Last updated: July 24, 2017
Between September 19 and 23, lawyers representing the Mende sought writs of habeas corpus (the release of a party from unlawful restraint) before the U.S. Circuit Court. Presiding Judge Smith Thompson denied this motion, and left disposition of the Mende to the U.S. District Court. At the same time, the District Court, also meeting in the Statehouse, ruled that the Africans could not be sold in the state of Connecticut as "salvage" against the claims of Ruiz and Montez, the planters who had bought the Africans in Cuba. The second round of the trial began here when the District Court, with Judge Andrew Judson presiding, met from November 19-20, but the court eventually postponed the hearing until January 7, 1840, when the court would meet in New Haven. The publicity surrounding these hearings increased sympathy for the Mende. The question still remained whether or not the Africans were legal Cuban slaves, and they remained in the New Haven jail. The hearings determined that the Africans' mutiny against the crew of the Amistad did not occur within U.S. boundaries. Therefore, the Africans could not be tried for mutiny and murder in this country.
During this two-month period in Hartford, before the change of venue to New Haven, Roger Sherman Baldwin, serving as defense lawyer for the Amistad Africans, developed the basis for his argument on behalf of the Africans that would lead to the U.S. Supreme Court judgment in 1841.
This is just one of many places associated with the Amistad event. To learn more about other places, please access the main Visit page of this itinerary.