Nat Turner’s Revolution
Nat Turner’s rebellion, also called the Southampton Insurrection, is probably the most famous slave uprising in North America. The revolt was brilliantly planned by Turner and took place August 1831 in Southampton County, Virginia. The Turner-led group of ”freedom fighters” killed up to 65 people of European descent, the highest number of fatalities caused by a slave uprising in the American South. Though the rebellion was quelled within a few days, Turner survived in hiding for more than two months afterward.
The most successful slave uprising in the Western Hemisphere was the Haitian Revolution, which began in 1791. Dutty Boukman, an educated enslaved African from Jamaica who was sold to a French slave master in Haiti, organized and started the revolution that was eventually led the French to banned slavery on the island. Later, military mastermind Toussaint L’Ouverture led the revolution as the France, Britain, and Spain, governments tried to colonize Haiti and re-establish slavery. During the war, which culminated in the first independent black country in 1804, 100,000 French and British soldiers were killed.
THE ZANJ REVOLT
The largest revolt by enslaved Africans was ignited by the Zanj against Arab slavers. The Zanj or Zinj were the inhabitants of the land along the coast of East Africa. They were traded as slaves by Arabs and were made to work in the cruel and humid saltpans of Shatt-al-Arab, near Basra in modern-day Iraq. Conscious of their large numbers and oppressive working conditions, the Zanj rebelled three times.
The largest of these rebellions lasted from 868 to 883 A.D., during which they inflicted repeated defeat on Arab armies sent to suppress the revolt. For some 14 years, they continued to achieve remarkable military victories and even built their own capital–Moktara, the Elect City.
New York Slave Revolt of 1712
The New York Slave Revolt of 1712 happened in New York City, when 23 enslaved Africans killed nine people of European descent and injured six more. The slaves planned and organized the revolt on the night of April 6, 1712. After setting fire to a building on Maiden Lane near Broadway, they waited for colonists to rush to put out the flames, then proceeded to attack them.
The First Maroon War
In 1739, the Jamaican Maroons were the first enslaved Africans to win their freedom from European slave masters. During the First Maroon War, they fought and escaped slavery and established free communities in the mountainous interior of the island. For 76 years, there were periodic skirmishes between the British and the Maroons, alongside occasional slave revolts.
Eventually, the British government and slave holders realized they couldn’t defeat the Maroons, so they came up with a peace treaty that allowed them to live in their own free states in Jamaica. As a result, the Maroons established their five main towns: Accompong, Trelawny Town, Moore Town, Scots Hall, and Nanny Town.
Anglo-Asante Wars (Ghana)
Nowhere in West Africa was there a longer tradition of confrontation between African and European powers than in the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), between the Asante Kingdom and the British. England’s efforts to extend its economic and political influence into the interior of the Gold Coast were met with stiff resistance from the Asante.
For nearly a hundred years (1806-1901), the Asante Kingdom defended its interests and freedom through a series of victories in battles with the British and other Europeans. The British finally defeated the Asante with superior weaponry and Nigerian warriors in Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa’s War of the Golden Stool in 1901.
This victory paved the way for British colonial rule over the entire Gold Coast, but the Queen Mother managed to keep the Golden Stool safe from the British.
The Amistad Revolt
In 1839, Africans took control of the Spanish slave boat called La Amistad while sailing along the coast of Cuba. The African captives, led by Joseph Cinque, escaped their shackles and killed many of the crew, but spared a few to sail the ship back to their home to Sierra Leone. However, the crew tricked them, sailing north where they were apprehended near Long Island, New York. After a highly publicized court trial, the African captives were released as free men.
The Malê Revolt
The Malê Revolt (1835), also known as The Great Revolt, is possibly the most significant slave rebellion in Brazil. Brazilian Yoruba slaves and ex-slaves, who were inspired by Dutty Boukman, Toussaint L’Ouverture, and the Haitian Revolution (1791−1804), wore necklaces with the image of Haitian President Dessalines as they fought for their freedom. When the smoke cleared, the Portuguese authorities feared that they would lose control of Brazil, as the French did in Haiti, and they quickly sent the surviving 500 fighters of the revolt back to Africa.
When Zanzibar was granted independence by Britain in 1963, a series of parliamentary elections reserved two-thirds of the seats for Arabs and Indians. Frustrated by under-representation in Parliament despite winning 54 percent of the vote in the July 1963 election, the mainly African Afro-Shirazi Party joined forces with the left-wing Umma Party. Early on the morning of Jan. 12, 1964, ASP member John Okello mobilized approximately 600 to 800 revolutionaries on the main island of Unguja (Zanzibar Island). They overran the country’s police force and confiscated their weaponry. The insurgents then overthrew the Sultan and his government. Reprisals against Arab and South Asian civilians on the island left a death toll ranging from several hundred to 20,000.
Sources: africanholocaust.net, wikipedia.org
The Stono Revolution, also known as Cato’s Conspiracy, was a slave revolt that began on Sept. 6, 1739, in the colony of South Carolina. Nearly 60 slaves killed 22 to 25 plantation owners before they were intercepted by the South Carolina militia near Edisto River.
