tv Last Slave Ships CSPAN August 27, 2015 6:44pm-6:59pm EDT
open cuba instead of a free cuba -- the cuba that is open for american businessmen to go and make money, instead of concern about the rights of the cuban people and the aspirations of the cuban people to be free and enjoy basic human rights that every human being is entitled to. hear with this openness is we are going to be able to go and do business. that would be great if americans could go and do business. that is not the case. by feelhere, you play castro's rules -- fidel castro's rules.
i think the institute can play a pivotal role in bringing cuban people together. that is why i have dedicated 30 years of my life to this cause. or bring back to or establish ang multipurpose facility that serves as a museum, library, educational center, community center. it has become a great cultural center for key west. the real purpose has been for carlos to serve as a place that puts into action principles and ideals for cubans. those ideals of human rights and human dignity for the cuban people.
announcer: key west was an entry point in the transatlantic slave trade. illegal slave trade continued even after the act prohibiting importation of slaves. tour, the city's story of the 1500 africans on three ships captured by the u.s. navy. >> the really sad part is that a lot of them were sick from being on these ships. they were not well taken care of. the slaving crews were not about taking care of people. died during their time here in key west. buried in graves on the south shore. this is the story of three slave
ships that wound up in key west in 1860. it was the dying days of the transatlantic slave trade. in the late 1700s a lot of people started questioning seriously the morality of it all. you started seeing the end of trade itself. first, 18 o seven, england outlawed the trade across the ocean, in 1808 the u.s. to the same. spain in 1820. that did not mean that people already here could get out of slavery. it only meant it was illegal to bring people across the ocean on ships. of course there was a lot of money to be made. after the early 1800s, the clandestine nine slave trade --ung up -- clint
clandestine nine slave trade sprung up. illegal ships.ng people did it anyway. cuba sorth century, of coincided with the end of the legal transatlantic slave trade. the cuban sugar industry started to take off. in the early and mid-1800s, cuba began to become the world possible are just producer of largest world's producer of sugar. keeping it successful required a huge amount of slave labor. the whole business was predicated upon slavery. -- to keepthere was their key of success moving forward required more captive
african people to be brought into cuba to make the plantation thrive. --1860 the legal slave trade illegal slave trade was escalating. what we are seeing at this time is a lot of american slave ships from places like new orleans, new york going to africa, , and carrying them to cuba to sell them to the sugar industry. the spike in 1859 really triggered an outcry. our government decided enough is enough. there were too many americans participating who had wanted to end it for decades. they were going to eradicate this. president buchanan ordered a
blockade of cubans by the u.s. navy and stationed four u.s. navy steamers around cuba. two on the south coast, two on the north. the purpose was to intercept american flavors going into the island. in the spring -- american going intoslavers the island. in the spring, they intercepted slavers. if you weeks later they intercepted the bogota. each ship had roughly 500 people. of navy crews took control the slave ships. they towed them here to key west. key west was the nearest u.s.
port to cuba. over that three or four weeks. 1432 african people. the crews were jailed here. the ships were seized and auctioned. , the africanen people were housed here on the 1860d for the summer of until something could be figured out. they were taken charge of five the u.s. government. a man named fernando marino build housing for them. they build a compound. -- built a compound. it was on a southwestern shore of the island. sleep, aa place to hospital, kitchen.
those people lived for those until an that compound answer could be figured out. we do know a little bit about the people that were here in key west. shipsw that two of the had gone to the congo river and acquired people from their -- there. gone andhe bogota had acquired people from other cultures. some could not speak to each other. we know a little bit about their time here in key west. a mother and her daughter arrived here in key west on the wildfire, the first ship that came. compound.in the
one week later the william arrived, it's people were discharged and brought to the compound. there are accounts written that this woman as she watched through the fence as people from the william arrived, she started screaming with excitement. of her family members, it is not clear if they were her nieces or daughters arrived on the william. you have the family reunion here in key west. people that did not know what had happened, they knew it was horrible. there they are, back together again. they were thrilled to be together. they never left the compound. they were not allowed to. they were considered wild africans. sure if these people were holy human sometimes -- some people thought that. they were interesting to the people in key west. they were interesting to the people visiting.
they would go down and watch these people through the fence. we know that they spent their days drumming with barrels. they would spend their days dancing. their time here, they took as good care of them as they could. there were three doctors and a nursing staff working 24 hours a day. the sad part is a lot of them are really, really sick from being on these ships. they were not well taken care of. the slaving crews were all about money. it was not about taking care of people. a lot of them were very ill. a lot of them could not recover. died during their time here in key west.
graves onburied in the south shore of island. we do have records. there was great debate amongst our government representatives and the president as to what the answer was. here,eople said, they are put them into slavery. we could use them in some of the plantations. others said, and no, these are -- no, these are free people. the final answer was neither. the final answer was, let's send them to liberia. liberia had been established in the 1820's by the u.s. in a group called the american colonization society. it was a refuge on the west coast of africa for liberated slaves, friedman, as well as
people captured from slave ships. when they crossed the ocean again to go to liberia, more people died. even though they were meant to be taken care of, they were too sick. the food was inadequate. another couple of hundred people died crossing the ocean again. by the time they all arrived in liberia, fewer than half the number that had started in the original crossing. museum we have had a strong interest in the slave trade. we studied a shipwreck for a while. it was a london-based slaver that wrecked. we looked about that and were able to shed a lot of light on it. with that interest, we have
always kept our eyes open on other interesting slave trade related stories. there was a historian working here in the keys named gail swanson. she uncovered some information west. map from 1861 key it showed a notation called african cemetery. she figured that had to relate to this story. we decided to zero in on where that site might be. said what isit and the best way to survey the area without going and digging. we settled on ground penetrating interest.ur area of we brought in a specialist to help.
we surveyed the area, low and behold within two hours, we found graves exactly where we thought they would be. 2002.as in 20 -- wonderful discovery to have this history and a physical presence here still to remind us. it has been wonderful. the community is supportive, there is now a memorial. we have done other surveys and found even more grace -- graves in this area. site. tremendous of not only the transatlantic slave trade but a reminder of these poor