The uplifting scene near the end of the movie when Captain Fitzgerald (Peter Firth) broadsides the fortress into oblivion seems taken from Commander Joseph Denman's destruction of Blanco's emporia in 1840, thus well before the Amistad case
had reached the Supreme Court.
The discussion of the Amistad case
and slavery makes for interesting reading.
In the case of Amistad, the dramatic altering of the Adams and Baldwin characters solely to add drama takes power away from the deeply-rooted and organized abolitionist movement that existed during the period of the Amistad case
Supreme Courtin the Amistad case
on February 24, 1841, capturing the moral high ground on behalf of the African prisoners seeking their freedom.
Supreme Court cases both before and after his presidency--including the famed Amistad case
The Amistad case
of 1839 afforded Northern abolitionists an opportunity to put a chink in the armor of slavery.
Interestingly, Chief Justice Roger Taney--who later ruled in the Dred Scott case that a black man, even a free black man, can never have access to federal courts--signed on to Story's opinion in the Amistad case
granting the Africans their day in court, a court that included full jury trial.
Lindsley's Love and Friendship (1809), a farce that features an impassioned complaint against the Middle Passage delivered by a cross-dressing white female actor in blackface, to The Black Schooner (1839), a hugely popular melodrama inspired by the Amistad case
, to Harry Seymour's Aunt Dinah's Pledge (1850), an adaptation of a temperance novel that emphasized its African American heroine's refined sensibility and capacity for moral commitment even as it also invoked the rhetoric of antislavery reformers who associated the slaveholder's unchecked authority with the carnal excess of the inebriate.
During the making of the film, Spielberg and one of his producers, Debbie Allen, conferred with black scholars on such issues as slavery and the historical impact of the Amistad case
- Handwritten records of this landmark case beginning in 1839 involving the Spanish schooner Amistad, used to transport illegal slaves.
courts was most clearly established by the Supreme Court in the 1841 Amistad case
The Amistad case
was singular not just because its successful outcome was unprecedented but mainly because its legal victories did not foster a just pattern of development in other court trials involving race.