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Joseph Cinque
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    (circa 1811-circa 1879)
    Born in Sierra Leone
    Birth name was Sengbe Pieh
    Member of the Membe ethnic group
    Captured by slave traders and sold in Cuba
    Led a revolt while being transported to a sugar plantation on the ship Amistad (June 30, 1839)
    Amistad eventually reached American waters off Long Island, New York
    Tried for mutiny and murder
    Case appealed to the Supreme Court (1841)
    Portrayed by Djimon Hounsu in 'Amistad' (1997)
    Little is known about his life before and after the Amistad revolt.
    He and his followers killed the Amistad's captain and cook with machetes.
    On his return to Africa, he clashed with Christian missionaries, one of whom called him 'both dishonest and licentious.'
    He was rumored to have become a slave trader himself after his return to Africa.
    Symbionese Liberation Army founder Donald DeFreeze used his name as a nom de guerre.
    He and his fellow mutineers had been seized illegally in violation of international treaties banning the slave trade.
    Former President John Quincy Adams argued his case before the Supreme Court.
    The Supreme Court ruled that since the Africans had been sold illegally, they had the right to revolt to regain their freedom.
    He was described as 'a powerful natural orator born to sway the minds of his fellow men.'
    His clashes with the missionaries had more to do with his refusal to either play second fiddle to the whites or to give up his native beliefs than his behavior.
    Historians have found no evidence to support the slave trading allegations.

Credit: C. Fishel

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