The Amistad Essay Research Paper Property vs

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The Amistad Essay, Research Paper Property vs. Morality The dispute arising over the Amistad can be looked at in two ways; in terms of property or in terms of morality. Property is a simple concept which most people can understand. Property is considered a tangible object that is owned or in possesion of another person. Examples of property include furniture, livestock and at one piont in history human beings. Morality on the other hand is not nearly as simple an idea as property. Morals often depend on an individuals on beliefs or code of ethics but there is a generally accepted code of right and wrong. An example of an accepted wrong is the supression of rights of another induvidual. An accepted right is for that person who is being opressed to do anything in their power to

end that opression. The Amistad controversey took into account both arguments about property and morality. Were the slaves found off the coast of Massachusetts slaves or the property of somone? If so they would be returned to their Spanish owners or those naval officers who had recovered them. If not, came the difficult moral question. Were these Africans considered human and thus born with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? If not they were guilty of killing their Spanish captors and subject to the death penalty. If the Amistad Africans are considered human then they had every right to slay their abductors and deserve to be taken back to their home as soon as possible. The simple answer to the Amistad controversey was to address it in terms of

property but the right way to look at the situation was from a moral viewpiont. And it was looking at it in terms of right and wrong that forced a country to answer the question of slavery that had plagued America from its beginning and would not end with the Amistad. There were many different philosophies on the idea of property especially concerning slavery in the mid 1800 s. Contrasting the Spanish or Portugese and African ideas can show two of these very different schools of thought. In Africa, property was defined totally different then in Europe, Asia and other different places. The societies of the time did not emphasize the induvidual, the greater collective being more important to the sucess of the tribe, hence no private property was recognized. After this power was no

longer based on land like in other modern societies but it was the labor on that land that was important. Land no longer decided the persons standing in a society for after all the more slaves one owned the more crops they could harvest and the better off they would be. In this African society, one linked by trading empires and tribal governments, it was the slave that decided someones worth in society. As the lawyer pionted out to Cinque there were slaves in Africa but their role was different then in the western world. Before the Europeans came to Africa there existed thriving economic and stable political conditions. In the North there were the great Muslim kingdoms like Songhay who built flourishing cities like Timbuktu or Gao. These empires were based on trade and it was the

demand for tribute from those trading that kept them flourishing. It was trade too and the arrival of Europeans that built the Central African kingdoms. The Portugese were among the first to make strong ties with African kings especially with the people of the Kongo. In exchange for manufactured goods and textiles the Portugese demand slaves especially and certian valuable natrual resources. And it was this demand for slaves that began to tear the African Kingdoms apart. The Africans want for Europeans good led to the need for more nad more slaves which started causing warring factions within the Africans. Over time the Portugese began carry their human cargoes to Europe and to their increasing colonies in the new world. It was the Spanish who pioneered the early slave trade with