Nauticus Hosts Freedom Schooner Amistad

Throughout December, Nauticus invites the public to explore a recreation of La Amistad, a 19th century schooner that has become a symbol of the movement to abolish slavery. Freedom Schooner Amistad is operated by AMISTAD America, Inc., a non-profit organization based in New Haven, Connecticut, whose mission is to educate the public on the history of slavery, discrimination and civil rights. Freedom Schooner Amistad is berthed at the Nauticus Pier and will be open to visitors daily from December 2 through December 31, 2009, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. There is no admission charge to tour the ship.

In 1839, La Amistad was the scene of a revolt by African captives being transported from Havana to Puerto Principe, Cuba. After taking control of the ship, the Africans were later captured by the U.S. Navy, which subsequently led to a Supreme Court case concerning violation of the Slave Trade Act. The case took on historic proportions when former President John Quincy Adams successfully argued on behalf of the captives, whose importation into the U.S. as slaves had been prohibited since 1808. In 1841, the 35 surviving Africans were returned to Africa.

Norfolk is one of several ports being visited as part of the 2009/2010 Historical Caribbean Freedom Tour, which will culminate in a return to Havana, Cuba on March 25, 2010, the 10th anniversary of the ship's first launch from Mystic Seaport, Connecticut and from where the original Amistad departed. The ship, constructed between 1998 -2000, was built by artisans using traditional skills and construction techniques common to 19th century wooden schooners, but with modern materials and engines. The Freedom Schooner Amistad is now Connecticut's State Flagship as well as its Tall Ship Ambassador, and is homeported in New Haven, Connecticut.

The Freedom Schooner Amistad was never a slave ship; however its visit complements Nauticus' new National Geographic exhibit, Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship, located in the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center adjacent to the museum. For timed tickets, visit Ticketmaster or purchase them at the Nauticus Admissions desk.

Posted on 11 Dec 2009