In January 1839, a group of Mende Tribe Africans, were captured by Spanish traders and shipped to Cuba, where the Africans were bought by two plantation owners who intended to take them to their own plantations on another part of the island on the ship La Amistad. During that journey, the Mende revolted against their captors and tried to force the Spanish to sail them back to Africa. The Spaniards sailed north by night unbeknownst to the Africans, and the Amistad reached Long Island Sound on August 27, 1839. In search of food and water, the Mende deboarded on Montauk Point, Long Island, where they were recaptured by the Federal naval brig, Washington and escorted to nearby New London Harbor, Connecticut. The Amistad remained in New London, until it was sold 14 months later and its cargo auctioned at the New London Customhouse. The riveting trial of the Amistad Africans, including their legal defense by former President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, began in Connecticut and led to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Mende remained in Connecticut, as their fate was being debated and decided, for the next two years: in court in Hartford and New Haven (where the Mende were held in jail during much of the trial), and finally to Farmington where they spent three months while funds were raised for their return journey to Sierra Leone--places where important chapters of the Amistad story played out. Source: National Park Service.
On October 1, 1985, by an act of the General Assembly and the efforts of the Nathan Hale Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, Nathan Hale officially became Connecticut's State Hero.
Born in Coventry, and educated at Yale University, Hale served as a school master until he was commissioned as a captain in the Continental Army in 1775. In September of 1776, at the request of General George Washington for a volunteer, Hale crossed enemy lines to gather information as to the strength and plans of the British Army. Caught while returning, he was hanged as a spy on September 22, 1776, without the benefit of a trial.
The Patriot's dedication to our country is enshrined in the immortal words "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." By every action of his short life, Hale exemplified the ideals of patriotism. Source: State of Connecticut