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May 10, 2007
From journal Historic Hartford
by Mary Dickinson
August 11, 2004
One of the many display boards on the wall of a former administrative office on the second floor, shows a pen and ink drawing of what the Old State House looked like in 1834, near the time of the Amistad trial. The beautiful brick and sandstone Federal style building graced the center of Hartford much as it does today, but then it was surrounded by dirt roads and hitching posts for horses and buggies and the view from the east lawn went all the way to the river. Today the river view is blocked by Routes 91 and 2.
The Africans would have entered the second floor by outside staircases, but now there are magnificent double staircases leading from one floor to the next inside the building. They must have been awed by the twenty foot ceiling held up by ten giant columns, the grand brass chandelier hanging from the center of the ceiling, the two ornate symmetrical fireplaces and the huge twelve over twelve double hung windows in the court room. It’s a lot different than the circular bamboo huts they were used to in Africa.
Maybe they noticed the statue of Justice holding her scales and weighing all the pros and cons carefully as she stood on the cupola on the roof. Today, she’s missing some of her paint over her wooden body and stands retired in the third floor corridor; she was replaced with a fiberglass replica in 1979. Maybe the farmers with their fruits and vegetables stood at the west entrance on Main Street selling their produce, just as they do today. The Amistad Africans’ case is history that still brings a message to the people; seek justice through the courts and change the way things are.
From journal The Amistad and the CT Freedom Trail