in the neighborhood without any attempt being made to arrest them. Only in two instances did they succeed in bartering with the inhabitants for provisions once for a doubloon, and once for a musket. While engaged in watering they were fallen in with by Captain Green, and another gentleman from Sag Harbor, who had visited the point on a shooting excursion. Captain Green immediately saw that all was not right, and gave them to understand that they should be taken care of.
Either before or immediately after Capt. Green and his friend had retired, the boat of the cutter Washington came in sight and boarded the vessel. Immediately on seeing a gentlemen in uniform, Senor Ruiz went up to him and said:
"These negroes are my slaves; they have risen and taken the vessel; that is the leader, (pointing to Joseph) and I claim your protection."
Lieuts. Porter and Meade then immediately took possession, disarmed the negroes, and took the schr. in tow. Joseph on seeing this, went below, and tieing (sic) some gold about his person, he leapt out of the main hatch, and at one bound was over the side. While under the water he disengaged the doubloons and came up about 100 yards from the vessel, having been under water at least 5 minutes. The boat was instantly manned and sent in chase of him. When the boat neared him he would stop, but just as it came within his reach he would dive down and come up again some yards behind her stern. He thus employed them about 40 minutes, when, seeing further attempts useless, he gave himself up. When pulled on board the boat he smiled and putting his hands to his throat, intimated that he was going to be hanged. Joseph was then transferred to the Washington, but he seemed so uneasy and displayed so much anxiety to return to the schooner that he was humanely gratified. On once more joining the Amistad [sic] the poor wretches clustered around him, making the most extravagant demonstrations of joy. Some laughed, some screamed, some danced, and some wept. Joseph stood in the midst, but did not even smile. When the noise had subsided, he addressed them in Congolese, which was translated by Antonio as follows:
"Friends and Brothers--We would have returned but the sun was against us. I would not see you serve the white man, so I induced you to help me kill the Captain. I thought I should be killed--I expected it. It would have been better. You had better be killed than live many moons in misery. I shall be hanged, I think, every day. But this does not pain me. I could die happy, if by dying I could save so many of my brothers from the bondage of the white man."
By this time, the excitement had risen to such a pitch that the officer in command had Joseph led away by force and returned to the Washington. Even this the hero bore with stoical dignity, while his poor countrymen uttered the most piercing yells. On board the Washington he was manacled to prevent his leaping overboard. Even this failed to elicit the slightest perceptible emotion. This was on Tuesday. On Wednesday he signified by motions that if they would take on board the schooner again, he would show them a handkerchief full of doubloons. He was accordingly sent on board. His manacles were taken off and he once more went below to receive congratulations, even more wild and enthusiastic than those of Tuesday. Antonio was told to watch and listen to him. Instead of finding the doubloons, he again addressed the negroes, which, according to the interpretation of Antonio to Spanish, and from Spanish to English by John Jay Hyde, Esq., editor of the New London Gazette, was as follows:
"My brothers I am once more among you, having deceived the enemy of our race by saying I had doubloons. I came to tell you that you have only one chance for death, and none for liberty. I am sure you prefer death, as I do. You can by killing the white men now on board, and I will help you, make the people here kill you. It is better for you to do this, and then you will not only avert bondage yourselves, but prevent the entailment of unnumbered wrongs on your children. Come--come with me then--"
Antonio made the signal and the unsubpued [sic] chief was dragged from the hold, again manacled, and put on board the Washington. While making this speech, his cheek shone, and his eye was often turned to the sailors in charge. The negroes yelled and looked as fiercely as he did. They leapt about and seemed like creatures under some talismanic power. On his way to the Washington, the hero moved not a muscle, but kept his eye fixed on the schooner. On board the Washington he made a thousand gestures and motions to be taken on deck, as if on some urgent and important errand. But when led up he only looks at the schooner, and remains with his eyes fixed upon her till taken below again. He evinces no emotion and had he lived in the days of Greece and Rome his name would have been handed down to posterity as one who had practiced those most sublime of all virtues--disinterested patriotism and unshrinking courage. Now most probably he will be hanged as a murderer and pirate.
On Wednesday night, Captain Gedney, dispatched an express to the U. S. Marshal at New Haven, who gave information to his Honor A. T. Judson, U. S. District Judge. On Thursday morning both these gentlemen arrived, and after careful deliberation, concluded to hold their court on board the Washington then lying off the Fort, within musket shot of the schooner. Lieut. Wolcott kindly offered the services of the U. S. cutter Experiment to take all interested on board the Washington. The U. S. Marshal politely took us under his protection.
At anchor, on board the U. S. Cutter Washington, commanded by Lieut. Gedney.
NEW LONDON, AUG. 29, 1839.
His Honor Andrew T. Judson, U. S. District Judge, on the bench, C. A. Ingersoll, Esq. appearing for the U. S. District Attorney. The court was opened by the U. S. Marshal. The clerk then swore Don Pedro Montez, owner of part of the cargo, and three of the slaves, and Don Jose Ruiz, also owner of part of the cargo, and forty nine of the slaves. These gentlemen then lodged a complaint against Joseph Cinquez, (the leader of the alleged offense) Antonio, Simon Lacis, Peter, Martin, Manuel, Andrew, Edward, Caledonis, Bartholomew, Raymond, Augustine, Evaristo, Casimiro, Mercho, Gabriel, Santario, Escalastico, Pasehal, Estanilaus, Desiderio, Nicholas, Stephen, Thomas, Cor[-]ino, Lewis, Bartolo, Julian, Frederick, Saturnio, Larduslado, Celistino, Epifanio, Tevacio, Genancio, Philip Francis, Hipiloto, Venito, Tidoro, Vicinto, Dionecio, Apolonio, Ezidiquiel, Leon, Julius, Hippoleto 2d, and Zidnon, or such of the above as might be alive at that time. It was ascertained that Joseph Cinquez, and 38 others, were alive, and on the complaint an indictment was framed charging them with murder and piracy on board the Spanish schooner Amistad.
