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Teaching With Documents:The Amistad Case

Opinion of the Supreme Court in United States v. The Amistad, March 9, 1841

Senior 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 Africans.

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Supreme Court Opinion, US v. The Amistad
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National Archives and
Records Administration,
Records of the Supreme Court
of the United States, RG 267
National Archives Identifier: 301672


The Amistad Case Main Page

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