Slave rebellion

Slave rebellion

A slave rebellion is an armed uprising by slaves. Slave rebellions have occurred in nearly all societies that practice slavery, and are amongst the most feared events for slaveholders. Famous historic slave rebellions have been led by Denmark Vesey; the Roman slave Spartacus; the thrall Tunni who rebelled against the Swedish king Ongenþeow, a rebellion that needed Danish assistance to be quelled; the poet-prophet Ali bin Muhammad, who led imported east African slaves in Iraq during the Zanj Rebellion against the Abbasid Caliphate in the ninth century; Madison Washington during the Creole case in 19th century America; and Granny Nanny of the Maroons who rebelled against the British in Jamaica.


Ancient Sparta had a special type of serf-like "helots". Their masters treated them harshly and helots often resorted to rebellions. [ [ Sparta - A Military City-State] ] According to Herodotus (IX, 28–29), helots were seven times as numerous as Spartans. Every autumn, according to Plutarch ("Life of Lycurgus", 28, 3–7), the Spartan ephors would pro forma declare war on the helot population so that any Spartan citizen could kill a helot without fear of blood or guilt ("crypteia").

Probably the most famous slave rebellion in Europe was that led by Spartacus in Roman Italy, the Third Servile War. [ [ The Sicilian Slave Wars and Spartacus] ] This was the third in a series of unrelated Servile Wars fought by slaves to the Romans.

English peasants' revolt of 1381 led to calls for the reform of feudalism in England and an increase in rights for the serf class. Peasants' Revolt was one of a number of popular revolts in late medieval Europe. Richard II agreed to reforms such as fair rents and the abolition of serfdom. Following the collapse of the revolt, the king's concessions were quickly revoked, but rebellion is significant because it marked the beginning of the end of serfdom in medieval England. [ [ Chronology Of Slavery] ]

In Russia, the slaves were usually classified as kholops. A kholop's master had unlimited power over his life. Slavery remained a major institution in Russia until the 1723, when the Peter the Great converted the household slaves into house serfs. Russian agricultural slaves were formally converted into serfs earlier in 1679. [ [ Ways of ending slavery] ] 16th and 17th centuries runaway serfs and kholops known as Cossacks (‘outlaws’) formedautonomous communities in the southern steppes.

There were numerous rebellions against the slavery and serfdom, most often in conjunction with Cossack uprisings, such as the uprisings of Ivan Bolotnikov (1606-1607), Stenka Razin (1667-1671), [ [ Russia before Peter the Great] ] Kondraty Bulavin (1707-1709), and Yemelyan Pugachev (1773-1775), often involving hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions. [ [ Rebellions] ] Between the end of the Pugachev rebellion and the beginning of the 19th century, there were hundreds of outbreaks across Russia. [ [ The Slave Revolts] ]

outh America and Caribbean

*Quilombo dos Palmares in Brazil most famously led by Zumbi.
*The most successful slave uprising in the Americas was that the Haitian Revolution, which began in 1791 and was eventually led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, culminating in the independent black republic of Haiti.
*Panama also has an extensive history of slave rebellions going back to the 16th century. Slaves were brought to the isthmus from many regions in Africa now in modern day countries like the Congo, Senegal, Guinea, and Mozambique. Immediately before their arrival on shore, or very soon after, many enslaved Africans revolted against their captors, or participated in mass maroonage, or desertion. The freed Africans founded communities in the forests and mountains, organized guerrilla bands known as Cimarrones, and began a long guerrilla war against the Spanish Conquistadores, sometimes in conjunction with nearby indigenous communities like the Kuna and the Guaymí. Despite massacres by the Spanish, the rebels fought until the Spanish crown was forced to concede to treaties that granted the Africans a life without Spanish violence and incursions. The leaders of the guerrilla revolts included Felipillo, Bayano, Juan de Dioso, Domingo Congo, Antón Mandinga, and Luis de Mozambique.
*Tacky's War (1760)
*Suriname, constant guerrilla warfare by Maroons, in 1765-1793 by the Aluku led by Boni
*Berbice, 1763 slave revolt, led by Cuffy
*Cuba, 1795, 1798, 1802, 1805, 1812 (Aponte revolt), 1825, 1827, 1829, 1833, 1834, 1835, 1838, 1839-43, 1844 (La Escalera conspiracy and revolt)
*Curaçao, 1795 slave revolt, led by Tula
*Venezuela, José Leonardo Chirino's Insurrection 1795
*Barbados, 1816 slave revolt, led by Bussa
*Guyana, The Demerara Rebellions of 1795 and 1823cite web

title=The 1763 and 1823 slave rebellions
author=McGowan, Winston
accessdate=December 07|accessyear=2006
publisher=Starbroeck News

*Jamaica's Baptist War, 1831-1832, led by the Baptist preacher, Samuel Sharpe.
*Bahia Rebellion of 1835 (The Great Revolt)(Brazil).
*Bahia Rebellion of 1822-1830(Brazil).
*Bahia Rebellion of 1835 (Brazil)cite web|url=|publisher="Muhammad Shareef"|title="A Continuity of the 19th Century Jihaad Movements of Western Sudan "|] .
*In the British Virgin Islands, minor slave revolts occurred in 1790, 1823 and 1830.
*St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, 1733 slave insurrection on St. John, it was the first successful slave rebellion in the Western Hemisphere

North America

Numerous black slave rebellions and insurrections took place in North America during the 18th and 19th centuries. There is documentary evidence of more than 250 uprisings or attempted uprisings involving ten or more slaves. Three of the best known in the United States are the revolts by Gabriel Prosser in Virginia in 1800, Denmark Vesey in Charleston, South Carolina in 1822, and Nat Turner in Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831.

