In 1839, Africans being carried from Havana, Cuba, to Puerto Principe, Cuba, revolted against their captors aboard the ship La Amistad (Spanish for 'friendship'). They were stolen from Africa, transported to the Americas, and were “passed off” as having been born in Cuba. After the revolt, the Africans demanded to be returned home, but the ship’s navigator lied to them about their course, and sailed them north along the North American coast to Long Island, New York. The schooner was subsequently taken into custody by the United States Navy. The Africans, who were deemed salvage from the vessel, were taken to Connecticut to be sold as slaves. A widely publicized court case ensued about the ship and the legal status of the African captives. This incident is very important to the anti-slavery movement because it was an important ruling. The fact that the U.S. supreme court ruled that the “Africans were taking illegally and thus not “property” of Cuban slave-traders or of Spain as Queen Isabella II of Spain. The illegal circumstances of their capture and transportation mean they are free” (www.archives.gov) gave a huge boost to the abolitionists and gave legal validity to the anti-slavery movement. Now, slaves had a “legal” leg to stand on. Looking back now, at the Amistad incident, one can deduce that this ruling gave a foothold to the legal side of ending slavery, which happened December 1865 when the 13th Amendment was ratified. My belief is that, had this ruling gone the other way, it would have significantly prolonged the ending of slavery. The Ship
La Amistad was a 19th-century two-masted schooner, measuring 120 feet long by 32 feet wide and displacing 120 tons. Built in the United States, La Amistad was originally named Friendship but she was renamed after being purchased by a Spaniard (www.history.navy.mil). La Amistad was not a slave ship in the sense that she was not designed to transport slaves, nor did she engage in the Middle Passage of...
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