Numerous black slave rebellions and insurrections took place in North America during the 17th, 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 during the 19th century 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 did not gain the attention of academic historians until the 1940s when historian Herbert Aptheker started publishing the first serious scholarly work on the subject. Aptheker stressed how rebellions were 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.
The 1811 German Coast Uprising, which took place outside of New Orleans in 1811, involved up to 500 slaves. It was suppressed by volunteer militias and a detachment of the United States Army. They killed 66 black men in the battle, executed 16, and 17 escaped and/or were killed along the way to freedom.
Although only involving about seventy slaves, the Turner's 1831 rebellion is considered to be a devastating event in American history. Over sixty people were killed causing the slave-holding south to go into a panic. Fifty-five men women and children were killed as Turner and his fellow rebel slaves rampaged from plantation to plantation throughout Virginia. Fears afterward led to new legislation passed by southern states prohibiting the movement, assembly, and education of slaves, and reducing the rights of free people of color. Turner and the other slaves were eventually stopped as their ammunition ran out. Resulting in the hanging of about eighteen slaves, including Nat Turner himself.
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 among 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 the number of runaways increased markedly in Virginia.
The historian Steven Hahn proposes that the self-organized involvement of slaves in the Union Army during the American Civil War composed a slave rebellion that dwarfed all others. Similarly, tens of thousands of slaves joined British forces or escaped to British lines during the American Revolution, sometimes using the disruption of war to gain freedom. For instance, when the British evacuated from Charleston and Savannah, they took 10,000 slaves with them. They also evacuated slaves from New York, taking more than 3,000 for resettlement to Nova Scotia, where they were recorded as Black Loyalists and given land grants.
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1526 San Miguel de Gualdape
- San Miguel de Gualdape (1526)
- Gaspar Yanga's Revolt (c. 1570) near the Mexican city of Veracruz; the group escaped to the highlands and built a free colony
- Gloucester County, Virginia Revolt (1663)
- New York Slave Revolt of 1712
- Stono Rebellion (1739)
- New York Slave Insurrection of 1741
- Battle of the Lord Ligonier (1767)
- Pointe Coupée Conspiracy (1795)
- Gabriel's Rebellion (1800)
- Chatham Manor Rebellion (1805)
- 1811 German Coast Uprising, (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)
- 1842 Slave Revolt in the Cherokee Nation
- John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry (1859)
Read more about this topic: Slave Rebellion
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