Freedom schooner ‘Amistad’: construction begins Spring 1998

Freedom schooner ‘Amistad’: construction begins Spring 1998

After four years of planning Mystic Seaport and Amistad America, Inc. laid the keel of the freedom schooner Amistad on Sunday, March 8, 1998. This ceremony, in which the vessel is put in place, is the shipbuilding equivalent of a groundbreaking and signifies the beginning of construction of this approximately $2.8 million, 77-foot, hand-hewn vessel. When complete, Amistad will ply the nation’s waterways as an educational ambassador teaching the lessons of history, cooperation and leadership inherent in the Amistad story to Americans of all ages, interests and cultural backgrounds. Construction is expected to conclude in the spring of 2000.

Building the freedom schooner Amistad is made possible by a State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development bond, and by the project’s lead corporate sponsor, Phoenix Home Life Mutual Insurance Company based in Hartford, Connecticut. The project is being administered by Amistad America, Inc. A not-for-profit organization responsible for the fund-raising and long-term care of the vessel. George Bellinger, chairman of Amistad America, said the keel laying “is a proud moment that many committed people have worked long and hard to reach.”

Other Mystic Seaport Amistad-related projects include a CD-ROM for grade school children and an Amistad Web site, “Exploring Amistad: Race and the Boundaries of Slavery in Antebellum Maritime America,” . The exhibition Voyage to Freedom which features primary historical documents and artifacts opened in December 1997. Mystic Seaport was founded in 1929 and houses the largest collections of maritime photography and boats in the world.

COPYRIGHT 1998 Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Inc.

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