The Amistad Case


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. Fifty-three Africans were purchased by two Spanish planters and put aboard the Cuban schooner Amistad for shipment to a Caribbean plantation. On July 1, 1839, the Africans seized the ship, killed the captain and the cook, and ordered the planters to sail to Africa. On August 24, 1839, the Amistad was seized off Long Island, NY, by the U.S. brig Washington. The planters were freed and the Africans were imprisoned in New Haven, CT, on charges of murder.


Amistad Unit




Resources


The Amistad Case

Students should analyze the Amistad case, using primary materials to examine the manner in which the enslaved Africans were portrayed by both sides in attempt to curry popular favor.

Teaching With Documents:The Amistad Case

National Archives