January: Sengbe Pieh (Cinque), a Mende, is seized and sold into slavery in the interior of West Africa.
The Spanish slaving BrigTecora loads slaves off Lomboko, at the mouth
of the Gallinas River, on the West African
coast below the British Colony of Sierra Leone.
(2 month middle passage)
Late June: The
Africans are brought to barracoons in Havana.
Jose Ruiz, a Spaniard planter from Puerto Principe, buys 49 adult males, paying
$450 for each. Pedro Montes, another planter from the same region, buys 4
children, 3 of them girls.
June 22: Pedro Montes obtains passports to transport his “ladinos” to Puerto Principe.
June 26: Ruiz obtains passports to transport his “ladinos” to Puerto Principe.
June 28: Ruiz and Montes walk their 53 slaves through Havana, board the Amistad at 8 pm. Near midnight they weigh anchor and get underway.
July 1: On the third night out, Cinque and Grabeau free and arm themselves and then the others.
July 2: 4 am: REVOLT.
(over the next 2 months the Amistad sails east by day, north by night, through the Bahamas and up the North American coastline, into United States waters.)
Late August: As it passes by New York, the “black schooner” has several encounters with pilot boats, stirring up rumors on shore of pirates.
August 25: The Amistad anchors off Long Island and lands a shore party to obtain provisions. Late in the afternoon, Henry Green and company encounter the Africans’ shore party.
August 26: Early am, Lt. Richard W. Meade, commanding the surveying Brig USS Washington , comes on the scene, seizes the schooner and escorts it to New London.
August 27: Amistad reaches New London. U.S. marshal Norris Willcox notifies U.S. federal district judge Andrew T. Judson.
At an inquiry aboard the Washington, Ruiz and Montes demand as property the 39 surviving adult African males, the 4 children and the Creole cook Antonio
Judge Andrew T. Judson hears testimony aboardWashington and decides to put matter to a grand jury, at U.S. Circuit Court in Hartford next September. The Africans are taken to the New Haven jail.
"The Long, Low Black Schooner" goes on stage in the Bowery Theater
in New York City.
September 4: New York abolitionists announce the formation of the “Amistad Committee” to raise funds for legal counsel and to support the Africans in jail. Lewis Tappan, Rev. Joshua Leavitt, and Rev. Simeon Jocelyn take the lead.
September 6: The Spanish minister in Washington formally demands that the Africans be returned to Cuba to stand trial for mutiny and murder.
September 9: Yale professor Josiah Gibbs finds Mende speakers on the docks of New York -- James Covey and Charles Pratt -- and takes them to New Haven to interview the Africans.
New York abolitionists name Lewis Tappan, Joshua Leavitt, and Simeon Jocelyn the Amistad Committee to raise funds for defense of the Amistad captives.
September 19: The first round of trial begins in the U.S. Circuit Court at Hartford, Judge Thompson presiding.
September 23: Though he expresses doubt as to the legality of the Africans’ enslavement, Judge Thompson denies their motion for writ of habeas corpus, keeping them in custody in the New Haven Jail.
October 17: Tappan has several of the Africans bring civil suit against Ruiz and Montes for assault and battery and false imprisonment. The Spaniards are arrested in New York City.
October 22: Hearings begin in the New York Court of Common Pleas, Judge Inglis presiding.
Within a week, the court frees Montes, and reduces Ruiz’s bail. Montes flees to Cuba. Ruiz eventually makes bail and flees as well.
November 19: The second round of trial opens at the federal district court in Hartford, Judge Judson presiding.
Abolitionists try to get the case dismissed on grounds the “salvage” should have been taken to New York. They then introduce evidence demonstrating that the Africans were not legally enslaved. The court eventually postpones the hearing until January, and moves its location to New Haven.
November 25: The publication of Madden's trial testimony reinforces popular awareness that the Africans are bozales, not ladinos.
