Today in History, February 24: 1840 – US Representative John Quincy Adams, a former President, begins his defense of slaves aboard the Amistad, a Spanish slave ship which was transporting them to Cuba to be sold. The slaves killed the ship’s Captain and forced the crew to sail them back to Africa…the crew instead took them to the US. The case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, where Adams argued for their return to their home. He won the argument….but not the funds to return them. The funds would have to be raised from sympathetic Americans.
Adams would continue to serve in the House until he collapsed at his desk, and died two days later on February 23, 1848. Several of his decendants would serve prominently in the government.