Greetings from the staff of the Amistad Research Center. We intend for this blog to act as a space to inform the public about events, exhibits, initiatives, acquisitions, and other news. This blog will also serve as a more informal forum for showcasing highlights from our rich collections. We welcome any comments or questions about items showcased or our holdings in general.
The Amistad Research Center was founded in 1966 to document the modern civil rights movement and today is the nation’s largest independent archives specializing in chronicling America’s rich ethnic heritage. The Center traces its earliest roots to the Amistad Committee (a precursor to the American Missionary Association), a proto-Abolitionist group who initially banded together in 1839 to represent the Mende Africans following their rebellion on the Cuban vessel La Amistad. Their case ultimately went to the Supreme Court of the United States, where the captives were represented by then-former President John Quincy Adams.
Shown here is a May 1841 letter of thanks to Adams, written by some of the Mende Africans. It reads in part:
We thank you very much because you make us free because you love all Mendi people. They give you money for Mendi people and you say you will not take it because you love Mendi people. We love you very much and we will pray for you when we rise up in the morning and when we lie down at night. We hope the Lord will love you very much and take you up to heaven when you die. We pray for all the good people who make us free. Wicked people want to make us slaves but the great God who has made all things raise up friends for Mendi people he give us Mr. Adams we write our names for you.
Dear Friend, We write this to you because you plead with the Great Court to make us free and now we are free and joyful we thank the Great God. I hope God will bless you dear friend. Mendi people will remember you when we go to our own country and we will tell our friends about you and we will say to them Mr. Adams is a great man and he plead for us and how very glad we be and our friends will love you very much because you are a very good man and oh how joyful we shall be. Mendi hope the great God will send down His Holy Spirit upon you and have mercy upon you and that our dear saviour Jesus Christ will bless you and give you a new heart. We write this because you plead for us. We give you good love.
Posted by Andrew Salinas
(Letter from the American Missionary Association Archive, Amistad Research Center. Image may not be reproduced without permission.)