The true history of this foreign-owned ship is not quite as simple as the AP wants to paint it. Its Spanish owner had arranged to transport some slaves between Havana and Puerto Principe and during the voyage the slaves mutinied, killed the crew, took control of the ship, and ended up in U.S. waters off Long Island. The importation of slaves was already illegal in the U.S. by 1839 and the case ended up in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, which famously ruled that the slaves be freed in 1841. The freed slaves returned to Africa the following year. It was a sort of trial of the century in its day. The Spielberg movie had nothing to do with its fame, except latterly.
None of these facts are in the AP story, sadly. Unfortunately, a full read of the AP story leads folks to assume that La Amistad was an American slave ship and does not tell any part of the story where the U.S. government freed those slaves.
But, perhaps the goal wasn’t to tell a full story, but was instead an effort not to tell that story so that a misconception is fostered by readers? And if it isn’t outright bias, it is certainly poor writing.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
» The AP Don’t Know Much About History — Or Anything Else - Big Journalism
Posted by macbeach at 9:17 PM