Sailing the high seas to commemorate the abolition of the slave trade

For some, it's the experience of a lifetime.

Small groups of American and British college students are marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade by participating in a unique seafaring project.

They are spending time aboard Freedom Schooner Amistad, a reconstruction of the ship that made headlines in 1839 when about 50 slaves rebelled and took over the vessel.

The near-replica of La Amistad left New Haven, Connecticut in June for a round-trip of the northern Atlantic. Over a period of about 18 months, it's sailing to Nova Scotia, Britain, Portugal and the Azores; then down to Senegal and Sierra Leone on the west coast of Africa, where the Amistad captives originated. It will then traverse the ocean again to the Caribbean, will sail up to Bermuda and then along the east coast of the United States.

The students, who board the ship at different ports-of-call, are participating in a number of special events and also posting accounts of their experiences on-line. Freedom Schooner Amistad will be dropping anchor in Liverpool for the opening of the International Slavery Museum on August 23rd.

In 1839 the slaves were being transported to Cuba when they took over the ship. They eventually landed on Long Island, New York. They were captured and jailed in New Haven. However, with the help of local abolitionists, the surviving Africans won their freedom after a legal battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The captives attracted high-profile talent to defend them: they were represented by former President John Quincy Adams.

In our time, Steven Spielberg was also attracted to the story and directed the "Amistad" movie.

If you'd like to follow the voyage of Freedom Schooner Amistad, visit:
For more background, see:
The museum link in Liverpool is:
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