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 US 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.
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.
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 full of drama and emotion.
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.
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