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Encyclopedia > United States v. The Amistad
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La Amistad (Spanish: friendship) was a Spanish merchant ship on which a rebellion by the slaves it was carrying broke out in 1839 when the schooner was travelling along the coast of Cuba. The ship was taken over by a group of Africans who had been kidnapped in Africa and illegally sold into slavery. The Africans were later apprehended on the vessel near Long Island, New York by the United States Navy and taken into custody. The ensuing widely publicized court cases in the United States helped the abolitionism movement along. In 1841, a federal trial court found that the initial transport of the Africans across the Atlantic had been illegal and that they were not legally slaves but free; after being affirmed on March 9, 1841 by the United States Supreme Court on appeal, the Africans travelled home in 1842. Italian ship-rigged vessel Amerigo Vespucci in New York Harbor, 1976 A ship is a large, sea-going watercraft, sometimes with multiple decks. ... This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... 1839 was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... Two-masted fishing schooner A schooner is a type of sailing ship characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts. ... // Etymology World map showing Africa (geographically) The name Africa came into Western use through the Romans, who used the name Africa terra — land of the Afri (plural, or Afer singular) — for the northern part of the continent, as the province of Africa with its capital Carthage, corresponding to modern-day... Jump to: navigation, search The Buxton Memorial Fountain, celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, London. ... This article is about Long Island in New York State. ... Jump to: navigation, search The United States Navy (USN) is the branch of the United States armed forces responsible for naval operations. ... Jump to: navigation, search This poster depicting the horrific conditions on slave ships was influential in mobilizing public opinion against slavery in the United Kingdom and the United States. ... 1841 is a common year starting on Friday (link will take you to calendar). ... The Atlantic Ocean is Earths second-largest ocean, covering approximately one_fifth of its surface. ... Jump to: navigation, search March 9 is the 68th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (69th in Leap years). ... 1841 is a common year starting on Friday (link will take you to calendar). ... Jump to: navigation, search Seal of the Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the United States, the highest court in the United States of America, is the head of the Judicial Branch of the Federal Government. ... Jump to: navigation, search 1842 was a common year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ...

Contents


Rebellion at sea

The voyage of the Amistad began on June 28, 1839 in Havana, Cuba (which was then a Spanish colony), where the 53 Africans had purportedly been bought as slaves. The ship was headed to Puerto Principe, Cuba. However, on July 2, 1839, one of the Africans named Cinqué was able to free himself and the other captives. They killed the ship's cook (who had earlier scared the slaves by describing how they would be killed and eaten upon arrival) and the captain in a struggle in which two of the Africans also died. Two sailors escaped. The lives of the two purported slave owners, Ruiz and Montez, were spared, with the understanding that they would steer the ship to Africa. The captain's personal slave also survived. Jump to: navigation, search (Some entries on this page have been duplicated on August 1. ... 1839 was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... Havana (Spanish: San Cristóbal de La Habana; UN/LOCODE: Habana (CU HAV)) is the capital of Cuba and, with a population of 2. ... Evan is so hot, sexy, and cool! Remember that. ... The mud jars The statue of Ignacio Agramonte on the Plaza de Revolucion Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Soledad Rooftops of Camagüey and Maceo street Iglesia San Francisco and Estadio Cándido González in the background Camagüey (founded as Santa María del Puerto del Pr... Jump to: navigation, search July 2 is the 183rd day of the year (184th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 182 days remaining. ... 1839 was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... // Etymology World map showing Africa (geographically) The name Africa came into Western use through the Romans, who used the name Africa terra — land of the Afri (plural, or Afer singular) — for the northern part of the continent, as the province of Africa with its capital Carthage, corresponding to modern-day...


