The Amistad Slave Revolt and American Abolitionby Karen Zeinert
Traces the 1839 revolt of Africans aboard the slave ship Amistad, their apprehension, and long trial which ended in their acquittal by the Supreme Court.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 5 UpIn 1839, a group of slaves being transported from Cuba mutinied, killing the Amistad's captain and seizing the ship. They ordered the remaining crew to take them back to Africa, but were instead captured off the coast of Long Island. Hoping to make a quick profit, the captors sued for custody of the ship and its cargo, but instead became involved in an important legal battle over the slave trade. When the case finally reached the Supreme Court in 1841, the defendants' cause had been adopted and well publicized by abolitionists, who called on John Quincy Adams to aid in the defense. His brilliant and impassionate argumentfueled by his dislike of President Martin Van Burencompelled the Justices to free the slaves, and the 35 survivors returned to Africa on funds raised by missionaries and abolitionists. It is a compelling story, a fact recognized by Steven Spielberg, who is currently directing a big-screen adaptation of it. However, by trying to place the episode within the context of the abolitionist movement, Zeinert loses the drama in the historical detail. The rebels themselves are treated impersonally; one never gets a sense of the reported charisma of the leader, Cinque. Still, with many books on the topic out of print, libraries may want to add this volume in anticipation of the big demand that the film will surely generate.Elizabeth M. Reardon, McCallie School, Chattanooga, TN
Kirkus ReviewsZeinert takes on the improbable story of how 53 Africans from Sierra Leone were captured, sold into slavery, and while en route to Cuba on the Spanish ship Amistad, revolted and ended up in Connecticut. The Africans spoke no English; slavery was widespread in the US; still, the abolitionists took up the cause and carried the case all the way to the Supreme Court. The Africans were eventually freed and returned home. Zeinert (The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, 1993, etc.) offers an exciting account of the injustice done to these men, women, and children, beginning with the capture of Cinque, 25, in 1839, because "he had been unable to pay off a debt on time." The author dwells not only on Cinque's bravery, but on the many incidents on board the Amistad that made a mutiny possible, the events that brought them to Connecticut, John Quincy Adams's extraordinary legal arguments, and on the Supreme Court's ruling that "all human beings have a right to fight for their freedom." Readers will come away with an understanding of just how important a victory the Amistad affair was for American abolitionists. This book also provides a window on a rare group of "slaves," those who actually saw their homeland again.
- Shoe String Press, Incorporated
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.19(w) x 8.78(h) x 0.61(d)
- Age Range:
- 11 Years
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