Amistad Freedom Trail, New Haven

Amistad Freedom Trail (Self Guided), New Haven

The Cuban schooner La Amistad made history in July 1839 when a group of African captives on board unshackled themselves during the voyage, took control of the ship, and eventually landed on the US shore. The slaves responsible for the revolt were interned in New Haven, Connecticut to be tried for mutiny and murder. The case known as The United States vs The Amistad (1841) gained international publicity and was finally decided in favor of the Africans, restoring their freedom.

The Amistad Freedom Trail in New Haven, CT, begins at the Amistad Memorial, a powerful sculpture that commemorates the slaves who fought for their liberty. Their story unfolds at the Center Church on the Green, where the captives were held in the aftermath of the revolt.

Moving forward, the United Church on the Green bears witness to the courtroom drama that unfolded during the trial of the Amistad captives. Battell Chapel, another crucial site, marks a turning point in the fight for justice and the abolition of slavery.

The Grove Street Cemetery, a serene final resting place for many, holds the graves of individuals who played pivotal roles in the Amistad saga.

The Amistad history journey culminates at the New Haven Museum, where artifacts, documents, and exhibits further illuminate the Amistad story, allowing visitors to grasp the broader context and significance of this chapter in American history.

Ultimately, the Amistad Freedom Trail in New Haven is not just a historical tour but a poignant reminder of the enduring struggle for freedom and justice. As you embark on this self-guided tour, let the legacy of the Amistad captives inspire you to work towards a more equitable society wherever you live!
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Amistad Freedom Trail Map

Guide Name: Amistad Freedom Trail
Guide Location: USA » New Haven (See other walking tours in New Haven)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.8 Km or 1.1 Miles
Author: AudreyB
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Amistad Memorial
  • Center Church on the Green
  • United Church on the Green
  • Battell Chapel
  • Grove Street Cemetery
  • New Haven Museum
Amistad Memorial

1) Amistad Memorial

The Amistad Memorial in New Haven is a bronze sculpture created by Ed Hamilton to recognize the events of the 1839 Amistad Affair. The latter involved kidnapping of 53 Africans and their subsequent mutiny aboard La Amistad ship. It led to a historically significant United States Supreme Court case, in which the Amistad captives were ruled to be acting in self-defense, thereby granting them the right to mutiny.

After the Amistad Africans won their court case, and their freedom, many members of the community volunteered their aid: the residents of New Haven gave them housing, tutoring, and legal aid. Participating residents formed the Amistad Committee; among them was John Quincy Adams, who defended the Amistad captives in their case in front of the Supreme Court. The Amistad captives assimilated into the community, and would spend time in the town's Green with the locals.

The memorial sits in front of the New Haven City Hall on Church Street, the location where the Amistad slaves were jailed during their trial. It was dedicated on September 18, 1992.

Each of the three sides of the memorial depicts Joseph Cinqué: on the first side, in his native clothing in Africa, on the second side, in court during his trials, and on the third side, after he won his freedom. The monument has a fourth side, facing up, which is only visible from the upper floors of the City Hall. It depicts a face and hands in water.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Center Church on the Green

2) Center Church on the Green

The Center Church of the Green, also known as The First Church of Christ (United Church of Christ / Congregational), is the middle church of the three located just near the New Haven Green Park. It was established in 1639. The present Georgian-style building was constructed in 1812, designed by architect Ithiel Town.

The church is famous for housing The Crypt, located in its basement, containing the identified remains of about 137 people, plus another 1,000+ of the unidentified ones, with gravestones dating back to 1687-1812, which is one of the rare colonial burial grounds preserved intact. The oldest dated stone there (1687) is that of Sarah Rutherford Trowbridge.

The church also features the beautiful Waterford crystal chandelier, Tiffany stained glass windows, and a Fisk Pipe Organ.

*** Amistad Freedom Trail ***
Back in the mid-19th century, this church congregation was actively involved in supporting the Mende African captives during the Amistad incident and were particularly instrumental in gaining support for the Africans held in the New Haven Jail.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
United Church on the Green

3) United Church on the Green

Originally known as the North Church, the United Church on the Green is the third of the three New Haven Green Park churches. It was constructed in 1814 in a Federal style by architect David Hoadley. In 1884, it merged with Third Church to create a United Church.

The United Church on the Green features tall white columns in combination with brick walls, thus creating an impressive sight. The steeple of the church has served as a model for other church steeples in the U.S. Another prominent feature of this temple is a pipe organ.

