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Amistad Review Steven Spielbergs Amistad is centered on the legal status of Africans caught and brought to America on a Spanish slave ship The Africans rise up and begin a mutiny against their captors on the high seas and are brought to trial in a New England court The court must decide if the Africans are actually born as slaves or if they were illegally brought from Africa If the Africans were born as slaves then they would be guilty of murder but if their being brought here from Africa is illegal they had the right to defend themselves This was not such a simple issue since the slave trade had been banned by treaties at the time of the Amistad incident in 1839 The movie starts on board the Amistad On the ship the leader of the Africans Cinque frees himself from his chains and frees the rest of his tribe They slaves are being taken from a Havana slave market to another destination in Cuba The two men who bought them are spared and promise to take the slaves back to Africa Instead the Amistad is guided into US waters and the Africans end up being tried in a New England court Luckily it is a Northern court If the slaves had ended up in the South they would have no chance of getting off The slaves are first defended by Roger Baldwin a well-off real estate lawyer who bases the case on property law Only slowly does Baldwin come to see his clients the slaves as human beings Also two Boston abolitionists an immigrant called Tappan and a former slave named Joadson are in the defense Together these men work to try to free the 53 slaves aboard the Amistad After the slaves are tried and freed at the New England district court they must go to the Supreme Court In the Supreme Court John Quincy Adams former president who is fighting
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