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The Amistad. Film: 1997 Background: Atlantic Slave Trade The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the transatlantic slave trade, was the trade of African.

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Presentation on theme: "The Amistad. Film: 1997 Background: Atlantic Slave Trade The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the transatlantic slave trade, was the trade of African."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Amistad

2 Film: 1997

3 Background: Atlantic Slave Trade The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the transatlantic slave trade, was the trade of African people supplied to the colonies of the New World that occurred in and around the Atlantic Ocean. It lasted from the 15th century to the 19th century.

4 Atlantic Slave Trade Most slaves were shipped from West Africa and Central Africa and taken to the New World. Generally slaves were obtained through coastal trading with Africans, though some were captured by European slave traders through raids and kidnapping.

5 Dimensions of the Slave Trade Some 15 million Africans taken to the New World

6 New World Destinations Brazil: 4,000, % Spanish Empire: 2,500, % British West Indies: 2,000, % French West Indies: 1,600, % British North America: 500, % Dutch West Indies: 500, % Danish West Indies: 28, % Europe: 200, %

7 US Outlaws the International slave trade United States Constitution put a 20 year limit on the international slave trade.

8 Britain Outlaws the Slave Trade The Slave Trade Act was passed by the British Parliament on 25 March 1807, making the slave trade illegal throughout the British Empire.

9 Portugal Abolishes Slave Trade 1836 Portugal abolishes transatlantic slave trade

10 The Amistad La Amistad (Spanish: "Friendship") was a 19th-century two- masted schooner built in the United States but owned by a Spaniard living in Cuba.

11 Amistad Mutiny On July 2, 1839, Sengbe Pieh [Joseph Cinque] led 53 fellow Africans (49 adults and 4 children), the captives being transported aboard La Amistad from Havana, in a revolt against their captors.

12 Cinque leads the mutiny Cinqué saves two of the ship's officers, Jose Luis and Pedro Montez, who he believes can sail them back to Africa.

13 Mendeland in West Africa The Mende are one of the two largest ethnic groups in Sierra Leone, along with the Temne. They make 30% of Sierra Leone's total population. The Mende are mostly farmers and hunters.

14 Arrested in Connecticut Captured by the American Navy, the Amistad Africans are taken to a municipal jail in New Haven, Connecticut, where the ship's occupants, and a tearful Cinqué, are thrown into a grim dungeon, awaiting trial.

15 Adams and the Abolitionists While strolling in the gardens, Adams is introduced to two of the country's leading abolitionists; the elderly freed slave Theodore Joadson (Morgan Freeman) and Christian activist Lewis Tappan.

16 Abolitionists: Joadson and Tappan

17 Lewis Tappan He founded the Amistad Committee to defend the Africans The Amistad Committee becomes the American Missionary Society, one of America’s strongest anti-slavery society.

18 Adams Says no to the Abolitionists Adams, apparently verging on senility, refuses to help, claiming that he neither condemns nor condones slavery.

19 President Martin Van Buren News of the Amistad incident also reaches the current President of the United States, Martin Van Buren, who is bombarded with demands for compensation from the juvenile Spanish Head of State, Queen Isabella II of Spain.

20 Who owns the Amistad Africans? At a preliminary hearing in a district court, the Africans are charged with "insurrection on the high seas", and the case rapidly dissolves into conflicting claims of property ownership from the Kingdom of Spain, the United States, the surviving officers of La Amistad, and the officers of the naval vessel responsible for re- capturing the slave-ship.

21 Attorney Roger Baldwin Aware that they cannot fight the case on moral grounds, the two abolitionists enlist the help of a young attorney specializing in property law; Roger Sherman Baldwin

22 President Van Buren and Amistad Africans? Question: What is President Van Buren’s interest in the Amistad case? Answer: He does not care about the Spanish claim to own the Africans. However, he is worried that if the Africans are freed it will offend the slave-holding South and increase sectional tension between North and South.

