On August 26, 1839, a mysterious ship was discovered off Long Island. It was the schooner Amistad. On board were 42 Africans, from the Mende region of West Africa, and two Spaniards, who had purchased the Mende in the Havana slave market and had chartered space on the Amistad to transport the enslaved Africans to sugar plantations along the coast of Cuba. On the fourth night at sea, a group of the Mende broke out of their irons. Led by Sengbe Pieh, a rice farmer who would later become known as Joseph Cinque, they took over the ship and took command, intent on sailing the Amistad back to Africa. Instead, some two months later, the Amistad reached Long Island Sound, desperate for water and provisions. The ship was intercepted by a U.S. Navy brig. The Navy took custody of the Amistad, its cargo, and the 42 Africans, and proceeded to Connecticut. Legal proceedings would follow, continuing all the way to the United States Supreme Court, on the question of whether the Mende were slaves and therefore "property," or whether they were free people.