Amistad Trial

Topics: Supreme Court of the United States, La Amistad, United States Declaration of Independence Pages: 5 (1443 words) Published: April 14, 2009
Jeany Sulpha
Eng 101 CW 1
Gail Lighthipe
06 April 2009

The Amistad Trial

The Amistad Trial, also known as United States v. Libellants and Claimants of the Schooner Amistad, was a United States Supreme Court case resulting from the rebellion of slaves on board the Spanish schooner Amistad in 1839 (Jones). The Amistad Case is part of The Freedom Trial consisting of four cities Farmington, Mystic, New Haven, and Hartford. In 1839, fifty-three Mendi Africans who were bound for slavery in Cuba aboard the ship Amistad took over the vessel under the leadership of Joseph Cinque (Jones). Before the Amistad slaves, slaves were legally recognized as property of Connecticut until 1848. It had been illegal to import slaves in the United States since 1808. The Amistad Case was argued in the Supreme Court in The United States from February 22nd until March 2, 1841(Jones). The first Amistad trial was concerned with charges of murder, mutiny, and piracy of the Africans aboard the Amistad (Jones). The first trial was no surprises. The court ruled they had no jurisdiction, because the claims happened in Spanish waters (Owens) The second Amistad trial was the civil case that was tried before District Judge Andrew Judson (Linder). According to Wikipedia, The abolitionists filed charges of assault, kidnapping, and false imprisonment against Ruiz and Montez. The trial began on November 19, 1839 in Hartford. The ruling states;

In detail, the District Court ruled as follows:
*It rejected the claim of the U.S. Attorney, argued on behalf of the Spanish minister, for the restoration of the slaves. * It dismissed the claims of Ruiz and Montez. * It ordered that the captives be delivered to the custody of the President of the U.S for transportation to Africa, since they were, legally frees.

I felt that the trail was not just because the two Spanish individuals kept several Africans aboard a boat against their own will because of a fraudulent purchase. They held the Amistands as captives knowing they were already free. These Amistad’s were dehumanized and brutalized thinking they had to give such respect for individuals who wanted them to face great danger. Two of the surviving crew members Ruiz and Montez kept the slaves captives against their own free will. They made a fraudulent purchase of the Amistands. The Amistands were in the land of their nativity. They were unlawfully kidnapped and forcibly and wrongfully held by Ruiz and Montez. They were on the boat unlawfully and practically engaged in the slave trade between the coast of Africa and the island of Cuba (Linder). They suffered circumstances of great cruelty, transported to the island of Cuba for the unlawful purpose of being sold as slaves, and were there illegally landed for that purpose. Jose Ruiz, one of the libellants, unlawfully taken and held the Amistands as slaves, and intending to deprive the respondents severally of their liberty, made a fraudulent purchase and Pedro Montez was part of the fraudulent purchase. After testimony was taken on November 20, the trial adjourned until January 7, 1840.  On January 13, 1840, Judge Judson announced his decision. All charges were thrown out of court.

In turn, these two Spaniards made the Amistands unlawfully work against unusual circumstances.The July 2, 1839 revolt began when the ship’s cook, Celestino, made a poor attempt at a bad joke (Owens). Trying to convince Cinque and others they would be killed and eaten when the ship reached port, Celestino sealed his own fate(Owens).Cinque found a nail, which he used to unlock his companions chains. Free of their shackles, Cinque and Grabeau - a fellow captive - searched for weapons. They found sugar cane knives: blades, two-feet long, attached to steel handles( Owens). Using these weapons, the Africans killed Captain Ferrer and Celestino....

Cited: Jones, Howard. ”Mutiny on the Amistad”. New York: Oxford,1987
Owens, William A. “ Black Mutiny”. Philadelphia: United Church Press, 1968
Linder, Douglas O. “Amistad Trials 1839-1840
Wikipedia- the free encyclopedia.” Amistad” 1841
The U.S. National Archives & Records Administration.” The Declaration of
Independence”. 1776
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