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Original Documents Responses to Enslavement

Affidavit of Singweh, an AMISTAD African
1839
Courtesy of Library of Congress, Manuscript Divisions
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Document Description
Singweh (Cinque) was the leader of a mutiny of captive Africans aboard the slaveship Amistad. His court testimony describes his capture and the physical and mental hardship he and the other captives endured on the vessel. In court, it was later argued that these circumstances justified the extreme response taken by Singweh and his fellow prisoners during the middle passage journey.

Transcript
State of Connecticut
County of New Haven, ss New Haven Oct 7, 1839

Singweh, a colored man, deposeth and saith, that he was born at Mani, a town in Jopoa in the Mendi country in Africa, and that his king Mahe Katumbo resided at Kwommendi, capital of Jopoa in said Mendi country; that he was sold by Birmaja son of Shaka, king of Gendumah in the Fai country to a Spaniard about 6 moons ago, that he was brought from Lomboka in a vessel with two masts, that he was landed at a village one day from Havanna, where he was kept 5 days, then taken to another village nearer to Havanna where he was kept 5 days more, that he was taken there by night on foot through Havanna to the vessel which brought him from Havanna, that he was driven by force and put on board said vessel; that they sailed the next morning, that by night his hands were confined by irons, that a board said vessel he had not half enough to eat or drink only two potatoes and one plantain twice a day and half a tea cup of water morning and evening, that he was beaten on the head by the cook in presence of Pipi, who claims to be his owner, and Montez and that he was told one morning after breakfast that the white man would eat them when they landed.

The above named deponent
subscribed this affidavit by making the annexed mark in my presence, and the said affidavit was taken by me the day, year and place first above written by the aid of James Covey who was sworn as Interpreter, and interpreted the questions put to said deponent and his answers thereto under oath, and said deponent declared that the said affidavit was true and that God knew it to be true, before me

Samuel J. Hitchcock
Judge of New Haven County Court

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