One of Those Days?

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Alas, it happens to all of us.  Why?  I don’t know, honestly.  Perhaps it is because we truly did get up on the wrong side of the bed in the morning and you tripped over someone else’s shoes in the process!  Or, you cook  your instant oatmeal and it only needs some milk but when you go to the fridge, you discover that someone left only a teaspoon of milk left in the carton!

It might be your boss that causes the problem.  They come in with some ridiculous request (“This is really good work, but could you make turn this apple into an orange?”) that is impossible.  You’d think that any sane person would know it couldn’t be done…but hey, they’re your boss right?  So who ever said they were sane to start with?

Sometimes it is a series of many small things piled one on top of another that make your day go sour.  You bite the inside of your mouth while eating breakfast, you have a flat tire on the car, you get to the drive-through for lunch only to find that your kids swiped your cash and  your spouse purloined your debit care – and with that, your day is officially off to the races in a bad way.

Well, take heart, me mateys!  Even pirates have bad days.  Take Cap’n Jack in today’s photo.  Doesn’t he look forlorn?  I mean, his eyes are downcast, his sword tip rests on the ground rather than being brandished overhead…and most likely, the Black Pearl has gone missing yet again.  (Either that or he just got word that there will be no more sequels!)  Oh, one more possibility: he has a rip in his lederhosen?

Shot at Photoshop World in Atlanta, spring 2014.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  early in the morning in 1839,  Africans on the Cuban schooner Amistad rise up against their captors, killing two crew members and seizing control of the ship, which had been transporting them to a life of slavery on a sugar plantation at Puerto Principe, Cuba.

In 1807, the U.S. Congress joined with Great Britain in abolishing the African slave trade, although the trading of slaves within the US was not prohibited. Despite the ban on the importation of African slaves, Cuba continued to transport captive Africans to its sugar plantations until the 1860s, and Brazil to its coffee plantations until the 1850s.

On June 28, 1839, 53 slaves recently captured in Africa left Havana, Cuba, aboard the Amistad schooner for a sugar plantation at Puerto Principe, Cuba. Three days later, Sengbe Pieh, a Membe African known as Cinque, freed himself and the other slaves and planned a mutiny. Early in the morning of July 2, in the midst of a storm, the Africans rose up against their captors and, using sugar-cane knives found in the hold, killed the captain of the vessel and a crew member. Two other crew members were either thrown overboard or escaped. Cinque ordered the Cubans to sail the Amistad back to Africa. During the day, two crew members complied, but at night they would turn the vessel northerly, toward US waters. After almost nearly two difficult months at sea, during which time more than a dozen Africans perished, what became known as the “black schooner” was first spotted by American vessels.

On August 26, the USS Washington, a U.S. Navy brig, seized the Amistad off the coast of Long Island and escorted it to New London, Connecticut. Ruiz and Montes were freed, and the Africans were imprisoned pending an investigation of the Amistad revolt. The two Cubans demanded the return of their supposedly Cuban-born slaves, while the Spanish government called for the Africans’ extradition to Cuba to stand trial for piracy and murder. In opposition to both groups, American abolitionists advocated the return of the illegally bought slaves to Africa.

The story of the Amistad mutiny garnered widespread attention, and U.S. abolitionists succeeded in winning a trial in a U.S. court. Before a federal district court in Connecticut, Cinque, who was taught English by his new American friends, testified on his own behalf. On January 13, 1840, Judge Andrew Judson ruled that the Africans were illegally enslaved, that they would not be returned to Cuba to stand trial for piracy and murder, and that they should be granted free passage back to Africa. The Spanish authorities and U.S. President Martin Van Buren appealed the decision, but another federal district court upheld Judson’s findings. Van Buren, in opposition to the abolitionist faction in Congress, appealed the decision again.

On February 22, 1841, the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing the Amistad case. U.S. Representative John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts, who had served as the sixth president of the United States from 1825 to 1829, joined the Africans’ defense team. Adams had been an eloquent opponent of slavery, and before the nation’s highest court he presented a coherent argument for the release of Cinque and the 34 other survivors of the Amistad.

On March 9, 1841, the Supreme Court ruled, with only one dissent, that the Africans had been illegally enslaved and had thus exercised a natural right to fight for their freedom. In November, with the financial assistance of their abolitionist allies, the Africans departed America aboard the Gentleman on a voyage back to West Africa. Some of the Africans helped establish a Christian mission in Sierra Leone, but most, like Cinque, returned to their homelands in the African interior. One of the survivors, who was a child when taken aboard the Amistad as a slave, eventually returned to the United States. Originally named Margru, she studied at Ohio’s integrated and coeducational Oberlin College in the late 1840s before returning to Sierra Leone as evangelical missionary Sara Margru Kinson.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Why are many coin collection jar banks shaped like pigs?  Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of dense orange clay called ‘pygg’. When people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars became known as ‘pygg banks.’  When an English potter misunderstood the word, he made a container that resembled a pig.  And it caught on.

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