February, Slave Mutiny aboard La Amistad, Abolitionists and the US Supreme Court

Belle Montgomery

Sergeant Major
Oct 25, 2017
In February 1839, slave hunters abducted a group of Africans from Sierra Leone and shipped them to Havana, Cuba to be sold as slaves. Their kidnappings violated all treaties then in existence. When they arrived in Cuba, two Spanish plantation owners, Pedro Montes and Jose Ruiz, purchased 53 slaves to work their Caribbean plantation. They loaded the slaves aboard the Cuban schooner Amistad. On July 1, while sailing through the Caribbean, the captured slaves organized a mutiny. One of the slaves, Sengbe Pieh (also known as Joseph Cinque), freed himself and loosed others. They killed the captain and the ship’s cook, seized the ship, and ordered Montes and Ruiz to sail to Africa.

Under the guise of heading towards Africa, Montes and Ruiz sailed the ship north instead. The Amistad zigzagged up the east coast for nearly two months. On August 26, 1839, it dropped
anchor off the tip of Long Island and a few of the men went ashore for fresh water.
Rest Of Article: https://blog.fold3.com/february-1839-the-amistad-rebellion/
FYI- There is also a 1997 Steven Spielberg movie "Amistad" about it

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First Sergeant
Official Vendor
Jul 26, 2018
One of the interesting aspects of the Supreme Court case was the clash between Presidents.

President Martin Van Buren supported Spain’s claim that the ship and its human cargo should be given to Spain.

After two district courts ruled in favor of the abolitionists, President Van Buren immediately instructed the U.S. attorney general to appeal. Abolitionists hired John Quincy Adams so a former President opposed the current President. Adams labeled Van Buren’s behavior as an abuse of executive power. He opposed the U.S. attorney’s argument that the treaty with Spain should override U.S. principles of individual rights. In appeasing a foreign nation, Adams argued that the president committed the “utter injustice [of interfering] in a suit between parties for their individual rights.” Pointing to a copy of the Declaration of Independence hanging on the courtroom wall, Adams said “[I know] no law, statute or constitution, no code, no treaty, except that law…which [is] forever before the eyes of your Honors.”
Adams’ skillful arguments convinced the court to rule in favor of returning the Africans to their native country, but later, President Tyler refused to allocate federal funds to send the Africans back to Africa. Instead, the abolitionists had to raise money to pay for the expense.

From History.Com

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