La Amistad Painting

Diplomacy Classroom: La Amistad and Upholding Democracy

1:00 pm


In this Diplomacy Classroom, NMAD Public Historian Dr. Alison Mann helped us discover how the practice of diplomacy was used to enforce the rule of law. In 1839, the U.S. Navy confiscated a Spanish ship, La Amistad, off the coast of Long Island, New York. Aboard were Africans and two Spaniards, who insisted the Africans were their slaves who had taken over the ship, and a treaty between the United States and Spain stated that all “property” be restored. American abolitionists, however, argued that the Africans were free people based on international law.

Using international treaties in arguing the 1841 Supreme Court case The United States v. The Amistad, abolitionists challenged the U.S. government’s attempts to illegally enslave kidnapped Africans.

Click through the timestamps to learn about this landmark Supreme Court case

  • What is the historical and political context of the Slave Trade? 4:35
  • What is La Amistad? 6:20
  • How did the uprising happen on La Amistad? 12:30
  • What was the abolitionist movement surrounding La Amistad? 19:25
  • How did the legal battle over La Amistad play out? 22:11
  • Who were the Africans on board La Amistad? 23:32
  • How did the legal battle conclude? 34:51
  • What was the long-term aftermath of the legal battle surrounding La Amistad? 38:57

Learn about this event in history in our story “Mutiny on the Amistad” as part of our Diplomacy is Our Mission online exhibit.

Watch Diplomacy Classroom: La Amistad and Upholding Democracy