Stono Rebellion: Largest Slave Uprising in Colonial America

1 Posted by - April 14, 2023 - Injustices, SLAVERY

A common myth regarding the enslavement of Africans in the New World is that they simply endured their lot without actively fighting against it. There are several examples disproving this, one being the Stono Rebellion of 1739.

Led by a literate slave from Angola named “Jemmy,” this band of revolutionaries took advantage of a malaria epidemic that thinned the ranks of white slaveholders and other oppressors. The proximity to Spanish Florida, which offered liberty to slaves due to conflict between the British and Spanish, was also a factor that inspired and directly motivated the enslaved people that lived in nearby states. The majority of slaves in the ricelands of South Carolina were of Angolan descent. The language of business among the people in that colonized land was Portuguese, which meant that the offers of freedom from the Spanish would be easily understood.

The rebellion began on September 9, a Sunday, which caught many whites unaware. The fighters captured a store and procured arms and ammunition, raised a flag that said “Liberty,” and continued the march to Spanish Florida, burning seven plantations and killing 20 to 25 white slaveholders and overseers. They also recruited fresh troops from these plantations. The group came across the Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, who escaped and warned other slaveholders.

As a result, a militia was raised, and September 11 saw a bloody battle that killed 20 whites and 44 Africans. Battles continued, and fierce resistance to slavery was given. Nevertheless, the rebellion was eventually crushed. The survivors were mercilessly executed and had their heads implanted on stakes to serve as a warning. Other slaves were sold to the brutal West Indian colonies, where they were worked to their deaths. Despite the suppression of the revolt, the memory of it in the minds of those who either escaped or knew the rebels remained and inspired new and strong resistance.



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