Essay by hot_dranUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, November 2005

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The primary source under analysis was a libel to the district court of the United States in and for the district of Connecticut. A libel is a written claim presented by a plaintiff in an action at admiralty law, and this particular libel was written by Thomas R. Gedney who was the Lieutenant Commander of the U.S. Naval Brig entitled the Washington. The libel was written following the confiscation of the Spanish slave schooner, the Amistad, by Thomas Gedney and the rest of the crew of the Washington. The Amistad had been taken over by the slaves on board, and after two months of sailing in the Atlantic Ocean the ship was seen by the naval brig. The cargo, the remaining 45 slave who survived the journey and two Spaniards taken hostage by the slaves, all were taken by the brig. This document is Thomas Gedney's plea to the district court that he and his men are owed a salvage reward for "rescuing" the schooner and all those on board.

This document vividly shows the mindset toward slaves through the eyes of the white man, yet it can be inferred how all other people, in this legality mix-up, view the slaves and each other. From the beginning, the Amistad trial was observed by the court as a legal debate and not an issue of morality. This demonstrates how in the White world in the mid 19th century slaves were viewed as subordinates and not even fully human. The slaves were discussed as cargo by not only the Spaniards who paid for them, but Gedney and his men as well. Gedney clearly shows the separation of blacks and whites when he states, "the Cargo & of the Negroes on board who were Slaves belonging to said Spanish Gentlemen." Not only does...