American Portraits

Justice: John Quincy Adams and The Amistad

In this lesson, students will analyze the reasons why John Quincy Adams acted as the defense attorney for the Africans on The Amistad. They will discuss Adams’ role in the case and will write a journal entry as though they were one of the actors in the case and evaluate the actor’s interpretation of justice. Finally, they will determine ways they can protect justice themselves.

Founding Principles

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Due Process

The government must interact with all citizens according to the duly-enacted laws; applying these rules equally among all citizens.

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Individual Responsibility

Individuals must take care of themselves and their families and be vigilant to preserve their liberty.

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Except where authorized by citizens through the Constitution, the government does not have the authority to limit freedom.

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Rule of Law

Government and citizens all abide by the same laws regardless of political power. Those laws respect individual rights, are transparently enacted, are justly applied, and are stable.

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