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Lesson Plan: The Amistad Case

The Amistad affair took place at a critical moment in the history of the Atlantic slave system. In 1833, Britain emancipated 800,000 colonial blacks; at the same time, the British navy was also engaged in an expensive campaign to suppress the African slave trade. Yet in Cuba and the American South, slavery was continuing to expand. Prior to the Dred Scott decision, the Amistad case was, arguably, the single most important legal case involving slavery during the nineteenth century. The Amistad case raised critical issues of law and justice. The central issue raised by the case was whether enslaved people had the right to rise up against their captors in rebellion. Do people who are held illegally have a right to self-defense?

Lesson Plan | Narrative of Amistad Incident | Timeline of Abolitionism | Document Essay