The navigator managed to deceive the Africans and steered the Amistad north along the coast of the United States, where the strange ship was sighted repeatedly. They arrived off Long Island, New York on August 26, 1839, and anchored within half a mile of the shore. Some of the Africans went on shore to procure supplies of water and provisions, and the vessel was then discovered by the United States naval brig Washington. Lieutenant Gedney, commanding the Washington, assisted by his officers and crew, took possession of the Amistad, and of the Africans on shore and in the vessel, took them into the state of Connecticut, and there presented a written claim under admiralty law (that is, a libel) for salvage of the vessel, the cargo, and the Africans. It has been alleged that Gedney chose to land in Connecticut, because, unlike in New York, slavery was still technically legal there (though extremely rare), and he hoped to profit from the slaves. Jump to: navigation, search August 26 is the 238th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (239th in leap years). ... 1839 was a common year starting on Tuesday (see link for calendar). ... State nickname: The Constitution State Other U.S. States Capital Hartford Largest city Bridgeport Governor M. Jodi Rell (R) Senators Chris Dodd (D) Joe Lieberman (D) Official languages English Area 14,371 km² (48th)  - Land 12,559 km²  - Water 1,809 km² (12. ... Admiralty law (usually referred to as simply admiralty and also referred to as maritime law or Law of the Sea) is a distinct body of law which governs maritime questions and offenses. ... In English and American law, and systems based on them, libel and slander are two forms of defamation (or defamation of character), which is the tort or delict of making a false statement of fact that injures someones reputation. ... Jump to: navigation, search State nickname: The Empire State Other U.S. States Capital Albany Largest city New York City Governor George Pataki (R) Senators Charles Schumer (D) Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) Official languages None (English is de facto) Area 141,205 km² (27th)  - Land 122,409 km²  - Water 18...


The Amistad cases

A case before the United States Circuit Court in Hartford, Connecticut was filed, alleging mutiny and murder. Various parties also claimed property rights to the slaves: Ruiz and Montez, Lieutenant Gedney and Captain Henry Green (who had met the Africans while on shore in Long Island and claimed to have helped in their capture). The Spanish government asked that the ship, cargo and slaves be restored to Spain under the Pinckney treaty of 1795 between Spain and the United States. Article 9 of this treaty holds that "all ships and merchandises of what nature soever, which shall be rescued out of the hands of pirates or robbers on the high seas, [...] shall be restored, entire, to the true proprietor." The judge ruled that the court lacked jurisdiction as to the mutiny and murder charges, because the alleged acts took place on a Spanish ship in Spanish waters. He directed the U.S. District Court to sort out the various property claims. The United States Courts of Appeals (or circuit courts) are the mid-level appellate courts of the United States federal court system. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Mutiny is the crime of conspiring to disobey orders that the mutineer is legally obliged to obey, for example by crew members of a ship. ... Pinckneys Treaty, also known as the Treaty of San Lorenzo or the Treaty of Madrid, was signed in San Lorenzo de El Escorial on October 27, 1795 and established intentions of friendship between the United States and Spain. ... 1795 was a common year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... A judge or justice is an official who presides over a court. ... A court is an official, public forum which a public power establishes by lawful authority to adjudicate disputes, and to dispense civil, labour, administrative and criminal justice under the law. ... In law, jurisdiction refers to the aspect of a any unique legal authority as being localized within boundaries. ...


The abolitionist movement had formed the "Amistad Committee" and collected money to mount a defense of the Africans. Their main argument before the District Court was that a treaty between Britain and Spain of 1817 and a subsequent pronouncement by the Spanish government had outlawed the slave trade across the Atlantic. It was established that the slaves had been captured in Mendiland (current Sierra Leone) in Africa, sold to a Portuguese trader in Lomboko (south of Freetown) in April 1839, and taken to Havana illegally on a Portuguese ship. The Africans were therefore not slaves, but victims of illegal kidnapping and free to go. Their papers wrongly identified them as slaves that had been in Cuba since before 1820, a common practice in Cuba condoned by government officials. Jump to: navigation, search This poster depicting the horrific conditions on slave ships was influential in mobilizing public opinion against slavery in the United Kingdom and the United States. ... 1817 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... Jump to: navigation, search Mendiland is the extreme southwest portion of Sierra Leone on the western coast of Africa, where the Mende tribe lives and the Mende language is spoken. ... For other cities of the same name, see Freetown (disambiguation). ... April is the fourth month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar and one of four with the length of 30 days. ... 1820 was a leap year starting on Saturday (see link for calendar). ...


