Barr's Bay Park /"We Arrive" sculpture
We are here at Barr’s Bay Park in the City of Hamilton. February 11, 1835 a ship called The Enterprise limped into Barr’s Bay Park, after being blown off the course by a strong gale. This ship was heading from Virginia to South Carolina, andon board it were 78 enslaved people.
Just six months earlier, August 1834, slavery was abolished throughout the British Overseas Territories including Bermuda. Upon the ship’s arrival, the customs authorities refused to give clearance until the matter concerning the enslaved people, the cargo, was resolved. Word soon spread around the island of the ship’s arrival, and the “passengers” on board, and movements were lodged by the Young Men’s Friendly Societies to assist the people onboard. It was here where the fate of the enslaved people’s lives changed forever.
Mr. Richard Tucker from the Young Men’s Friendly Societies received a “writ of Habeas Corpus” from Chief Justice Thomas Butterfield, and this was given to the Captain of the Enterprise. All the Enslaved people and the ship’s Captain appeared before the chief justice in the courtroom that February. All 78 enslaved people were given the choice of continuing to South Carolina and be sold as slaves, or remain in Bermuda and become free.
Of the 78 enslaved people, 72 chose freedom and remained in Bermuda, however, there was one woman with five children who chose to continue onto South Carolina. Her reason, she had other children in America and didn’t want to be outside of the country, away from her other children.
The 72 newly freed enslaved people remained in Bermuda and came under the care of the Young Men’s Friendly Societies and continued their lives in Bermuda. Today, many black Bermudians can trace their ancestry to those enslaved people from the Enterprise, who gained their freedom in 1835.
When the Enterprise ship returned to America, the company that owned the ship took the British Government to the International courts based on a maritime law stating that “Bermuda had stolen its cargo”. Keep in mind, in America the enslaved were not Emancipated until 1865. The International Court ruling found the British Government guilty and they had to pay the company that owned the Enterprise ship, $17,000 as compensation for the loss of its property, the 72 enslaved people who remained in Bermuda.
This sculpture, "We Arrive" was erected February 2010, on the 175th anniversary of the arrival of the Enterprise. It is to pay homage to the enslaved people who arrived in Bermuda on that ship, whose lives were changed when they obtained Freedom in Bermuda. The statue was created by Bermudian artist Chesley Trott.”