In that battle, the slaves managed to put up a fierce fight, with some of them escaping. The Stono Rebellion was the largest slave uprising in the British mainland colonies prior to the American Revolution.
In 1760, Tacky, a Jamaican slave originally from Ghana, planned and organized an uprising to gain freedom from slavery. On Easter Sunday, Tacky and his army began the revolt, easily took over the plantations, and killed the slave owners.
At the end of the battle, over 60 slave plantation owners were killed before they were able to capture Tacky. However, Tacky’s War didn’t end there. The movement sparked revolutions throughout the island, and it took British forces months to re-establish order.
Battle of Isandhlawana (South Africa)
The people of South Africa have Battle of Isandhlawana (South Africa)resisted European control since the Dutch and British began invading in the 17th century. In some parts of South Africa, they fought European control until the end of the 19th century.
In spite of colonial efforts, Zululand remained free until 1880. In 1879 in a strong show of resistance, a Zulu army under the leadership of King Cetshwayo at Isandhlawana defeated a force of 8,000 European soldiers, killing 1,600. This was the single greatest defeat suffered by the British in all their colonial endeavors in Africa and Asia.
San Miguel de Gualdape
Founded in 1526, San Miguel de Gualdape was the first European settlement inside what is now the United States mainland and where some scholars speculate was near present-day Georgia’s Sapelo Island (McIntosh County, Ga.).
The first group of Africans to set foot in this territory rose up in rebellion and fought their oppressors before fleeing into the interior and presumably settled with the Native Americans. This incident is the first documented slave revolution in North America.
Demerara Revolution of 1823
The Demerara Revolution of 1823 was an uprising involving more than 10,000 slaves and took place in the former colony of Demerara-Essequibo, currently known as Guyana. On Aug. 18, 1823, Jack Gladstone and his father, Quamina, of the Success Plantation, led an army of enslaved Africans to fight against their slave masters for their freedom.
Many plantation owners and slave masters were captured and killed. The uprising had such a strong impact on the British, they pressured their country to accelerate the emancipation of African slaves after enactment of the Slave Trade Act 1807 banned the slave trade.
Battle of Adowa (Ethiopia)
Up until it was briefly held by Italy in 1931 to 1945, Ethiopia was the only African territory that resisted complete colonization by Europeans. Italy did indeed colonize part of ancient Ethiopia, the area along the Red Sea that became known as the independent country, Eritrea. However, under the leadership of Emperor Menelik II, Ethiopia resisted European attempts to colonize all of the country.
Ethiopia won a decisive victory over Italy at the Battle of Adowa in December 1895. During the battle, Menelik’s warriors attacked with a ferocity the Italians couldn’t have imagined. Taking hardly any prisoners, the victors of Battle of Adowa killed 289 Italian officers, 2,918 European soldiers and about 2,000 Askari (Africans who fought on the side of Europeans). Another 954 European troops were missing, while 470 Italians and 958 Askari were wounded. Some 700 Italians and 1,800 Askari fell into the hands of the Ethiopian troops.
1842 Slave Revolt in the Cherokee Nation
In 1842, the largest assembly of escaped enslaved Africans ripped through the Cherokee Nation, where in present day is called the midwestern United States.
November 15, 1842, a group of enslaved Blacks owned by the Cherokee Indians escaped and tried to reach Mexico–where slavery had been abolished. During their migration to Mexico, the revolutionaries had threatened the security of established labor forces. A militia was formed to capture the run-a-ways. The enslaved Blacks, who were on the run, were able to overtake members of the militia and kill them.
Even though these enslaved Africans-Americans never made it to Mexico, the revolution inspired subsequent slave rebellions throughout all of North America.
Baptist War or The Christmas Uprising
The Christmas Uprising of 1831–32, which was led by Jamaican Baptist preacher, Samuel Sharpe, was a 10-day revolt in which 60,000 of Jamaica’s 300,000 enslaved population engaged in the conflict.
During the Christmas holiday of 1831, Sharpe recited a speech to tens of thousands of his followers, persuading them to stop working unless they receive pay for the labor. When the demands weren’t met, the protest escalated into a full-scale revolt across the western part of Jamaica. The 60,000 men killed several plantation owners and burned several estates, with the Kensington estate being the most popular. The uprising caused $1,865,815.82 in damage, which equals an estimated $84,032,000 in modern terms.
Samuel Sharpe’s Baptist War was the largest uprising in British West Indies history.
Just a week after the war was over, the British Parliament began the process to abolish slavery. After months of debate, the Act for the Abolition of Slavery was passed in Jamaica in 1833.
The Mau Mau – Kenya’s Freedom Fighters
The Mau Mau rebellion was an uprising of landless, slave-wage laborers in Kenya, who were frustrated with the racist colonial system that was established by the British to steal land and resources from Blacks to give to white colonizers. It was led by leaders such as Jomo Kenyata, Dedan Kimathi, Waruhiu Itote or General China, and Tom Mboya.