23 Advice from John Q. Adams? Question: What advice does John Q. Adams give to black abolitionist Theodore Joadsen? Answer: Find out the “story” of the Amistad Africans. That means learn the narrative of the tragedy of the Africans as victims of the slave trade. They need to find an interpreter who speaks Mende.

24 Who is interpreter? Question: Who do Baldwin and Joadsen find on the New York, docks to do their interpretation? Answer: James Covey. A former slave who is a member of the British Royal Navy.

25 Interpreter: James Covey As the hearings drag on, Baldwin and Joadson regularly walk round the docks, counting numbers in the Mende language, in an attempt to recruit an interpreter. They eventually happen upon a black sailor in the Royal Navy, James Covey.

26 Cinque’s Story? Question: What does Cinque say about his capture in Africa? Answer: He describes how his normal family life in his African village was suddenly ended when he was captured by slave raiders?

27 Captured in Africa Sengbe Pieh, the man who would become known as "Cinque," was "stolen” and sold into slavery while "walking in the road" near his village along the Gallinas River in northwest Africa in 1839.

28 Cinque’s Story Question: Where was Cinque taken after he was captured by the slave- hunters? Answer: He was taken to the slave fortress of Lomboko, an illegal facility in the British Protectorate of Sierra Leone.

29 Lomboko slave fort

30 The Middle Passage Question: What horrors does Cinque tell of the Middle Passage? Answer: Cinqué tells of the various horrors of the Middle Passage, including frequent rape, horrific torture, and random executions carried out by the crew, including the deaths of fifty people deliberately drowned in order to save food.

31 Horrors of the Middle Passage Murders Whippings Rape Starvation Disease Suicide Insanity

32 Triangular Trade

33 Cinque in Cuba? Question: What happened to Cinque in Cuba? Answer: Upon their arrival in Cuba, Cinqué was sold at a slave market and purchased, along with many other Tecora survivors, by the owners of La Amistad.

34 The Tecora: Portuguese slave ship

35 The Tecora Manifest? Question: What relevance does the Tecora manifest [list of Africans on the Portuguese ship the Tecora] have? Answer: It documents that the Portuguese illegally captured the Africans and sold them into slavery in Cuba. Therefore, the Amistad Africans are not legally slaves.

36 Captain Fitzgerald Testimony Using the Tecora Manifest as hard evidence of illegal trading, Baldwin calls expert witnesses including Captain Fitzgerald, a British naval commander assigned to patrol the West Africa coastline to enforce the British Empire's anti- slavery policies.

37 Give Us Our Freedom! As Fitzgerald is cross- examined by the haughty prosecutor, tension in the courtroom rises, ultimately prompting Cinqué to leap from his seat and cry "Give us us free" over and over, a heartfelt plea using the English he has learned.

38 The Judge’s Decision Judge Coglin dismisses all claims of ownership, rules that the Africans were captured illegally and not born on plantations, orders the arrest of the Amistad's remaining crew on charges of slave-trading, and authorizes the United States to convey the Amistad Africans back to Africa at the expense of the nation.

39 Calhoun and Van Buren Senator John C. Calhoun launches into a damning diatribe aimed at President Van Buren, emphasizing the economic importance of slaves in the South.

40 Adams and Supreme Court At the Supreme Court, John Quincy Adams gives a long and passionate speech in defense of the Africans. Arguing that if Cinqué was white and had rebelled against the British, the United States would have exalted him as a hero.

41 Supreme Court Decision Believing that the Amistad Africans were illegally kidnapped from their homes in Africa, United States laws on slave ownership do not apply. Furthermore, since that was the case, the Amistad Africans were within their rights to use force to escape their confinement. The Supreme Court authorizes the release of the Africans and their conveyance back to Africa.

42 Cinque Returns to Africa in 1842

43 The Amistad Legacy In March 2000, a replica of the Amistad was launched from a Connecticut seaport with the mission to educate the public on the history of slavery.


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