[Video] The Slave Rebellion That Liberated A Nation: The Haitian Revolution of 1791

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 7.00.50 PM
.
The Haitian Revolution has often been described as the largest and most successful slave rebellion in the Western Hemisphere.  Slaves initiated the rebellion in 1791 and by 1803 they had succeeded in ending not just slavery but French control over the colony.  The Haitian Revolution, however, was much more complex, consisting of several revolutions going on simultaneously. These revolutions were influenced by the French Revolution of 1789, which would come to represent a new concept of human rights, universal citizenship, and participation in government.
.
In the 18th century, Saint Dominigue, as Haiti was then known, became France’s wealthiest overseas colony, largely because of its production of sugar, coffee, indigo, and cotton generated by an enslaved labor force.  When the French Revolution broke out in 1789 there were five distinct sets of interest groups in the colony. There were white planters—who owned the plantations and the slaves—and petit blancs, who were artisans, shop keepers and teachers.  Some of them also owned a few slaves.  Together they numbered 40,000 of the colony’s residents.  Many of the whites on Saint Dominigue began to support an independence movement that began when France imposed steep tariffs on the items imported into the colony.  The planters were extremely disenchanted with France because they were forbidden to trade with any other nation.  Furthermore, the white population of Saint-Dominique did not have any representation in France.  Despite their calls for independence, both the planters and petit blancs remained committed to the institution of slavery.

[Video] Nat Turner’s Slave Rebellion

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 8.42.07 PMFrom PBS

Nat Turner was born on October 2, 1800, in Southampton County, Virginia, the week before Gabriel was hanged. While still a young child, Nat was overheard describing events that had happened before he was born. This, along with his keen intelligence, and other signs marked him in the eyes of his people as a prophet “intended for some great purpose.” A deeply religious man, he “therefore studiously avoided mixing in society, and wrapped [him]self in mystery, devoting [his] time to fasting and praying.”

In 1821, Turner ran away from his overseer, returning after thirty days because of a vision in which the Spirit had told him to “return to the service of my earthly master.” The next year, following the death of his master, Samuel Turner, Nat was sold to Thomas Moore. Three years later, Nat Turner had another vision. He saw lights in the sky and prayed to find out what they meant. Then “… while laboring in the field, I discovered drops of blood on the corn, as though it were dew from heaven, and I communicated it to many, both white and black, in the neighborhood; and then I found on the leaves in the woods hieroglyphic characters and numbers, with the forms of men in different attitudes, portrayed in blood, and representing the figures I had seen before in the heavens.”

Continue reading

The Five Greatest Slave Rebellions In US History

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 7.26.28 AM

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