Contents
Introduction
Libel of Thomas R. Gedney
Answer of the Proctors
John Quincy Adams' request for paper
Opinion of the Supreme Court
Statement of the Supreme Court to Circuit Cour
Teaching Activities
Library Sections
The Complete Shakespeare
Articles on Education
US State Facts
Facts on Canada
Historical Documents
Classical Literature

/ Home / Library / Historical Documents / Historical Documents / The Amistad Case / Libel of Lieutenant Thomas R. Gedney

Libel of Lieutenant Thomas R. Gedney,
on behalf of himself and the officers and crew of the U.S. Brig Washington

August 29, 1839

National Archives and Records Administration-Northeast Region, Waltham, MA, Records of the District Courts of the United States, RG 21

The Washington was the brig that seized the Amistad off the coast of Long Island. Its commander was Lt. Thomas R. Gedney. In his libel, or written statement, to Judge Andrew T. Judson of the district court, he described the encounter with the Amistad. Because he sought salvage of the schooner and its cargo, he was very detailed in his account and itemized all of its cargo, estimating its value at $40,000 and the value of the Africans as slaves at $25,000. In maritime law, compensation is allowed to persons whose assistance saves a ship or its cargo from impending loss. The libelants claimed that with great difficulty and danger to themselves they recaptured the Amistad from the Africans. They claimed that had they not seized the vessel, it would have been a total loss to its "rightful" owners. Therefore, Gedney and his crew believed they were entitled to salvage rights. At that time in U.S. history, even individuals acting in their official capacity as officials of the government were entitled to salvage rights.

In addition, Gedney relayed that the Africans could speak only native African tongues and that one of the two Spaniards, Jose Ruiz, spoke English. Gedney included in his libel the account of the mutiny as told by Ruiz.

Below are the scans of the original documents. Click on any document to view a large version. Please note that these images may take some time to download depending on your Internet connection.

Cover Page
(144 kb)
Page 1
(235 kb)
Page 2
(255 kb)
Page 3
(233 kb)
Page 4
(253 kb)
Page 5
(193 kb)
Page 6
(229 kb)
Page 7
(256 kb)
Page 8
(247 kb)

This document has been reproduced from the National Archives and Records Administration for use by educators and students. Generally, material produced by the Federal agencies are in the public domain. To find out more about Amistad and more on American history, we invite you to browse the large collection of data available at NARA.



Looking for a job in the education sector? Visit Education America Network (for US job postings) or Education Canada Network (for Canadian opportunities).


Re-use/reproduction of some materials may be limited, please see our Acceptable Use Guidelines.
© 2001-2004 World of Education