Boott Cotton Mills

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In 1839, 53 enslaved people onboard the Spanish schooner “Amistad” revolted against their captors. They took over the ship while in transit between Cuban ports. The group of enslaved Mende people attempted to force the remaining crew to take them back to Africa, but the crew went north instead and landed in Long Island, New York. The enslaved men were captured and put on trial for mutiny and piracy in federal court in Hartford, Connecticut. Many abolitionists sided with the 53 Africans and raised money for their cause. The Spanish government demanded that President Martin Van Buren turn over the prisoners without a trial, but the case went up to the Supreme Court. In a 7-1 decision the court ruled that the captive Africans were illegally taken from Africa, and were granted their freedom.

While in the United States the former captives toured New England. In Lowell the men spoke at a fundraising meeting, where they received 106 dollars in donations that went towards their passage back to Africa. The men also toured the Boott Cotton Mills, where they were escorted by a mill agent and shown the different mechanized steps in factory work.


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