Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Amistad Speech before the Supreme Court by John Quincy Adams. As we reflect on liberty let us reflect on the wonder of this great man

Pictures of Adams
His grave in Quincy, Mass

The Amistad Speech before the Supreme Court by John Quincy Adams was perhaps one of the greatest ever by an American speaking for liberty. It took many hours. In it he reflected on the greatest want of man, Liberty.

As we reach the 4th of July and celebrate the birth of this nation. Let us not forget the trials of the great who made this country what it is ....

I would hope someday to see the name John Quincy Adams next too others who fought for equality and just for all.
He beat out the powerhouses of the day and won freedom for the Amistad slaves. I often find that he is totally under rated and under respected. Next to posters of Frederick Douglas should be that of John Quincy Adams.
The man who killed the "gag rule" in Congress. If you do not know what that means...It meant that you could not bring up matters of slavery in Congress!!! Adams fought and won a victory over all forms of slavery...He did indeed light the match that started the civil war......He killed the gag rule and then it could be talked about...and it lead to civil war and the end of that horror called slavery.

May his named forever be blessed. For he gave his all for freedom.

I mention him today as we talk of freedom and independence. I am not a great fan of Thomas Jefferson as I find him to be a terrible hypocrite. John Quincy Adams risked all to make a difference.

He received daily death threats, yet he went on.

Watch the movie Amistad and see the greatness of this amazing man. I have added here a transcript from the movie of Adams speech before the Supreme Court. Many were a group of Southern men who were under the influence of Chief Justice Taney, who would later write the Dred Scott decision. Yet Adams beat them with intellect and magnificence in oral arguments.

Here are the words from the movie in which Adams speaks before the court.......


Your Honors, I derive much consolation from the fact that my colleague, Mr. Baldwin, here, has argued the case in so able and so complete a manner as to leave me scarcely anything to say.
However, why are we here? How is it that a simple, plain property issue should now find itself so ennobled as to be argued before the Supreme Court of the United States of America? I mean, do we fear the lower courts, which found for us easily, somehow missed the truth? Is that it? Or is it, rather, our great and consuming fear of civil war that has allowed us to heap symbolism upon a simple case that never asked for it and now would have us disregard truth, even as it stands before us, tall and proud as a mountain? The truth, in truth, has been driven from this case like a slave, flogged from court to court, wretched and destitute. And not by any great legal acumen on the part of the opposition, I might add, but through the long, powerful arm of the Executive Office.
Yea, this is no mere property case, gentlemen. I put it to you thus: This is the most important case ever to come before this court. Because what it, in fact, concerns is the very nature of man.
These are transcriptions of letters written between our Secretary of State, John Forsyth, and the Queen of Spain, Isabella the Second. Now, I ask that you accept their perusal as part of your deliberations.
Thank you, sir. [to court officer]
I would not touch on them now except to notice a curious phrase which is much repeated. The queen again and again refers to our incompetent courts. Now what, I wonder, would be more to her liking? Huh? A court that finds against the Africans? Well, I think not. And here is the fine point of it: What her majesty wants is a court that behaves just like her courts, the courts this eleven year-old child plays with in her magical kingdom called Spain, a court that will do what it is told, a court that can be toyed with like a doll, a court -- as it happens -- of which our own President, Martin Van Buren, would be most proud.
Thank you. [takes document from Baldwin]
This is a publication of the Office of the President. It's called the Executive Review, and I'm sure you all read it. At least I'm sure the President hopes you all read it. This is a recent issue, and there's an article in here written by a "keen mind of the South," who is my former Vice President, John Calhoun, perhaps -- Could it be? -- who asserts that:
"There has never existed a civilized society in which one segment did not thrive upon the labor of another. As far back as one chooses to look -- to ancient times, to biblical times -- history bears this out. In Eden, where only two were created, even there one was pronounced subordinate to the other. Slavery has always been with us and is neither sinful nor immoral. Rather, as war and antagonism are the natural states of man, so, too, slavery, as natural as it is inevitable."
Now, gentlemen, I must say I differ with the keen minds of the South, and with our president, who apparently shares their views, offering that the natural state of mankind is instead -- and I know this is a controversial idea -- is freedom. Is freedom. And the proof is the length to which a man, woman, or child will go to regain it, once taken. He will break loose his chains, He will decimate his enemies. He will try and try and try against all odds, against all prejudices, to get home.
Cinque, would you stand up, if you would, so everyone can see you. 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 able to stand, 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 up the Executive Review]

The other night I was talking with my friend, Cinque. He was over at my place, and we were out in the greenhouse together. And he was explaining to me how when a member of the Mende -- that's his people -- how when a member of the Mende encounters a situation where there appears no hope at all, he invokes his ancestors. It's a tradition. See, the Mende believe that if one can summon the spirits of one's ancestors, then they have never left, and the wisdom and strength they fathered and inspired will come to his aid.

James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams: We've long resisted asking you for guidance. Perhaps we have feared in doing so we might acknowledge that our individuality which we so, so revere is not entirely our own. Perhaps we've feared an appeal to you might be taken for weakness. But, we've come to understand, finally, that this is not so.

We understand now, we've been made to understand, and to embrace the understanding that who we are is who we were.

We desperately need your strength and wisdom to triumph over our fears, our prejudices, our-selves. Give us the courage to do what is right.

And if it means civil war, then let it come. And when it does, may it be, finally, the last battle of the American Revolution.

That's all I have to say.

That is just a bit of the great words of Old man eloquent as he was known. So as you think of liberty, justice, fairness, remember the great master of these ideals ..... John Q. Adams.

The author of the Monroe Doctrine, 6th President of the United States, member of Congress 1830-1848, Ambassador for George Washington, Secretary for his father John Adams (1777- 1780), Secretary of State, Arbitrator for peace with England for the War of 1812, Abolitionist, Philosopher, author, Lastly the man who started the chain of events that started the civil war, and above all a man who believed in liberty and the rights of man.

History thanks you sir