Initially, communication with the Africans was difficult, since they did not speak English or Spanish. Professor Gibbs learned to count to ten in their native Mende language, went to the harbor of New York City, and counted out loud until he located a person able to understand and translate. That person was James Covey, a twenty year old sailor, of the ship Buzzard, a British man-of-war. Covey was himself a former slave from West Africa. The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Josiah Willard Gibbs was a linguist and professor of Theology and sacred literature at the university of Yale. ... The Mende are a large tribe (population approximately 700,000) living primarily in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. ... New York City, officially named the City of New York, is the most populous city in the United States, the most densely populated major city in North America, and is at the center of international finance, politics, entertainment, and culture. ...


The abolitionists filed charges of assault, kidnapping, and false imprisonment against Ruiz and Montez. Their arrest in New York City in October 1839 outraged conservatives and the Spanish government. They were eventually released on bail and left for Cuba. In criminal law, kidnapping is the taking away of a person against the persons will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment (confinement without legal authority) for ransom or in furtherance of another crime. ... October is the tenth month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar and one of seven Gregorian months with the length of 31 days. ... Conservatism or political conservatism is any of several historically related political philosophies or political ideologies. ...


U.S. President Martin Van Buren, who did not have strong opinions on the slavery question but was concerned about relations with Spain and about his re-election prospects in the southern states, sided with the Spanish position; he ordered a U.S. schooner to New Haven harbor to return the Africans to Cuba immediately after a favorable decision, before any appeals could be decided. Martin Van Buren (December 5, 1782 – July 24, 1862), nicknamed Old Kinderhook, was the eighth President of the United States. ... Two-masted fishing schooner A schooner is a type of sailing ship characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts. ... This article is about the city in Connecticut. ...


The District Court however agreed with the abolitionists, ordered that the Amistad be given to Spain and the Africans be returned to their homeland by the U.S. government. (The federal government had outlawed the slave trade between the U.S. and other countries in 1808, and a law from 1818, amended in 1819, provided for the return of all illegally traded slaves.) The captain's slave was declared the rightful property of the captain's heirs and was ordered restored to Cuba (he escaped to Canada). 1808 was a leap year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... 1818 is a common year starting on Thursday. ... 1819 was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ...


The United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, on order of Van Buren, immediately appealed to the Circuit Court. This court upheld the decision in April 1840 but nevertheless forwarded the case to the U.S. Supreme Court for a final decision because of its international importance. United States Attorneys represent the U.S. federal government in United States district court. ... The United States District Court for the District of Connecticut is the Federal district court whose jurisdiction is comprised of the state of Connecticut. ... The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court Building, Washington, D.C., (large image) The Supreme Court of the United States, located in Washington, D.C., is the highest court (see supreme court) in the United States; that is, it has ultimate judicial authority within the United States...


John Quincy Adams, congressman from Massachusetts and former President of the United States, agreed to argue the case on behalf of the Africans before the high court. The Supreme Court ruled in The Amistad, 40 U.S. 518 (1841), that the Africans had been kidnapped from their homeland and had therefore (even under Spanish law) never been lawful slaves and the legal property of Ruiz and Montez, that (therefore) article 9 of the Pinckney treaty did not apply to them, and that they were free and had the right to defend that freedom through violent insurrection. The U.S. law from 1818 did not apply to them either since they had not been brought to the U.S. in order to be sold, and the federal government was thus not obliged to pay for their return to Africa. The one dissenting judge also essentially agreed with these findings. John Quincy Adams (July 11, 1767 – February 23, 1848) was the sixth (1825-1829) President of the United States. ... A Congressman or Congresswoman (generically, Congressperson) is a politician who is a member of a Congress. ... Jump to: navigation, search State nickname: Bay State Other U.S. States Capital Boston Largest city Boston Governor Mitt Romney (R) Senators Edward Kennedy (D) John Kerry (D) Official languages English Area 27,360 km² (44th)  - Land 20,317 km²  - Water 7,043 km² (25. ... Jump to: navigation, search The President of the United States (often abbreviated POTUS) is the head of state of the United States. ... Court citation is a standard system used in common law countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia to uniquely identify the location of past court cases in special series of books called reporters. ... 1841 is a common year starting on Friday (link will take you to calendar). ...


