[ south side ] "Make Us Free"
This monument is a memorial to the 1839 Amistad Revolt and its leader, Sengbe Pieh, also known as Joseph Cinque. Sengbe Pieh was one of the millions of Africans kidnapped from their homes and transported in bondage to the Americas. Sold into slavery in Cuba, he and forty-eight other men, and four children were bound aboard the schooner La Amistad. During a storm, Sengbe Pieh successfully freed himself and his fellows. The Africans seized the ship, but their offers to steer La Amistad homeward were thwarted. After futile weeks at sea, they were captured off Long Island by the U.S.S. Washington.[ east side ]
On this site, the Amistad Africans were jailed awaiting trial for piracy and murder. To aid their struggle for freedom, the Amistad Committee formed, counting in its number ministers Simeon Jocelyn, Joshua Leavitt, and James Pennington; merchant Lewis Tappan; professor Josiah Gibbs; and lawyer Roger Baldwin. The Africans were tried twice prior to their ultimate triumph before the United States Supreme Court, where former President John Quincy Adams courageously defended them. Sengbe Pieh and his fellows were declared Free Persons.[ north side ]
The Africans sought to return home. To raise funds for their voyage and to further the anti-slavery cause, they engaged in a series of speaking tours. In 1841, after a sojourn that profoundly influenced the abolitionist movement, they set sail, free at last.
To commemorate the heroism of the Amistad Africans and those who shared in their quest for freedom, the 1989 Amistad Committee commissioned his sculpture by Ed Hamilton and dedicated it on September 26, 1992.