January 2: Secretary of State John Forsyth orders the Navy to prepare to transport the Africans to Cuba as soon as the district court ruling is reached, before an appeal can be lodged. The Navy dispatches the USS Grampus to wait in New Haven harbor for this purpose.
January 7: District court proceedings resume in New Haven. U.S. District Attorney for Connecticut William S. Holabird announces that the Spanish government has merged the claims of Ruiz and Montes with those of the U.S.
Various witnesses testify that the blacks are Africans, Mendes, bozales.
January 8: Cinque testifies, describing his capture, enslavement, middle passage, sale in Havana, revolt, encounter with Green...
Grabeau and Fuliwa also testify.
January 13: Judge Judson affirms the jurisdiction of district court, and dismisses Green’s salvage claim. The court awards salvage to Gedney and the two Spaniards. The court also rules the Africans were not legally enslaved. On the question of murder and piracy, the court holds that only a Spanish court can rule, but since Spanish law would have effect only if the Africans were bozales, as they were not, there was no point in returning them to Cuba.
The court places the captives under charge of the U.S. President, to be returned to Africa.
The U.S.S. Grampus departs New Haven.
President Van Buren orders the U.S. District Attorney to appeal the District Court ruling, to the U.S. Circuit Court meeting next April. The Spaniards also appeal.
April 14: On a motion from John Calhoun, the Senate passes a resolution declaring that a ship on the high seas during peacetime engaged in a legal voyage falls under the sole jurisdiction of that vessel’s country.
April 29: Next round of trial opens at the Circuit Court at New Haven, Judge Thompson presiding. Thompson eventually affirms the decision of the District Court pro forma, passing the responsibility for the final ruling along the U.S. Supreme Court.
June 16: An exhibit of wax figures of the Amistad Africans goes on display in Peale's Museum in New York City.
December 10: In the U.S. House of Representatives, John Quincy Adams accuses Van Buren administration of falsifying documents in the case. A committee is appointed to investigate the affair.
January 4: The House of Representatives adopts Adams committee report, but does not censure the administration.
February 22: The U.S. Supreme Court begins hearing the Amistad case.
Februrary 23: Supreme Court proceedings continue. Baldwin concludes his arguments.
February 24: Adams begins presenting his argument.
March 1: Adams continues.
March 2: Attorney General Henry D. Gilpin concludes arguments for the U.S.
March 9: Justice Story delivers the decision of the Court, affirming the Africans’ freedom.
Late March: Antonio, the cook, disappears, surfacing a month later in Montreal.
The Africans are moved from Westville to Farmington, Connecticut.
March 19: The Court removes the African girls from the Pendletons’ custody, placing them with the other Africans.
May 12: The Africans appear before an audience of several thousand in New York City's Broadway Tabernacle to display their learning and recount the story of their enslavement and revolt -- part of an extended tour to raise money to pay for their return voyage.
August: Foone drowns, in what seems to have been a suicide.
August 18: A convention assembling in Hartford, Connecticut at the Congregational Church ministered by African-American abolitionist James W.C. Pennington forms the Union Missionary Society, to promote and sponsor evangelical missions to Africa. Several of the Amistad Africans attend the convention, as the "Mendi Mission" will be the Society's first major initiative. Pennington is elected President.
Nov 27: Thirty five survivors depart New York for Africa aboard the Gentleman, accompanied by two Black Americans, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Wilson, and three whites, Rev. and Mrs. William Raymond and Rev. James Steele, to minister the “Mendi Mission.”
January: The Africans reach Sierra Leone.
After several false starts, Rev. Raymond establishes a mission at Komende in the Sherbro region. By this point the Amistad survivors have dispersed.
The Amistad Committee transforms itself into the American Missionary Association, assuming financial responsibility for the Mendi Mission.
Female child captive Margru returns to U.S., studying at Oberlin College, 1848-49, before returning to Sierra Leone as missionary Sara Margru Kinson.