United States v. Amistad


Issued on March 9, 1841, the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in the United States v. Amistad was the most significant one issued by the Court on the question of slavery before the Dred Scott decision of 1857. The case arose from the seizure of the schooner La Amistad, its passengers, and cargo in 1839 by a U.S. naval vessel. Among the passengers were fifty-three Africans, a slave named Antonio owned by the captain, and two Spaniards. The Spaniards claimed that the Africans were their slaves, but the Africans asserted they were free. For the next two years, American abolitionists...

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Portrait of Joseph Cinque (Library of Congress)

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