Letter from J. Kennedy and Campbell J. Dalrymple to Seth Staples and Theodore Sedgwick
Campbell J. Dalrymple and J. Kennedy, British Commissioners in Havana, acknowledge the September 13 letter from Seth Staples and Theodore Sedgwick and "hasten to afford you whatever assistance may be in our powers in accordance with your request." In the letter, they write that news of the revolt on board the Amistad was "made known in this city almost immediately by the two sailors who escaped" and that soon afterwards a report that the Amistad had landed in the Bahamas was prevalent. News was then confirmed that the ship had reached the United States, and Dalrymple's and Kennedy's "first impression of duty was that we should write to the British minister at Washington stating the fact of the negroes having been newly and illegally brought into this Island from Africa and therefore as being entitled to be considered free persons acting under illegal restraint." Learning of the deposition of Jose Ruiz and Pedro Montes, both appeared to acknowledge the recent importation of the Africans and "as we could have stated no more" they thought any perceived interference on their part would be considered improper; "this opinion we still continue to hold but with less regret now relying on your particular zeal and ability to ensure success." The commissioners have read further reports of the case, the arguments of Staples and Sedgwick, and the decision of Judge Smith Thompson with much interest. They provide information on laws and treaties of Spain governing the slave trade as they relate to the Amistad case, stating, "from these several enactments we think the conclusion is inevitable that the negroes of the "Amistad" are entitled to be considered as free men having been unlawfully brought into captivity and therefore that the persons claiming them as slaves or merchandize claim them so wrongfully." They provide a series of names of individuals "learned in the Spanish law by whom to prove the Spanish law in case it becomes necessary to send a Commission to Cuba for this purpose."