At its most fundamental, the Underground Railroad involves two things: First, enslaved people making a move to gain their freedom; Secondly, assistance from others to help them achieve their goal. By these criteria, the Underground Railroad is not always a road. It can just as easily be a mutiny and a court case. In the Amistad Mutiny, the enslaved rose up to take back their freedom. They were then assisted by many throughout their court case in Connecticut. After the successful conclusion of the court case, those taken into slavery, now free, were to set sail to Sierra Leone. Before leaving for their trans-Atlantic crossing, they anchored the night to say their farewells at Staten Island. This represents the end of their journey to freedom. Read more about their final night in America below.
Explore primary sources related to The Amistad, including the writ of Habeas Corpus for Joseph Cinque aka Sengbe Pieh at: https://tinyurl.com/y57dxvk5.
On Thursday morning, the Mendians, the Missionaries, and several friends, went on board the barque Gentleman, which is to convey them to Sierra Leone. A steamboat towed the barque to the lower harbor. Nothing could exceed the delight manifested by the Mendians as they found themselves fairly started on their way. As the vessel proceeded, the whole company assembled in the cabin of the steamboat to spend an hour in a meeting suited to the interesting and solemn occasion...At the conclusion Cinque rose and replied - his remarks being interpreted by Kin-na - and his pathos, tenderness, deep feeling, and powerful eloquence astonished those present who had never heard him before, and it was a deeply affecting scene to all. Mr. T. then read to Cinque a Farewell Address in verse, written by Joseph L. Chester, one of the company. The steamboat having reached the place of anchorage, off Staten Island, and being about to cast off, the whole company knelt while Deacon Townsend of New-Haven offered the Lord's prayer, the Mendians repeating each sentence after him, as they have been accustomed to do. The benediction was then pronounced by Rev. Mr. Andrews. The bell rang, and an affecting leave was taken of the Mendians and the Missionaries. The steamboat moved back to the city, leaving these dear brethren and sisters to pursue their long passage across the trackless ocean. At the dawn of day, Saturday, Nov. 27, the barque proceeded to sea with a fine breeze. In thirty to forty days it is hoped they will safely arrive at Sierra Leone.
Published in THE COLORED AMERICAN, on December 25, 1841, titled "THE AIMSTAD AFRICANS. FAREWELL MEETINGS AND EMBARKATION." Courtesy of Accessible Archives.