Friday, October 21, 2011

Property or Not

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Property or Not

The selling of African human beings began with Prince Henry, the Navigator of Portugal. With the rising stream of commerce, the trade in slaves began to rise. It was later taken over by the Spaniards to supply labor in the new world(Thomas). Africans who were taken in war, or had been sold by their own tribes to another, were considered slaves because of dept or adultery. After months, or in some cases years of slavery in another tribe, they were taken down to the shores and sold to the slave traders. In the fifteenth century, the act of war among tribes were more of a ruse than force, because the tribes knew if they were to lose, they were going to be slaves, and therefore were not as forceful as other captives (Thomas).

When the ship took on all that it could carry, it set sail. The slaves were chained two by two in positions, such as laying head to toe or squatting in a four foot area in the hole of a ship numbering in the hundreds. They were placed in iron collars, connected to each other, and secured to the wall. They were brought to the deck to feed and exercise once a day. Rations were given once a day for some, and some were not feed at all. If the slaves appeared sick or injured they were thrown overboard while chained to sink. Some slaves took there own lives aboard slave ships during the middle passage. Some realized their fate, and some did not have the understanding of what was going to happen to them, gave up by jumping overboard, or just losing the will to survive. It is estimated that between eleven to twelve million slaves were up rooted and sold into the hands of the English, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and American slave traders(Thomas). They were auctioned off to white masters to work as chattels on the plantations, and in the mines of the new world(Thomas ).

The central issue was wether the blacks had lawfully been made slaves, or if they were involved in an illegal act of slavery. Slaves were counted as a property. According to Old English Law, chattel property is any property not “real” and could never achieve any other status. Chattel is a broad term which includes ever kind of property that is movable, or immovable including furniture, cattle and clothing(Thomas). Under the Treaty of 175 in the ninth article All ships and merchandise, of what nature so ever, which shall be rescued out of the hands of any pirates or robbers on the high seas, shall be brought into some port of either state, and shall be delivered to the custody of the officers of that port, in order to be taken care of, and restored entire to the true proprietor as soon as due and sufficient proof shall be made concerning the property thereof(Thomas). Messages were sent from the Queen of Spain to the President pressuring him to return the ship and the slaves(Amistad). The line of questioning from the prosecutor was asked in order to prove that slavery in Africa was practiced, and no matter how it was defined the act of slavery was slavery. Africans knew of the term slavery and what it included within its own country. The prosecutor attempted to reveal the status of Cinque; to determine if he was actually a slave or not. If it were proven that he was a slave the United States would have no authority in the matter and would have to return the ship and slaves to the Spanish authorities. Slavery was common in all countries, and by admitting the act of slavery was the same as an indentured servant by Cinque would have helped in proving that they may actually have been slaves.

Custom Essays on Property or Not

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The capture of Cinque from his fellow tribesmen and the middle passage brought him to America where he would stand trail and defend himself as a person against people who wanted to label him as property. President Adams represented Cinque before the Supreme Court and proved that he was a free man and not someone’s property. This heightened the attention of the abolishment of slavery.

Works Cited

Cable, Mary. “Black Odyssey.” The Case of the Slave Ship Amistad. The Viking Press, Inc.

Penguin Books 171.

Thomas Hugh. “The Slave Trade.” The story of the Atlantic Slave Trade 1440-1870.

Touchstone New York 17.

Amistad Ed Mary Kotzen July 000. 7 June 00. http//amistad.mysticseaport.ord

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