Many people are aware that slavery was once legal in the United States of America. This dark piece of history is reflected in the 1997 film Amistad. The true story of a slave ship where the kidnapped men, women, and children rebelled to go back to their home in Africa. This true story is a reminder of the violation of civil rights that was once legal.
The movie opens right up on the slave ship. We are introduced to Sengbe Pieh who has lead his fellow men aboard the Amistad to rebel against the men who have kidnapped them. This is not an easy task for them to take on as they find themselves fighting against the ships crew who keep turning the ship around. After a long struggle, Sengbe Pieh finds himself in America. Upon hearing of the rebellion he lead upon the ship he is punished cruelly for fighting for his freedom. Yet, in a turn this becomes a case in when abolitionist lawyer Robert Sherman Baldwin takes the case. A little reluctant at first, he realizes that Sengbe was kidnapped along with the rest of the men, women and children aboard the ship. While challenging his opponents Sengbe tells Baldwin the horrors that he endured upon the slave ship. He explains how he witnessed men being whipped to the point where they bleed to death, women being thrown overboard because there were too many people, and children being taken from their families. Sengbe’s story has a strong influences on Baldwin. Eventually, the judge rules in favor of Sengbe and his fellow countrymen. He is allowed to go home to Sierra Leone. He does go home to find his own town to be destroyed after a raid. As for what happened in America, a line that was already drawn brings more tension between the North and South.
Amistad is a movie that I viewed when I was in middle school. I was shocked and saddened to see what the kidnapped victims went through when they came to America to be sold as slaves. On March 9, 1841 it was ruled in the United States Supreme Court that the people aboard the Amistad were obtained illegally. The men, women, and children who kidnapped to be sold as slaves on the Amistad were free before they were taken, thus making it illegal. This historic victory would help lead to slavery being abolished once and for all.