Abolitionists persuaded former President John Quincy Adams to represent the Amistad rebels before the Supreme Court. Adams accepted the invitation, stating that "there is in my estimation no higher object upon earth ... than to occupy that position." The 74-year-old Adams argued that the Africans had "vindicated their own right of liberty" by "executing the justice of Heaven" upon a "pirate murderer, their tyrant and oppressor." Adams, the son of one of America's founders, was the only surviving stateman who had been on close terms with Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. In the end, the court ruled that the Africans had exercised the right of self-defence since they had been illegally transported as slaves from Africa to Cuba.