The Federal Judicial Center's site at has a narrative and excerpts from court documents about the Amistad case, which was a sensation in the 1840s and became a movie more than 150 years later. The case involved 42 men and women from the Mende region of West Africa. The Africans, kidnapped and sold in Cuba to Spaniards, were bound on the schooner Amistad to plantations on the island's coast when they revolted and seized the ship. The Mende eventually landed on Long Island, N.Y. After a series of legal actions, they gained their freedom by order of the Supreme Court. Former President John Quincy Adams represented the Mende before the high court. The site also includes other information about the history of the federal court system.


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