United States v. Amistad: Slave Ship Mutiny

United States v. Amistad: Slave Ship Mutiny

United States v. Amistad: Slave Ship Mutiny

United States v. Amistad: Slave Ship Mutiny

Synopsis

The impact and ramifications of cases argued before the Supreme Court are felt for decades, if not centuries. Only the most important issues of the day and the land make it to the nine justices, and the effects of their decisions reach far beyond the litigants. Under discussion here are five of the most momentous Supreme Court cases ever. They include Marbury v. Madison, Roe v. Wade, Dred Scott, Brown v. Board of Education, and The Pentagon Papers. An absorbing exploration of enormously controversial events, the series details, highlights, and clarifies the complex legal arguments of both sides. Placing the cases within their historical context (though they ultimately emerge as works in progress), the authors reveal each decision's relevance both to the past and the present. the result is a fascinating glimpse across the centuries into the workings of the Supreme Court and the American judicial system.

Excerpt

In 1841, two decades before America's Civil War, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that blacks illegally enslaved by white traders had the right to be free. the decision itself was a narrow one, targeting the slave trade rather than slavery. Nevertheless, the case, United States v. Amistad, focused attention on the issue of slavery just as politicians were trying to avoid discussing the divisive topic. Although the United States had banned the importation of slaves in 1808 and many other nations had followed suit by i8?o, the lucrative trade continued unabated. Slavery itself was embedded in the nation's economy and had been part of American life for more than two centuries. Southern planters depended on slaves to harvest cotton, the nation's largest export. Even though many Americans considered slavery morally wrong, they feared that banning it would disrupt U.S. prosperity and trigger violent opposition in the South. Politicians did not want to alienate Southern voters by taking a stand against slavery. Abolitionists who dared to speak out on the subject were attacked, ridiculed, and shunned.

The Amistad case—one of the first [civil rights] suits to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court—revolved around a group of Africans captured by slave traders and transported to Cuba and then the United States. After the ship sailed from Havana, the Africans revolted, killed the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.