Tula’s Rebellion was an event that occurred in Dutch-held Bandabou, Curacao in late 1795 and originated from the Knip Plantation. On August 17 of that year, Tula and company arrived on Knip Plantation’s square to give their master Caspar Lodewijk van Uytrecht their demands. They declared they wouldn’t be slaves.
Their demands included an end to collective punishment, the option to trade for clothes and supplies with others besides slave holders, and no work on Sundays.
Perhaps knowing how this would play out, the plantation owner sent them to Fort Amsterdam’s lieutenant governor to deliver their demands. Free to go, they moved on to Lagun and would free over 20 imprisoned slaves. As Tula’s group moved on plantations, their numbers grew.
This resulted in owners heading to the most highly defended part of the region: Fort Amsterdam. It was one thing for slaves to take over rural plantations where they outnumbered their overseers and were better armed—it was another to take the main city.
The other wing of Tula’s Rebellion was the French slave Louis Mercier’s group who had descended on Saint Kruis. Mercier’s assault there resulted in him taking a number of prisoners before attacking the Knip Plantation and adding more slaves to his numbers. Eventually, Mercier would meet up with Tula, tracking him down purely by following the destroyed plantations in the rebel leader’s wake.
Tula’s rebel forces would fight Lt. R.G Plegher’s 67 men on August 19. They were initially caught unaware by Plegher while camping but managed to defeat the Dutch soldiers. When news of this defeat reached the governor of Curacao, he ordered another force be formed.
Father Schink, a Dutch religious leader, is the neutral party and talks with the rebels. He attempted to negotiate a treaty on behalf of the colonists but Tula would budge on at least getting freedom. The governor pulls his final card to deal with Tula: armed slaves are to be shot on sight. As a result, Tula’s forces experience significant losses.
The Dutch capture Tula in late 1795 after a rebel slave gives him up. On October 3, the government tortures the rebel leader to death publicly. Also executed are the other leaders. To stem the chances of another rebellion in the future, the colony would implement policies to improve life for slaves in Curacao.
Slavery in Curacao would end after 70 years in 1863. In the present, August 17 is a day celebrating Tula’s Rebellion.