Amistad Conflict Essay Research Paper The Amistad — страница 2

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Justice Joseph Story wrote and read the decision of the Supreme Court. The Court ruled that the Africans on board the Amistad were free individuals. Kidnapped and transported illegally, they had never been slaves. Although Justice Story had written earlier that “?it was the ultimate right of all human beings in extreme cases to resist oppression, and to apply force against ruinous injustice,” the opinion in this case more narrowly asserted the Africans right to resist “unlawful” slavery. The Court ordered the immediate release of the Amistad African. Following its decision, the Supreme Court submitted its statement to the lower court where the case originated. The statement indicated that the decision of the circuit court was in part upheld and in part reversed. The part

that was upheld related to the freedom of the Africans. The part that was reversed related to Judge Andrew T. Judson’s application of the Congressional Act of March 3, 1819. Judson’s decision authorized the President to return the Africans to Africa. Ultimately, the abolitionists arrange for their return in early 1842. The case sparked many disputes. The United States was already torn, divided in into two parts, the North and the South. The North promoted abolitionism and emancipation, while the South endorsed slavery particularly because of its agrarian economy. The South needed the labor of the slaves for production. During the American colonial period, slavery was legal and practiced in all the commercial nations of Europe. The practice of trading in and using African

slaves was introduced to the United States by the colonial powers, and when the American colonies received their common law from the United Kingdom, the legality of slavery was part of that law. Trade in slaves was abolished shortly after the formation of the United States, by act of Congress. Many states took steps to abolish slavery within their borders even before the formation of the federal government, and several states even routinely emancipated slaves who came within their borders. At the time of the Amistad case, then, slave trade was illegal throughout the United States, but the legality of slave ownership varied from state to state. In New York and Connecticut, the primary states involved in the Amistad case, slavery was illegal. Another issue at hand was salvage. Who

lawfully had the right to claim the property of the ship? Salvage is the reward given to persons who voluntarily assist a ship or recover its cargo from impending or actual peril or loss. To make a valid claim of salvage, a claimant must prove: the event involved a ship and its cargo, or things committed to and lost at sea or other public, navigable waterways; the ship or its cargo have been found or rescued; the service performed by claimant must have been of benefit to the property involved in the rescue. A salvor (one who salvages) must have the intent and capacity of committing a salvage, but does not need have the intention of keeping the property. The salvor need not have even given physical assistance to the rescue of the ship or property. Various types of “peril” are

allowed. The most common cases involve abandoned ships or ships in danger of sinking. However, as argued by claimants in the Amistad case, the death or disability of the crew, or the seizing of the ship by pirates, can also support a claim for salvage. Typically, a salvage must occur on the seas. As such, the salvage claim by Green and Fordham is peculiar, in that it involved activity committed entirely inland. This leads to the most important point of all. Does the salvaged property include the Africans? In other words, should the Africans be considered slaves and therefore someone’s property? In the following quotation from the Supreme Court decision, Justice Story explains why it is not within his jurisdiction to decide whether or not it is moral or ethical to keep people

are property. He insists that in the eyes of the law, it is his duty to merely judge whether or not the “act has been done, and whether it is an act within the scope of authority.” (, 14. It is not denied, that under the laws of Spain, negroes may be held as slaves, as completely as they are in any of the states of this Union; nor will it be denied, if duly proved such, they are subject to restoration, as much as other property, when coming under the provisions of this treaty. Now, these negroes are declared, by the certificates of the governor-general, to be slaves, and the property of the Spanish subjects therein named. That officer is the highest functionary of the government in Cuba; his public