Published On: Thu, Feb 24th, 2011

John Quincy Adams delivers the Amistad speech freeing African Slaves

Among the early Americans opposing slavery, John Quincy Adams was made famous for speech at the Amistad case heard by the Supreme Court.

Source: John S. C. Abbott, Lives of the Presidents, A Graphic History of the United States (Chicago: J. M. Towers & Co., 1902)

In 1839 the Amistad, a Cuban ship, departed with over 50 African slaves leaving Havana for another port. The slaves revolted led by a man named Cinque. After taking the ship, they were deceived and sailed to Long Island, New York where the US Navy took custody of the vessel.

Spain demanded return of the Amistad and the fifty slaves.

American abolitionists opposed President Martin Van Buran arguing that they were not “property” but human beings kidnapped from Africa.

John Quincy Adams, nicknamed “Old Man Eloquent”, was asked to represent the slaves. His argument was simple and he pointed to the Declaration of Independence:

“The moment you come to the Declaration of Independence, that every man has a right to life and liberty, an inalienable right, this case is decided. I ask nothing more on behalf of these unfortunate men than this Declaration.”

Slave trade had been banned, so the Court ruled the slaves were free men.

Adams was reluctant to even take the case, saying he was “Too Old” and he never “billed” for his services. However, Adams’ remarks and stance in Court garnered a great gift of freedom for those African slaves. They honored Adams with an eloquent Bible from Africa.

February 24, 1841 – A Great Day in American History.

A Full transcript of the speech can be found here

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON


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