Thursday, February 5, 2015

Amistad Mutiny...

Both TruthQuest and Beautiful Feet suggest reading a book about the Amistad mutiny in 1839.  La Amistad was a Spanish Schooner carrying African slaves (Mende) abducted from Sierra Leone.  They were to be sold in Cuba, a practice that was illegal at that time.

During the voyage, the slaves rose up and killed most of the crew.  They let the ship's owners live in hopes of returning home.  The slaves ordered the ship turn toward Africa, but the Spaniards tricked them sailing up the Atlantic coast.

After weeks of sailing, the Amistad was escorted by an American ship into the harbor of New London, Connecticut.  Forced ashore from hunger, weariness, and disorientation, the Mende found themselves in a battle for freedom.  They were imprisoned and bound to stand trial.  On January 13, 1840, a judge set them free.

Unfortunately, President Van Buren, became concerned that setting the Mende slaves free would enrage southern slave holders.  As a result, he ordered an appeal so the case must be tried in the U.S. Supreme Court.  Having heard about the mutineers, former President John Quincy Adams came out of retirement to defend the Mende's case.  On March 9, 1841, a week after Adams made his closing arguments, the Supreme Court announced that the Mende slaves were in fact free. It took eight months for abolitionists to raise money to send the Mende back to West Africa. 

Amistad, The Slave Uprising Aboard the Spanish Schooner by Helen Kromer is recommended by Beautiful Feet.  However, it proved to be a little advanced for Ruben, so we opted to read Amistad Rising, A Story of Freedom by Veronica Chambers.  The later is a beautiful picture book recommended in the TruthQuest History guide.

The following is Ruben's narration after reading Amistad Rising...

By Ruben
January 2015

Amistad was a Spanish slave ship.  The slaves took over the ship and ordered the captain to turn back to Africa, but in the night the captain turned back toward America and they got further and further away from Africa.  They finally landed in New England.  The slaves demanded their freedom, but had to go to court.  John Quincy Adams took sides with the slaves.  The slaves won their case and went back to Africa.  They could never be taken as slaves again. 

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