Teachers

Teaching With Documents:The Amistad Case

John Quincy Adams' request for papers relating to the lower court trials of the Amistad Africans,
January 23, 1841

After the Federal District Court ruled in favor of the Africans, the U.S. District Attorney filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. In the trial before the Supreme Court, the Africans were represented by John Quincy Adams, a former U.S. President and descendant of American revolutionaries. Preparing for his appearance before the Court, Adams requested papers from the lower courts one month before the proceedings opened. For 8 ½ hours, the 73-year-old Adams passionately and eloquently defended the Africans' right to freedom on both legal and moral grounds, referring to treaties prohibiting the slave trade and to the Declaration of Independence.

View Document Images
1 | 2

John Quincy Adams's Request for Papers
Click to Enlarge

National Archives
and Records Administration,
Records of the Supreme Court of the United States, RG 267
National Archives Identifier: 301671


The Amistad Case Main Page

Teachers >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272

.