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US Custom House

The U.S. Custom House, designed by architect Robert Mills in 1833, was where the cargo of La Amistad was auctioned in October 1840. A separate incident is recognized by a plaque on the building’s facade: in 1858, an escaped slave won his freedom through the legal efforts of Judge Augustus Brandegee and Custom official, John Mather. Two conflicting laws were on the books, the Connecticut Personal Liberty Law which would free the slave and the U.S. Fugitive Slave Act which would return him to slavery. Letting the slave make the decision if he wanted to be captive or free, the man chose freedom. The Custom House is now a museum, as well as a working custom house. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is maintained by the New London Maritime Society.


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