Amistad Incident - Summary

Portuguese slave hunters (called "slavers") illegally wrenched Africans from their homes in February, 1839. Using inhuman devices to control their victims, slavers violated all existing treaties and laws. Slave-trading continued, even though it had been outlawed, because of the high demand for cheap labor in “the new world.”

During the difficult crossing from Africa to Cuba, many of the captives died. Thereafter, fifty-three of them were "purchased" at an auction in Havana and transferred to a ship named La Amistad. Four children were among the Amistad Africans.

Not long after, the captives found themselves in America. Through an amazing set of circumstances, including an appeal to the United States Supreme Court where the Africans were represented by a former American president, they were set free and returned to their home lands.

In this story behind the incident, meet the captives (including their leader, Sengbe Pieh, played by Djimon Hounsou in the Amistad film), their lawyer (Roger Sherman Baldwin, played by Matthew McConaughey), one of their antagonists (Martin Van Buren, the sitting U.S. president), John Quincy Adams (their Supreme Court advocate, played by Anthony Hopkins) and Justice Joseph Story (who wrote the opinion which freed them).

See the court (where the case was argued) and the post-trial home (where the captives lived). Examine the original judgment which set the Amistad captives free even as it pushed America closer to civil war.

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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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"Amistad Incident" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jan 24, 2020.
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