Posted in PBS
One of the most pernicious allegations made against the African-American people was that our slave ancestors were either exceptionally “docile” or “content and loyal,” thus explaining their purported failure to rebel extensively
So, did African-American slaves rebel? Of course they did. These are considered the five greatest slave rebellions in the United States.
1. Stono Rebellion, 1739. The Stono Rebellion was the largest slave revolt ever staged in the 13 colonies. On Sunday, Sept. 9, 1739, a day free of labor, about 20 slaves under the leadership of a man named Jemmy provided whites with a painful lesson on the African desire for liberty. Many members of the group were seasoned soldiers, either from the Yamasee War or from their experience in their homes in Angola, where they were captured and sold, and had been trained in the use of weapons.
They gathered at the Stono River and raided a warehouse-like store, Hutchenson’s, executing the white owners and placing their victims’ heads on the store’s front steps for all to see. They moved on to other houses in the area, killing the occupants and burning the structures, marching through the colony toward St. Augustine, Fla., where under Spanish law, they would be free.
As the march proceeded, not all slaves joined the insurrection; in fact, some hung back and actually helped hide their masters. But many were drawn to it, and the insurrectionists soon numbered about 100. They paraded down King’s Highway, according to sources, carrying banners and shouting, “Liberty!” — lukango in their native Kikongo, a word that would have expressed the English ideals embodied in liberty and, perhaps, salvation.
The slaves fought off the English for more than a week before the colonists rallied and killed most of the rebels, although some very likely reached Fort Mose. Even after Colonial forces crushed the Stono uprising, outbreaks occurred, including the very next year, when South Carolina executed at least 50 additional rebel slaves. Continue reading