Essay on Amistad: The Double Nature of Slavery

Essay on Amistad: The Double Nature of Slavery

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Amistad is a 1997 movie that portrays the 1839 mutiny aboard an illegal slave ship called La Amistad. It focuses on the 1841 Supreme Court case where the American justice system is giving the job of deciding what is supposed to happen to the Africans aboard La Amistad, the ship’s captains, the ships and all of the other property aboard the ship. Leading to the rebellion aboard La Amistad, the main character, Cinque’ and a number of his fellow Africans had been illegal stolen and were being brought to the Americas by the Spanish travelers to be sold into slavery. Cinque’ gets free from his shackles and helps some of his people get free and they are able to take over the ship. They kill all of the slavers except for two. They intend for those two to help them return to Africa, but instead they are tricked and end up in The United States where they are jailed. The big decision is whether they are property that should be returned to Spain because they were aboard a Spanish ship or persons who should be tried and killed for their rebellion on La Amistad. This brings to light a historical theme called the double nature of slavery that is seen a lot when dealing with slavery.
The double nature of slavery was a lose-lose situation in most cases for Africans faced with the future of slavery. The double nature of slavery takes away the human rights that most people agree that other people have. These rights include the right to their personal freedom and the right to speak in their own defense (Roberts-Miller 2002, 8). It is a lose-lose situation because not only does it take away the human rights of the Africans, but then it also gives them personal responsibility when they do something that is considered bad. In the case Cinque’ and his...

... middle of paper ... America. Even people who were typically good people felt that it was easier to stay away from the topic of slavery because of the delicate balance between in the North and South at the time.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Africans and they return home but more importantly in American history, the court ruling helps the abolitionist movement. It also becomes symbolic of how the proud Africans stood up for themselves and were actually heard and rewarded.


Hogem Warren. 1976. Namesake of schooner slaves took over joining operating sail. New York Times, May 12.

McFelly, William S. 1987. Were These People Property?, New York Times Book Review, Jan. 18.

Roberts-Miller, Patricia. 2002. John Quincy Adams’s Amistad Argument: The problem of outrage; or, the constraints of decorum. Rhetoric Society Quarterly 32: 5-25.

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