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Amistad's OrphansAn Atlantic Story of Children, Slavery, and Smuggling$
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Benjamin N Lawrance

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780300198454

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300198454.001.0001

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The Origins of Amistad’s Orphans

The Origins of Amistad’s Orphans

(p.47) 2 The Origins of Amistad’s Orphans
Amistad's Orphans

Benjamin N. Lawrance

Yale University Press

This chapter reconstructs the origins of Amistad's orphans by studying various data (linguistic, ethnographic, and geographic) embedded in the children's narratives. The Amistad trial records served as a substantial source of information about the African captives, although the trial itself added to the confusion of the children's identities and origins. The flexibility of childhood and the multiple and shifting claims about the children made it difficult to establish any identity, not to mention that the affixing of a static ethnic identity to specific children is deeply problematic. Cross-referencing the claims and counterclaims about Amistad's orphans with current scholarly debates about language and ethnicity leads to possible sites of their origin, resulting into assumptions about the children coming from either the Mende or Galinhas region.

Keywords:   Amistad's orphans, Amistad trial, ethnic identity, ethnicity, Mende, Galinhas, La Amistad

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