Monday, February 7, 2011

Brief Background on the Amistad case

In 1839, a group of enslaved people aboard La Amistad, which was leaving from Cuba, led a revolt against their captors, demanding that they be returned to their homeland West Africa. The ship’s navigator said north instead, and the ship and travelers were eventually stopped by a U.S. vessel in New York. The group of “rebels” were sent to New Haven, Connecticut, to await legal decisions on who, exactly, the Africans belonged to and what their fate would be.

Sengbe Pieh, later known as Joseph Cinqué was considered the leader of the group and has become the more known representative. The Africans were primarily Mendi, an ethnic group from Sierra Leone.

The case ended up reaching the US Supreme Court, becoming known as United States v. Libellants and Claimants of the Schooner Amistad, which ordered that the Mendi should be freed and returned to West Africa in 1842.


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