Joseph Cinquez, the leader, was brought into the cabin manacled. He had a cord around his neck, to which a suff [sic] box was suspended. He wore a red flannel shirt, and duck pantaloons. The portrait we had taken is an excellent likeness, but it is deficient in the hero-like expression of his eye and brow. His appearance was neat, and in cleanliness would compare advantageously with any colored dandy in Broadway. He was calm and collected. Occasionally he smiled with a melancholy but determined expression, but he evinced no fear. At intervals he motioned with his hand that he expected to be hanged, and then for a moment would gaze intensely on his accusers.
Lieut. R. W. Meade, who speaks the Spanish language both elegantly and fluently, acted as an interpreter between the Spaniards and the court. The poor prisoner did not understand a word in either language, and stood a mute spectator, although interested in the event.
Several bundles of letters were produced, saved from the Amistad [sic], and such as were unsealed read. The contents being simply commercial can be of no interest to the reader. Among the papers were two licenses from the Governor of Havana, Gen. Ezpelata, one for three slaves, owned by Pedro Montez, one of the men saved, and 49 owned by Senor Don Jose Ruiz, the other that has escaped, allowing the said slaves to be transported to Principe, and commanding said owners to report their arrival to the territorial Judge of the district, in which Principe is situated. A license was found permitting Pedro Montez, a merchant of Principe, to proceed to Matanzas, and transact business, which was endorsed by the Governro [sic] of Havana, and the officer of the port. Regular passports were produced, allowing the passengers to proceed to their destination. A license was found permitting Lelestino Ferrers, a mulatto, owned by Captain Raman Ferrers, and employed as a cook, to proceed on the voyage. Other licenses for each sailor were produced and read, all of which were regularly signed, and endorsed by the proper authorities.
The Custom House clearance, dated the 18th May, 1838, was produced. Also another dated 28th June, 1839, all regular. Several licenses permitting goods to be shipped on board the Amistad were read, and decided to be regular.
Lieut. R. W. Meade testified that he was in the boat which boarded the Amistad, and demanded the papers, which were unhesitatingly delivered. Previous to this demand Senor Don Jose Ruiz [sic] had claimed protection for himself and Don Pedro Montez, the only two white men on board. The protection was immediately granted and the vessel brought to New London.
Many of the events which are detailed in the narrative were omitted in the evidence as having no bearing on the guilt or innocence of the accused, in the present state of the proceedings.
Senor Don Jose Ruiz was the next sworn, and testified as follows. I bought 49 slaves in Havana, and shipped them on board the schooner Amistad. We sailed for Guanaja, the intermediate port for Principe. For the four first days everything went on well. In the night heard a noise in the forecastle. All of us were asleep except the man at the helm. Do not know how things began; was awoke by the noise. This man, Joseph, I saw. Cannot tell how many were engaged. There was no moon. It was very dark. I took up an oar and tried to quell the mutiny; I cried no! no! I then heard one of the crew cry murder. I then heard the captain order the cabin boy to go below and get some bread to throw to them, in hope to pacify the negroes. I went below and called on Montez to follow me, and told them not to kill me; I did not see the captain killed. They called me on deck, and told me I should not be hurt. I asked them as a favor to spare the old man. They did so. After this they went below and ransacked the trunks of the passengers. Before doing this they tied our hands. We went on our course--don't know who was at the helm. Next day I missed Capt. Ramon Ferrer, two sailors, Manuel Pagilla, and Yacinto--and Selestina the cook. We all slept on deck. The slaves told us next day that they had killed all; but the cabin boy said they had killed only the captain and cook. The other two, he said had escaped in the canoe--a small boat. The cabin boy is an African by birth, but has lived a long time in Cuba. His name is Antonia, and belonged to the captain. From this time we were compelled to steer east in the day: but sometimes the wind would not allow us to steer east, then they would threaten us with death. In the night we steered west, and kept to the northward as much as possible. We were six or seven leagues from land when the outbreak took place. Antonio is yet alive. They would have killed him, but he acted as interpreter between us, as he understood both languages. He is now on board the schooner. Principe is about two days sail from Havana, or 100 leagues, reckoning 3 miles to a league. Sometimes when the winds are adverse, the passage occupies 15 days.
Senor Don Pedro Montez was next sworn. This witness testified altogether in Spanish, Lt. R. W. Meade, interpreter.
We left Havana on the 28th of June. I owned 4 slaves, 3 females and 1 male. For 3 days the wind was ahead, and all went well. Between 11 and 12 at night, just as the moon was rising, sky dark and cloudy, weather very rainy, on the 4th night, I laid down on a mattrass [sic]. Between 3 and 4 was awakened by a noise which was caused by blows given to the mulatto cook. I went on deck, and they attacked me. I seized a stick and a knife, with a view to defend myself. I did not wish to kill or hurt them. At this time the prisoner wounded me on the head severely with one of the sugar knives, also on the arm. I then ran below and stowed myself between two barrels, wrapped up in a sail. (Here the prisoner motioned for his snuff box.) The prisoner rushed after me and attempted to kill me, but was prevented by the interference of another man. I recollect who struck me, but was not sufficiently sensible to distinguish the man who saved me. I was faint from loss of blood. I then was taken on deck and tied to the hand of Ruiz. After this they commanded me to steer for their country. I told them I did not know the way. I was much afraid, and had lost my senses, so I cannot recollect who tied me. On the second day after the mutiny, a heavy gale came on.