Joseph clinque

By: Brianna Robinson

Joseph's Background

  • Joseph Clique was a West African who led a slave mutiny on the Cuban Amidst ship in 1839.
  • It led to a celebrated trial in United States courts, which held that slaves escaping from illegal bondage should be treated as free men.


  • A rice farmer and trader among the Mende people, his birth name was Singbe-Pieh.
  • Cinqué was abducted in 1839 while working in his rice field.
  • He was taken to the Sierra Leone slave depot known as Lomboko, held in chains for months, and put on board a slave ship bound for Cuba. In Havana, he was included in a group of men, women, and children sold to slave trader José Ruiz. Ruiz and another trader, Pedro Montes, hired the schooner Amistad to carry them all the two slave traders and 53 slaves to Puerto Principé, a region in central Cuba where the slaves were to be put to work on sugar plantations.


  • The Amistad sailed on June 27, 1839 with a crew consisting of the Captain, two Spanish crewmen, a Creole slave, and a mulatto slave
  • Cinque spoke with several of his comrades and, although all were not of the same tribal heritage and could not completely understand one another, the entire group of men agreed the ship must be taken
  • Cinque maintained command of the vessel, sometimes through use of force, until it and all survivors were taken captive by the crew of the U.S. Washington on August 26, 1839.
  • Cinque returned to Africa with missionaries and the remaining Amistad survivors