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Opinion of the Supreme Court in United States v. The Amistad

March 9, 1841

National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Supreme Court of the United States, RG 267

Senior Justice Joseph Story wrote and read the decision of the Supreme Court. The Court ruled that the Africans on board the Amistad were free individuals. Kidnapped and transported illegally, they had never been slaves.

Although Justice Story had written earlier that ". . . it was the ultimate right of all human beings in extreme cases to resist oppression, and to apply force against ruinous injustice," the opinion in this case more narrowly asserted the Africans right to resist "unlawful" slavery.

The Court ordered the immediate release of the Amistad Africans.

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Opinion of the Supreme Court
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