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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 Liberations of Amistad’s Orphans

The Liberations of Amistad’s Orphans

(p.179) 5 The Liberations of Amistad’s Orphans
Amistad's Orphans

Benjamin N. Lawrance

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses how the mythology of blanket freedom, preserved by the landmark ruling of the Supreme Court, is a powerful narrative that eliminates the complexity of Amistad's orphans' encounters with liberation and autonomy. The experience of Amistad's orphans suggests that many former slave children were rarely, if ever, free; instead they remained bound, monitored, and dependent throughout their minority. Whereas adult slaves had several options of utilizing the experience of liberty, children were constrained by different social, cultural, legal, and spatial contexts. In general, the path to freedom and autonomy for children is quite strenuous, with short-lived moments of liberty followed by restrictions of hard-won autonomy.

Keywords:   blanket freedom, liberation, autonomy, Amistad's orphans, slave children, liberty

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