We have a rich history of being defiant and taking what is ours. Toussaint Louverture is most remembered for leading the first ever slave revolt in history known as the Haitian Revolution. With this t-shirt design, we want you to imagine him reading off a list of slave rebellions. Although not all successful, we want our community to understand that our ancestors were not ok with being enslaved. Below is a short list of rebellions along with brief descriptions of the event.
German Coast Uprising
In January 1811, one of the largest slave revolts in US history occurred in the German Coast area, which is now present-day St. Charles and St. John The Baptist parish in Louisiana. Led by Charles Deslondes, an estimated 200-500 slaves marched about 25-40 miles and successfully burned down at least 2-3 plantations mostly armed with farm tools.
The only revolution to result in a nation founded by former slaves, the Haitian Revolution had a series of conflicts that lasted for more than a decade from 1791-1804.
Led by a slave named Jemmy (also known as Cato) in September 1739 in SC, about 20 slaves raided a store and marched south towards Spanish Florida for their freedom demanding liberty. While marching, 40-60 more slaves joined them.
In 1839, kidnapped slaves from Sierra Leone found themselves leaving Cuba on the slave ship Amistad. Led by Cinque, (also known as Sengbe Pieh) the shipped experienced a slave revolt on the open water. After taking control of the ship, the now free captives told the surviving members of the crew to sail back to Africa.
The Baptist War
Also known as the Christmas rebellion, in December 1831 in Jamaica, slaves demanded more free time and working wages. Led by Samuel Sharpe, about 60,000 slaves out of 300,000 on the island started a peaceful protest to have their demands met. When they weren’t, a war ensued with sugar cane fields set on fire.
In August 1831, Nat Turner led a slave rebellion in South Hampton County, VA. Listening to divine voices and seeing an eclipse of the sun, Nat Turner believed that the time for an uproar had come. He shared his vision to rebel with 4 of his friends, and about 70 more slaves were recruited and aided in the rebellion.
In 1853, Wesley Harris refused to be beat by his overseer, and in turn beat him. Later, he fled north with a group of brothers to avoid being sold.
In 1816, about 300 slaves and 20 Native Americans controlled Fort Blount in Apalachicola, FL. Their goal was to use it as a retreat to get away from slavery as runaway slaves from other parts of the south sought shelter there.
In May of 1862, Robert Smalls stole a ship and sailed away from slavery while the original crewmembers were on shore for the evening. Wearing the captain’s hat, Smalls navigated the ship through several forts sending the proper signals to keep traveling north to freedom with his family and about 20 other slaves.