Amistad Incident - Preface

Amistad Incident (Illustration) Slaves and Slave Owners American History African American History Film Law and Politics Nineteenth Century Life Trials

1839 painting depicting the two-masted sailing schooner La Amistad off the coast of Culloden Point, Long Island, New York. Image online, courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Public Domain.


I will call into the past -
Far back to the beginning of time -
And beg them
To come and help me

I will reach back
And draw them into me
And they
MUST come

For at this moment
I am
The whole reason
They have existed at all

So says Sengbe Pieh (a 26-year-old illegally-captured Mendi from the country of Sierra Leone) to John Quincy Adams (his attorney), in Steven Spielberg’s film version of the Amistad Incident.

The actual case, argued by Adams in the Supreme Court, helped push the United States to the brink of Civil War. At issue was whether Sengbe (also known as Joseph Cinque) and his fellow captives had the right to be free men (and return to their own country) or whether they could be sold (as property) to plantation owners or slave traders. 

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Nov 09, 2016

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