Seizure Of The Slaver Martha



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Seizure Of The Slaver <i>Martha</i>

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Seizure Of The Slaver <i>Martha</i>

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On June 6, 1850, a boarding party from the brig USS Perry seized the slaver Martha just hours after she loaded a cargo of 1,800 Africans from Angola. Martha's skipper first thought Perry to be British, so he hoisted the American flag because federal law prohibited foreign warships from stopping an American ship. When the skipper spied a U.S. naval officer on board the brig, he hastily raised the Brazilian flag. Perry's sailors prevented further trickery by warning him that his crew would be arrested as pirates instead of slavers should he persist in denying his true aims. Charges of piracy could result in a death penalty. Perry's captain, Lieutenant Andrew H. Foote, sent his prize to New York where the admiralty court condemned the ship. The skipper broke bail, having been fined; the first mate spent two years in prison for slave trading; and the others escaped justice because they were not Americans.

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