Amistad captain a hardcore slaver

Amistad America

Recent research, using previously unknown documents from Cuba show that Ramon Ferrer, captain of the of the slaver ship Amistad who was killed by the slaves in the famous uprising, was no minor wheel in the slave trade. Instead, he was a central and wealthy figure in the trade, which had hubs in New York City and Cuba. He used his considerable profits to finance railroads and other industry in Cuba, a telling example of how industrialization happened on the backs of slaves.

Michael Zeuske, a German researcher, found 170 year old documents in Havana showing that Ferrer controlled at least one other ship, and will now be going to London to research that ship.

“So, for me, this is a story of the globalization of the slave trade,” Zeuske said.

Bury the Chains by Adam Hochschild chronicles the birth and huge growth of the anti-slavery movement in Britain. It started with 12 men in a print shop in 1787 and soon grew to a mass movement. They staged the first boycott ever (against Caribbean sugar), petitioned Parliament, invented the lapel pin, did book tours, distributed flyers, put up posters,  and succeeded in banning slavery in Britain. Their innovative tactics laid the groundwork for countless social movements after them.

A replica of the Amistad leaves today from Mystic Seaport in Connecticut on an 18 month trip commemorating the abolition of slavery in Britain.