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Lecture 2

POLB30H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: United States V. The Amistad, Legal Positivism

Political Science
Course Code
Margaret Kohn

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Week 2: Amistad: The right to have rights, The right to resist
Key dates, names, and terms
1839: The Africans arrived in Cuba, are sold as slaves, and depart on the Amistad
1817/1820: A treaty is a formal agreement between two or more countries. This treaty
outlawed the slave trade.
Montes and Ruiz: Slave owners.
Cinque: Leader of the mutiny on the Amistad.
Salvage: The right to claim goods or property that remain after a casualty.
Pinckney Treaty (1795): A treaty is a formal agreement between two or more countries. This
treaty requires signatories to restore property belonging to citizens of foreign countries.
Legal positivism: the la is the la = the ritte la ust take preedee oer oralit or
what some have called natural law.
Natural law: Principles derived from reason (Ex: you should not kill innocent people).
Jurisdiction: Jurisdiction is the Power of a court to adjudicate cases and issue orders.
Sometimes it also refers to a territory within which a court or government agency may properly
exercise its power.
The legal issues
Are Cinque and his fellow Africans people or property? (standing)
If they are humans, are they nevertheless murderers, pirates and mutineers?
Does the United States or Spain get to decide? (jurisdiction)
Who, if anyone, gets to salvage?
Every man has a right to secure his own right;
Thomas Hobbes and John Locke (social contract theorists)
Every man is free in the state of nature
Humans consent to government in order to secure their interests and lives
An authority that violates rights is illegitimate and can be resisted
The Amistad case goes to the United States Supreme Court
Speech by John Quincy Adams (from the movie Amistad)
o Write down two ideas from the speech that underscore points from the lecture
o Write down one argument that is confusing or unfamiliar
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