American Minute with Bill Federer
IN GOD WE TRUST National Motto: Francis Scott Key’s anthem & his fight to free slaves
In 1820, a U.S. revenue cutter captured the slave ship Antelope off the coast of Florida with nearly 300 African slaves.
Francis Scott Key was the defense counsel for the Africans, many of whom were just young teenagers.
Key had come from a wealthy slave-holding family in Maryland, but as with many leaders after the Revolution, his views evolved to advocating for an end of slavery.Key fought to free the slaves of the Antelope, spending his own time and money in an expensive legal battle that dragged on for seven years.
Arguing their case before the Supreme Court in 1825, Francis Scott Key, as recorded by Henry S. Foote: “… greatly surpassed the expectations of his most admiring friends … Key closed with … an electrifying picture of the horrors connected with the African slave trade.”