*** Amistad Freedom Trail ***
Several members of both congregations were ardent abolitionists and played an active role in assisting New Haven’s free black community. Among them were the Reverend Samuel Dutton, Nathaniel and Simeon Jocelyn, who was one of the three founding members of the Amistad Committee formed to raise a defense for the Amistad captives, as well as Roger Sherman Baldwin, member of North Church and a New Haven attorney, who offered legal services to the Mende African captives. After the captives were freed, the Amistad Committee arranged for their return to Africa. Commemorating that event is a memorial plaque inside the church.
Battell Chapel

4) Battell Chapel

Battell Chapel is the largest chapel of Yale University in New Haven. Built in 1874–76, it was funded primarily with gifts from Joseph Battell and other members of his family. The chapel is in High Victorian Gothic style of rough brown sandstone. It was the third of Yale's chapels and provided space for daily services, which were mandatory for Yale College students until 1926.

Together with Durfee Hall and Farnam Hall, the chapel was part of a program begun in the 1870s to build up the perimeter of Old Campus and separate it from the rest of the city. These three buildings, all by the same architect, were among the first at Yale to be named for donors rather than function, location, or legislative funding.

The Battell Chapel clock, with chimes consisting of five large bells that rang at each quarter hour, was at one time the clock to which others at Yale was synchronized; however, the chimes have been silent for years.

*** Amistad Freedom Trail ***
The Chapel symbolizes the role of the Yale Divinity School faculty and students played in helping the Mende Africans of La Amistad, and houses a themed exhibition maintained by Yale.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Grove Street Cemetery

5) Grove Street Cemetery

Grove Street Cemetery is a famous and historic cemetery surrounded by the Yale University campus. Despite its location, the cemetery is not owned by Yale nor is it part of the university in any way.

This cemetery was established in 1796 when a yellow fever plague caused a number of fatalities that was so large that the city's central burying ground would not suffice. Originally, the cemetery was six acres in size. More space was bought and converted into burial ground over the years that has allowed it to triple in size.

Several prominent New Haven citizens are buried in the cemetery, including former Yale University presidents, New Haven mayors and Connecticut Governors. Among the famous graves are the ones of Charles Goodyear, Eli Whitney and Noah Webster.

Grove Street Cemetery was named a National Historic Landmark in 2000. It has also been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1997.

*** Amistad Freedom Trail ***
Among those interred here are the active members of the abolition movement, as well as those associated with the African American history. A stone marker was dedicated by the Amistad Committee in September 2001 in remembrance of the six Mende African captives of La Amistad buried here.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
New Haven Museum

6) New Haven Museum

The New Haven Museum and Historical Society (originally known as the New Haven Colony Historical Society) was founded in 1862 for the purposes of preserving and presenting the region’s history. The museum collection includes art, photography, furniture and other artifacts pertaining to New Haven’s history and regularly presents programs and special exhibits. Among these are permanent New Haven, La Amistad, local art and decorative arts exhibitions, with collections associated with Eli Whitney, Winchester, Yale, East Rock, Noah Webster, Benedict Arnold, as well as changing exhibitions.

Educational programs provide interactive inquiry-based learning on local history. The Whitney Research Library at the museum contains manuscript and archival holdings relevant to the New Haven area from the time of the first settlement to the present. This collection includes rare books, more than 300 manuscript collections, including personal papers, business and institutional records, court and municipal documents, maps, 4,000 architectural drawings and resources, account books and a collection of approximately 75,000 photographs. It also contains approximately 30,000 printed titles including monographs and pamphlets.

The current Colonial Revival-style building was constructed in 1929 to the design by J. Frederick Kelly. The building includes a number of artifacts from demolished New Haven houses, including a mantelpiece and urns from the Nathan Smith house and a mantelpiece from the Benedict Arnold house. The Ingersoll Room in the museum is decorated with furniture and portraits from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, documenting the home and life of New Haven’s Ingersoll family.

*** Amistad Freedom Trail ***
The Amistad Gallery within the Museum features, among other exhibits, a portrait of Joseph Cinque, leader of the Mende African revolt aboard La Amistad, painted by New Haven artist Nathaniel Jocelyn (1796-1881) in 1840. The gallery also features documents from the trial, including letters from John Quincy Adams and the Mende African captives.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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