Luis Norris Wilcox Letter

Original content by: Laura Krenicki

zoomable document image here
Read Aloud:

About This Document

This letter from Luis Norris Wilcox, a U.S. Marshal in New London, Connecticut, was written to Erastus Osborn of Binghamton, New York to request his help in the processing of the prisoners aboard La Amistad.  It appears that Mr. Wilcox was a personal acquaintance of Mr. Osborn, and was approaching him to assist in his case load.

Reading by Dr. Paul Goodwin.

Historical Context

La Amistad was a Spanish ship carrying slaves kidnapped from Sierra Leone.  While en route, the slaves revolted against the crew, killing all but two, including the captain.  The issue arose over the rights of the "cargo" of the ship — the kidnapped people — and became a case about human rights in the U.S. legal system.  More...

Questions for Further Thought

  1. Why did the Amistad go to Connecticut after first being stopped near Long Island, New York?
  2. Why was there debate over the ownership of the "cargo" on the Amistad?
  3. How do you think the men aboard the Washington felt when they first came across the Amistad? How do you think the slaves on board the Amistad felt after being afloat for 2 months?