United States v. The Amistad

PETITIONER: United States
RESPONDENT: The Amistad
LOCATION: The Amistad

DOCKET NO.: None
DECIDED BY: Taney Court (1841-1842)
LOWER COURT:

ARGUED: Feb 23, 1841
DECIDED: Mar 09, 1841

ADVOCATES:
Henry D. Gilpin - for the appellant
Roger Sherman Baldwin - for the appellees
John Quincy Adams - for the appellees

Facts of the case

On June 27, 1839, the Spanish ship The Amistad left the port of Havana, Cuba, with Captain Ransom Ferrer; two passengers, Jose Ruiz and Pedro Montez; and a total of 55 alleged slaves on board. During the voyage, there was an uprising in which the slaves killed the captain and took possession of the ship. On August 26, Lieutenant Thomas Gedney, of the American ship Washington, discovered The Amistad off the Long Island shore and brought all persons involved into the district court of Connecticut. Ruiz and Montez claimed the slaves were their property and requested the relief of having their property released to them. The alleged slaves argued that they were native-born, free Africans who had been unlawfully and forcibly kidnapped to be sold as slaves. The district court agreed and held that the alleged slaves should be delivered to the President of the United States to be transported back to Africa. The Circuit Court affirmed.

Question

Are the alleged slaves the property of Ruiz and Montez?