On this day: in history (1841), the United States Supreme Court ruled on Amistad slave ship mutiny case with only one dissent, that the enslaved Africans who seized control of the Amistad slave ship had been illegally forced into slavery, and thus are free under American law.
In February of 1839, Portuguese slave hunters abducted a large group of Africans from Sierra Leone and shipped them to Havana, Cuba, a center for the slave trade. This abduction violated all of the treaties then in existence. In June 1839, 53 of the enslaved people recently captured in Africa left Havana, Cuba, aboard the Amistad schooner for a life of slavery on a sugar plantation at Puerto Principe, Cuba. Three days later, the Africans seized the ship, killed the captain and the cook, and ordered Montes and Ruiz (the two Cubans who had purchased the enslaved people) to sail to Africa.During the day, Ruiz and Montes complied, but at night they would turn the vessel in a northerly direction, toward U.S. waters. U.S. Navy brig, seized the Amistad off the coast of Long Island and escorted it to New London, Connecticut.The Vessel, its cargo, and all on board were taken to New London, CT. The plantation owners were freed and the Africans were imprisoned on charges of murder.
Although the murder charges were dismissed, the Africans continued to be held in confinement and the case went to trial . The plantation owners, government of Spain, and captain of the Washington each claimed rights to the Africans or compensation.
President of Cuba was in favor of extraditing the Africans to Cuba. However, abolitionists in the North opposed extradition and raised money to defend the Africans. Had it not been for the actions of abolitionists in the United States, the issues related to the Amistad might have ended quietly in an admiralty court. But they used the incident as a way to expose the evils of slavery and generate significant opposition to the practice.
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Created by Okey Obiabunmo