Capture of the slave-ship Cora

People Trafficking
Rescued East African slaves, 1869

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the slave trade was continuing illegally, though few slaves were reaching the U.S. Many were landed in Cuba, however. British and American warships patrolled the coast of Africa in an effort to intercept slavers. Numerous papers, including the New York Times, reported the capture of the Cora off Africa on September 30, 1860.

THE SLAVE-TRADE; The Bark Cora, of New-York, Captured on the African Coast. SEVEN HUNDRED AFRICANS ON BOARD, History of the Vessel and Her Movements List of Her Cargo.

ST. PAUL DE LOANDO, Sunday, Sept. 30, 1860.

We arrived here this afternoon, after a cruise of 23 days’ duration off the coast, during which we have visited all the slave ports of importance from this place as far to the northward as Loango. Nothing very remarkable occurred until the evening of the 25th, being about 80 miles from the coast and to the southward of the congo river, when a sail was discovered about five miles to windward, steering northwest. We made all sail, and after three-and-a-half hours’ chase succeeded in overhauling her, firing four 32-pound shot before she hove-to. She proved to be the bark Cora, of New-York, one day out from the coast, and having on board 705 slaves.

Sailing master EASTMAN, with an armed crew of fifteen men, was immediately sent on board and took charge of her as a prize. Her officers and crew, amounting to 28 persons, were transferred to this ship, and with the exception of her first, second and third mates, who were sent to the United States in her as prisoners, were brought to this port. During the chase she made every exertion to escape, showing no light and throwing overboard her boats, hatches, spare spars, and in fact clearing her spar deck of everything moveable to lighten the vessel.

She had on board a Spanish and an American crew. An individual giving the name of LORRETTO RINTZ (supposed to be fictitious) was found on board, and stated that he was master of the vessel. His real name is supposed to be LATHAM, by whom the vessel was cleared at New-York. Six of the Spanish crew were sent in her to take charge of the slaves until she arrives at Monrovia, where they with the slaves be landed, and the latter delivered to the United States agent for liberated Africans, after which the vessel is to proceed to Norfolk. Master T.H. EASTMAN, Midshipman W.B. HALL, and a crew of fourteen men, were sent to the United States in charge of’ the prize. No colors or papers were found on board.

She is a fine bark, newly coppered, of about 450 tons, and about eight years in service, and was formerly owned by Gov. MORGAN, of New-York. She is also a very fast sailor, and it is doubtful whether she would have been captured had any other vessel of the squadron been in pursuit of her. To increase the vigilance of the men stationed at the “look-outs,” Capt. NICHOLAS offered a reward of $50 to be paid to the person first sighting a vessel with slaves on board, and after the capture of the Cora paid the above amount to one of our seamen. Since her capture the reward has been raised to $120, the ward-room officers giving fifty and the steerage twenty. Hereafter slavers had better give the Constellation a wide birth.

Thanks to a tip from Robert Gray —

The Constellation was the last all-sail ship built for the US Navy, built at the Norfolk Naval Yard. The ship was in service until 1955 (in later years as a training ship). The ship has been fully restored, and is now docked in Baltimore, where tourists can visit.

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4 Responses to Capture of the slave-ship Cora

  1. Patricia Frederick Workman says:

    The first mate on the CORA was Morgan Fredericks who escaped when the CORA anchored at Brooklyn Navy Yard. The captain of the CORA later escaped while on furlough. Two other mates were imprisioned for 10 months and fined $500 each. Do you have any information on Morgan Fredericks. For example, his birthplace and date or what became of him?

  2. Espy says:

    I just had a pretty strong reaction (literally moments ago) to uncovering the first of my ancestors surely linked to slavery after years of digging off and on. Whew. She was listed by first and last name as well as description on this very boat in 1807. She landed at New Orleans from NY state, though. I googled the captain’s name and this is the first article I saw. I am so moved by the photo of the little sweet looking boys on board (who could be my little nephews). Thank you for a very interesting piece that makes my heart feel a little lighter in knowing that the very same vessel helped those sweet faces find a life outside of slavery and brought a tiny bit of justice even if only to the lower level officers on board. All this is blowing my mind in this very moment.

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