Tuesday, October 14, 1997 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | NEXT: Prairie Island
1997-10-14

Mutiny On the Amistad–Human Rights Vs. Private Property

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Throughout the two hundred year history of racial slavery in the United States, rarely did rebellious slaves succeed in immediately winning their freedom. There is, however, one recorded case where West Africans, seized by slave dealers, won their freedom and successfully returned home.

Led by Joseph Cinque, fifty-three captives of the Amistad slave ship revolted in the Caribbean in 1839. But the ship of rebellious slaves was eventually captured by American forces, and the Africans were subsequently arrested and brought to Connecticut. The resulting mutiny trial made its way to throughthe Federal courts right up to the US Supreme Court where the issue of human rights versus private property was fought out. Former President John Quincy Adams came out of retirement to defend the Africans against Federal prosecutors.

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  • Howard Jones, a professor of history at the University of Alabama and the author of the book ??Mutiny on the Amistad.

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