Slave resistance in the antebellum South finally became the focus of historical scholarship in the 1940s, when historian Herbert Aptheker started publishing the first serious scholarly work on the subject. Aptheker stressed how the rebellion was rooted in the exploitative conditions of the Southern slave system. He traversed libraries and archives throughout the South, managing to uncover roughly 250 similar instances, though none of them reached the scale of the Nat Turner uprising.

John Brown had already fought against pro-slavery forces in Kansas for several years when he decided to lead a raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia (West Virginia was not yet a state). This raid was a joint attack by former slaves, freed blacks, and white men who had corresponded with slaves on plantations in order to form a general uprising amongst slaves. It almost succeeded, had it not been for Brown's delay, and hundreds of slaves left their plantations to join Brown's force - and others left their plantations to join Brown in an escape to the mountains. Eventually, due to a tactical error by Brown, their force was quelled. But directly following this, slave disobedience and runaways sky-rocketed in Virginia. [Louis A. DeCaro Jr., John Brown--The Cost of Freedom: Selections from His Life & Letters (New York: International Publishers, 2007), 16.]

*Gaspar Yanga's Revolt (c. 1570) near the Mexican city of Veracruz; the group then escaped to the highlands and built a free colony
*Gloucester County, Virginia Revolt (1663) ["Slave Insurrections in the United States, 1800-1865" By Joseph Cephas Carroll. Page 13]
*New York Slave Revolt of 1712
*Stono Rebellion (1739)
*New York Slave Insurrection of 1741
*Gabriel's Rebellion (1800)
*Chatham Manor Rebellion (1805)
*Louisiana Territory Slave Rebellion, led by Charles Deslondes (1811)
*George Boxley Rebellion (1815)
*Denmark Vesey's Uprising (1822)
*Nat Turner's slave rebellion (1831)
*Black Seminole Slave Rebellion (1835-1838)
*Amistad Seizure (1839)
*John Brown raids Harpers Ferry, Virginia (1859)

Middle East

The Zanj Revolt against the Abbasid Caliphate took place in Southern Iraq near the city of Basra between 869 and 879 AD. [ [ Zanj rebellion] ] The "Zanj" were slaves from East Africa, since the term Zanj describes the East African coast. There were large numbers of people imported from East Africa via Somali and Ethiopian ports from as far as Southern Sudan. The slaves were mainly used to work on the massive irrigation projects of the area. The origin of the word "Zanj" comes from Persian, and is related to the names in East Africa of "Zanzibar" which is also known to have 9th century links to the Middle East.cite web|url=|publisher="Owen 'Alik Shahadah"|title="Zanj Rebellion"|] . They were led by ˤAlī ibn Muħammad, who claimed descent from ˤAlī, the fourth Caliph, in a campaign against the central government based in Samarra.


In 1808 and 1825 there were slave rebellions in the Cape Colony, newly acquired by the British. Although the slave trade was officially abolished in the British Empire by the Slave Trade Act of 1807, and slavery itself a generation later with the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, it took until 1850 to be halted in the territories which were to become South Africa. [Giliomee, Hermann (2003). "The Afrikaners", Chapter 4 - Masters, Slaves and Servants, the fear of gelykstelling, Page 93,94]


*Herbert Aptheker, "American Negro Slave Revolts", 6. ed., New York : International Publ., 1993 - classic
*David P. Geggus, ed., T"he Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World", Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2001
*Eugene D. Genovese, "From Rebellion to Revolution: Afro-American Slave Revolts in the Making of the Modern World", Louisiana State University Press 1980
*Joao Jose Reis, "Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia" (Johns Hopkins Studies in Atlantic History and Culture), Johns Hopkins Univ Press 1993
*Rodriguez, Junius P., ed. "Encyclopedia of Slave Resistance and Rebellion". Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2007.
*Rodriguez, Junius P., ed. "Slavery in the United States: A Social, Political, and Historical Encyclopedia". Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2007.

External links

* [ PBS online article: New York: The Revolt of 1712]
* [ Rebellion: John Horse and the Black Seminoles, First Black Rebels to Beat American Slavery] , these maroons affiliated with Seminole Indians in Florida led a slave rebellion that would be the largest in U.S. history.
* [ Bahia Revolt]
* Hahn, Steven. " [ The Greatest Slave Rebellion in Modern History: Southern Slaves in the American Civil War] " "Southern Spaces"
* [ Welcome to Encyclopædia Britannica's Guide to Black History]

References and notes

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