After the trial

The Amistad committee continued to instruct the Africans in English and Christianity and collected donations to pay for their return. Along with several missionaries, the surviving 36 Africans travelled back to Africa early in 1842, and a mission was erected in Mendiland. The Amistad committee later evolved into the American Missionary Association, an evangelical organization which continued to support the Mendi mission, argued for abolitionism, and eventually established many schools for freed slaves in the U.S. Jump to: navigation, search Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament writings of his early followers. ... Jump to: navigation, search Mendiland is the extreme southwest portion of Sierra Leone on the western coast of Africa, where the Mende tribe lives and the Mende language is spoken. ...


In the following years, the Spanish government continued to press for compensation, and several lawmakers from southern states introduced resolutions into Congress to pay. These efforts were supported by presidents James K. Polk and James Buchanan, but they all failed. A congress is a gathering of people, especially a gathering for a political purpose. ... Jump to: navigation, search James Knox Polk (November 2, 1795 – June 15, 1849) was the eleventh President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1845 to March 4, 1849. ... Jump to: navigation, search James Buchanan (April 23, 1791 – June 1, 1868) was the 15th President of the United States (1857-1861). ...


Cinqué, once returned to Africa, is often said to have set himself up as a slave trader. No surviving documentation supports this claim and opinion among reputable historians seems to range from 'not proven' to 'presumed innocent'. What little evidence we have are oral accounts from Africa and a claim by William A. Owens to have seen letters, written by AMA missionaries, suggesting that Cinqué was a slave trader. Oral history is an account of something passed down by word of mouth from one generation to another. ...


The United States faced an incident similar to the Amistad case in the Creole case of 1841. The Creole case was an incident in American history concerning the coastwise slave trade, which flourished for a half century or longer. ...


Legacy

A simplified version of the events described here was made into a movie called Amistad in 1997. It was directed by Steven Spielberg and starred Anthony Hopkins as John Quincy Adams, Djimon Hounsou as the Africans' leader Cinqué and Matthew McConaughey as their lawyer. This film described some of the terrible things that allegedly happened to some of the slaves on the ship, such as group drownings (by tying a number of slaves with one rope and making them fall to the sea) and death by hunger. Amistad (Spanish for friendship) is a 1997 Steven Spielberg movie based on a slave mutiny that took place aboard a ship of the same name in 1839. ... 1997 is a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Jump to: navigation, search Steven Spielberg Steven Allan Spielberg KBE (born on December 18, 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio but raised in the suburbs of Haddonfield, New Jersey and Scottsdale, Arizona) is an Oscar winning Jewish American film director and producer whose films range from science fiction to historical drama to... Anthony Hopkins A separate article is about composer Antony Hopkins. ... Djimon Gaston Hounsou (born April 24, 1964) is an African actor, dancer and fashion model, born in the West African country of Benin. ... Matthew David McConaughey (born November 4, 1969) is an American actor. ... For information on the type of fish called Lawyer, see the article on Burbot. ...


There is a statue of Cinqué beside the New Haven, Connecticut City Hall. City nickname: The Elm City Location in the state of Connecticut Founded April 24, 1638 County New Haven County Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. ...


In March 2000 a replica of the Amistad was launched from Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut. Its mission is to educate the public on the history of slavery, discrimination and civil rights. The vessel is currently homeported in New Haven, Connecticut, where the Amistad Trial occurred, but travels to port cities for educational opportunities. The official name of the vessel is the Freedom Schooner Amistad. Jump to: navigation, search This article is about the year 2000. ... A Ship replica is a reconstruction of a no longer existing ship. ... Mystic Seaport is a maritime museum in Mystic, Connecticut. ... A coffeeshop along Main Street in Mystic Mystic is a census-designated place located in New London County, Connecticut. ... Jump to: navigation, search The Buxton Memorial Fountain, celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, London. ... Civil rights or positive rights are those legal rights retained by citizens and protected by the government. ... City nickname: The Elm City Location in the state of Connecticut Founded April 24, 1638 County New Haven County Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. ...

Wikisource
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Amistad (ship)

Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wikisource, The Free Library, is a Wikimedia project to build a free wiki library of primary source texts, along with translations of source-texts into any language and other supporting materials. ...

External links

  • "The Amistad Case and Its Consequences in U.S. History" by Clifton Johnson
  • 40 U.S. 518 (1841) -- Opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court
  • "The Amistad Case" -- Smithsonian
  • The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition
  • James Covey
  • A chronology of the trials

 
 

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