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Kromer, a New York-based playwright and writer of television scripts, here considers the 1839 mutiny by 53 Africans aboard a Spanish slave ship, La Amistad ("Friendship") off the Cuban coast. The mutineers were tricked by the two surviving crew members into sailing to the Long Island coast instead of Africa; they were seized by the U.S. Navy, imprisoned, and charged with murder and piracy. From documents, newspaper articles, and testimonies, Kromer presents a lively account, similar to Howard Jones's Mutiny on the Amistad (Oxford Univ., 1987), of the intrigues and horrors of the slave trade on the northwestern coast of Africa and the classic Supreme Court trial, with the Africans' abolitionist legal team joined by former President John Quincy Adams. In March 1841, the U.S. Supreme Court freed the surviving 35 Africans, and ten months later they returned to Sierra Leone. La Amistad is the only slave schooner known to have been successfully commandeered by its captives. Highly recommended for all readers.
Almost 160 years ago, a group of kidnapped Africans aboard the Spanish slave ship La Amistad revolted and attempted to set sail for home. Instead, after being misguided by the captive crew to the coast of New England, they found themselves embroiled in a tempest of controversy.
An international debate would rage for two years regarding whether the Africans were indeed property or whether they were to be considered free. Led by the charismatic Cinque, the proud sojourners had not only endured the hellish Middle Passage and survived the harrowing revolt, but they would confront a hostile foreign culture -- and the prospect of being deported to a changed Africa.
A gripping account of a noble and bittersweet struggle, "Amistad" is a story never to be forgotten. Echoing a cry for freedom that can still be heard around the world today, Helen Kromer's work preserves the dignity and agony of the lonely, frightened handful of slaves who overthrew their captors and embarked on a long trip toward liberty in a world that aimed to deny them justice.
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