La Amistad was a 120-foot 19th-century two-masted schooner used in domestic coast wide trade around Cuba and other islands in the Caribbean. La Amistad carried sugar-industry products – and human slaves.

La Amistad was used primarily to deliver enslaved Africans to various ports around Cuba and was not a part of the so-called Middle Passage that saw millions of African slaves transported to the Americas as part of the triangular slave trade.

La Amistad belonged to Spaniard Ramon Ferrer.

Ferrer sailed La Amistad out of Havanna on June 28, 1839, bound for the sugar plantations in Port of Guanaja with 53 African slaves, 49 adults and four children onboard.

When New Bedford Provided Shelter For The Tall Ship Amistad
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media

The slaves had been captured and sold to European slave traders and illegally transported by a Portuguese ship from Africa to Cuba in violation of European treaties against the Atlantic slave trade.

Three days into the journey, the slaves escaped bondage and took control of the ship, killing the captain and some crew members.

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La Amistad was discovered off the coast of New York by the naval brig USS Washington and taken into custody. The courts eventually determined that the slaves had been illegally transported and held as slaves.

The 35 surviving slaves were freed and returned to Africa.

When New Bedford Provided Shelter For The Tall Ship Amistad
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media

Ownership of La Amistad changed hands several times, and there is no record of what happened to the vessel after 1844.

A replica of La Amistad, the Amistad was built in Mystic, Seaport, Connecticut, from 1998-2000. The vessel is Connecticut's State Flagship and Tall Ship Ambassador.

In August 2019, while en route from Nova Scotia to Martha's Vineyard to celebrate a visit by President Barack Obama, Amistad stopped in New Bedford to clear customs. A menacing Hurricane Bill lurking off the Atlantic Coast forced Armistad to remain in New Bedford longer than expected.

Amistad was berthed alongside the schooner Ernestina-Morrissey on New Bedford's waterfront to ride out the storm.

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