Thursday, February 04, 2016


On this day in 1794, France abolished slavery, only to have Napoleon re-institute it four years later.
In March that year, the United States would pass the Slave Trade Act, limiting transport of slaves to American ports. This set the stage for further restrictions which eventually outlawed the importation of slaves to the United States until finally the Thirteenth Amendment  made owning slaves in the United States illegal.

One of my favorite movies is Amistad, about a slave ship revolt in 1839. While owning slaves in the United States was legal in 1839, the transport of slaves was not.  John Quincy Adams, played by Sir Anthony Hopkins, tries the case to the Supreme Court against the ship owners and has some of the best lines of the movie.

"Well, when I was an attorney, a long time ago, young man, I err... I realized, after much trial and error, that in the courtroom, whoever tells the best story wins. In un-lawyerlike fashion, I give you that scrap of wisdom free of charge."

[to the Court, with a copy of the Declaration of Independence in hand]
This man is black. We can all see that. But can we also see as easily that which is equally true: that he is the only true hero in this room? Now, if he were white, he wouldn't be standing before this court fighting for his life. If he were white and his enslavers were British, he wouldn't be standing, so heavy the weight of the medals and honors we would bestow upon him. Songs would be written about him. The great authors of our times would fill books about him. His story would be told and retold, in our classrooms. Our children, because we would make sure of it, would know his name as well as they know Patrick Henry's. Yet, if the South is right, what are we to do with that embarrassing, annoying document, The Declaration of Independence? What of its conceits? "All men created equal," "inalienable rights," "life, liberty," and so on and so forth? What on Earth are we to do with this? I have a modest suggestion."
[tears papers in half]

Great cast, great script and direction, I give it 6 stars out of 5, and find it so enjoyable I watch it on a regular basis.

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