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On June 28, 1839, the Spanish slave schooner Amistad set sail from Havana on a routine delivery of human cargo. On a moonless night, after four days at sea, the captive Africans rose up, killed the captain, and seized control of the ship. They attempted to sail to a safe port, but were captured by the U.S. Navy and thrown into jail in Connecticut. Their legal battle for freedom eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, where their cause was argued by former president John Quincy Adams. In a landmark ruling, ...
On June 28, 1839, the Spanish slave schooner Amistad set sail from Havana on a routine delivery of human cargo. On a moonless night, after four days at sea, the captive Africans rose up, killed the captain, and seized control of the ship. They attempted to sail to a safe port, but were captured by the U.S. Navy and thrown into jail in Connecticut. Their legal battle for freedom eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, where their cause was argued by former president John Quincy Adams. In a landmark ruling, they were freed and eventually returned to Africa. The rebellion became one of the best-known events in the history of American slavery, celebrated as a triumph of the legal system in films and books, all reflecting the elite perspective of the judges, politicians, and abolitionists involved in the case. In this powerful and highly original account, Marcus Rediker reclaims the rebellion for its true proponents: the African rebels who risked death to stake a claim for freedom.
Using newly discovered evidence, Rediker reframes the story to show how a small group of courageous men fought and won an epic battle against Spanish and American slaveholders and their governments. He reaches back to Africa to find the rebels’ roots, narrates their cataclysmic transatlantic journey, and unfolds a prison story of great drama and emotion. Featuring vividly drawn portraits of the Africans, their captors, and their abolitionist allies, he shows how the rebels captured the popular imagination and helped to inspire and build a movement that was part of a grand global struggle between slavery and freedom. The actions aboard the Amistad that July night and in the days and months that followed were pivotal events in American and Atlantic history, but not for the reasons we have always thought.
The successful Amistad rebellion changed the very nature of the struggle against slavery. As a handful of self-emancipated Africans steered their own course to freedom, they opened a way for millions to follow. This stunning book honors their achievement.
“The great strength of this work—aside from rediker’s vivd style as a writer and meticulous research—is that he brings the Amistad Africans back to center stage where they have often been pushed to the side.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Vividly drawn…this stunning book honors the achievement of the captive Africans who fought for—and won—their freedom.”—The Philadelphia Tribune
“Spectacularly researched and fluidly composed, this latest study offers some much needed perspective on a critical yet often overlooked event in America’s history.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A totally enthralling account of the Amistad rebellion and its place in the broader American story of revolt against a great threat to liberty."--Booklist (starred review)
"A first-rate example of history told from the bottom up."—Kirkus (starred review)
"Rediker takes a fresh approach to the Amistad rebellion by focusing on the Africans who revolted rather than on the American political and judicial response, which takes the central place in most previous works."—Library Journal
Introduction Voices 1
1 Origins 13
2 Rebellion 64
3 Movement 96
4 Jail 122
5 "Mendi" 152
6 Freedom 184
Conclusion Reverberations 224
Illustration Sources and Credits 287
Posted November 21, 2012
This new history of the Amistad uprising shines in particular with its focus on the lives of the rebellion's leaders. The historical and cultural context of the captives' African homelands and cultures is explored in detail, as are the personalities and motivations of the Amistad rebels.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.