Seventy-two U.S. slaves began a new life in Bermuda following a Supreme Court case that gave them their freedom.
The episode, which captivated Bermudians for a week, began on February 11, 1835, when the Enterprise, a U.S. brig with 78 slaves on board, landed in Bermuda after encountering bad weather. The ship was on its way to Charleston, South Carolina from Alexandria, Virginia.
Slavery had been abolished in Bermuda seven months earlier, in August 1834, and Richard Tucker, an enterprising hotelier and president of the Young Men's Friendly Institution, sprang into action after Bermuda authorities took steps to prevent the ship from leaving.
He applied to the Supreme Court in a bid to have the slaves set free because they were in a country where slavery was no longer legal. During a packed Supreme Court hearing, the slaves were asked, one by one, what they wished to do. All but six said they wanted to remain on the Island. The Court granted them their wish.
On February 18, 2010—the 175th anniversary of the landmark ruling—Chesley Trott's statue ‘We Arrive’ was unveiled at Barr's Bay Park, the site of the landing [pictured, right]
Sources: Bermuda—Five Centuries by Rosemary Jones; Heritage by Dr. Kenneth E. Robinson