"Give us Free"
Cinque and his fellow Amistad captives - so called because they were being transported to slavery on the schooner La Amistad when they revolted and took over the ship - were charged with murder and piracy for their actions. In their defense, the captives contended they revolted as free Africans who had been kidnapped and sold into slavery. The trial became a cause celebre for abolitionists and in 1841, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed with the Africans' assertions and ordered them freed. Amistad has been hailed as the first civil rights case to come before the U.S. Supreme Court. It is also the first time that a former president - John Quincy Adams - argued a case before the nation's highest tribunal. Despite its prominence and the Court's surprising ruling, however, the case had little impact in diminishing slavery in the young nation.
Visit our LiveBinder to view lesson plans, classroom resources, and current events related to the issues in this case.