In April of 1839, a group of militant Portuguese abducted a group of 53 Africans, and shipped them to Havana, Cuba. In June of 1839, the Africans were purchased as slaves by four Spaniards and put on the schooner La Amistad (Spanish for “the friendship”) for a voyage to Principe, an island republic, off the west coast of Africa, in the Gulf of Guinea. During this voyage, in the summer of 1839, the Africans performed mutiny on the ship,
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not property. The Circuit Court upheld the District Court decision. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, where Adams argued the defendants’ case. The Supreme Court upheld nearly all of the Circuit Court’s opinion stating the Africans were free men and women, illegally taken from Africa, were never citizens of Spain and were not guilty of the murders of the crewmen during the mutiny.
Pate, Alexs D. Amistad New York: NAL/Dutton, 1997