The movement began with overt passive resistance in 1946, but erupted in an all out rebellion in 1952 with a force numbering roughly 30,000 to a million Kenyans, mostly from the Kikuyu ethnic group.
The Mau Mau organized a secret society and a fighting force that had to take an oath to remove British rule and European settlers from the country. Wings of the movement began armed guerrilla attacks on white settler holdings and on Africans who supported the British regime.
By late 1952, the colonial governor of Kenya declared a state of emergency, and employed brutal methods to put down the rebellion, including brutal torture tactics, lynchings, forced migrations, and detention and labor camps. Although the British quelled the uprising four years later, the seeds of Kenya’s Independence, had already been sown.
The Palmares Quilombo
During slavery in Brazil, the enslaved Africans, or Maroons, who fought and escaped captivity, formed several sustainable states called Quilombos.
The most famous Quilombo was Palmares, an independent, self-sustaining republic near Recife, which was established in 1600 and survived for 100 years. Palmares was massive, consisting of several settlements with a combined population of over 30,000 blacks who fought and escaped from slavery.
Over the course of the century, Quilombo dos Palmares had armies which rescued other enslaved Africans from the plantations and brought them to Palmares territory. The most popular Palmares warriors-leaders were Ganga Zumba and Zumbi. When the Dutch and the Portuguese repeatedly attacked the Palmares trying to enslave the Black people again, Zumba, Zumbi and the Palmares warriors killed thousands of white soldiers, defeating the Europeans several times within that century.
The St. John Insurrection
On November 23, 1733 African slave called Akwamu, of the Akan people of Ghana, led one of the longest and most costly insurrections known to have occurred on U.S. soil. The revolt took place in St. John Virgin Islands, where the Akwamus easily overwhelmed the owners and managers of the island’s plantations. They took over a crucial military fort in Coral Bay and with that they took control over most of the island.
They had an ingenious plan. With the French nearly all wiped out, they resumed crop production under their control for their benefit, for as long as a year.
In 1816, Bussa, an African-born Bajan slave, led an uprising in Barbados which is popularly known as Bussa’s Revolution.
On Easter Sunday, April 14, Bussa organized an island-wide revolt and marched his army of thousands into battle against white slave owners who occupied the island. The fighters eventually killed several plantation owners and took over half the island before the war was over.
Bussa’s Revolution was the first of three large-scale slave revolts in the British West Indies. After the war, a white plantation owner was quoted saying:
“The disposition to an enslaved persons in general is very bad. We hold the West Indies by a very precarious tenure – that of military strength only. I would not give a year’s purchase for any island we now have.”
First Battle of Dongola
After the Arab military leader ‘Amr ibn al-’As conquered Egypt from the Byzantine Empire in 640, he sent troops to North Africa and Nubia. In 642, ‘Amr ibn al-’As sent a column formation of 20,000 horsemen under the leadership of his cousin, Uqba ibn Nafi, to conquer the Nubian kingdom of Makuria. The Arabs reached as far as Dongola, the capital of Makuria, before they suffered a major defeat by Makurian warriors.
According to historian Al-Baladhuri, the Arabs found that the Nubians fought strongly and met them with showers of arrows. The majority of the Arab forces returned with wounded and blinded eyes. It was thus that the Nubians were called ‘the pupil smiters‘. Al-Baladhuri recalls one of his sources saying, ”One day they came out against us and formed a line; we wanted to use swords, but we were not able to, and they shot at us and put out eyes to the number of one hundred and fifty.”
The Nubian victory at Dongola was one of the Rashidun Caliphate’s rare defeats during the mid-7th century. Having archers with deadly marksmanship and highly skilled and experienced cavalry forces, Makuria was able to force the Arabs to withdraw their forces from Nubia.
The Black Seminole Slave Rebellion
From 1835-1838 in Florida, the Black Seminoles, African allies of Seminole Indians, led the largest slave rebellion in U.S. history.
The uprising peaked in 1836 when hundreds of enslaved Africans fled their plantations to join the rebel forces in the Second Seminole War. At the height of the revolt, at least 385 enslaved Africans fought alongside the Indian Seminole allies to destroy more than twenty-one sugar plantations in central Florida from December 25, 1835 through to the summer of 1836.
At the time, sugar was the most valuable crop and Florida was the most highly developed agricultural region in North America. The destruction of Florida plantations was reported to have cost the U.S. untold millions. In 1838, the U.S. Army allowed 500 Blacks to move west with Seminole Indians. Half received promises of freedom, the only emancipation of revolutionary Blacks in the U.S. before the Civil War.
Guinea-Bissau War of Independence
In January 1963, the Marxist African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, PAIGC, retaliated against their colonial oppressors by attacking the Portuguese headquarters in Tite. Resistance quickly spread across the entire colony, sparking the Guinea-Bissau War of Independence, a bloody conflict which would eventually be labeled “Portugal’s Vietnam”.
The war between the well-trained and well-led PAIGC guerrillas and the Portuguese Army would prove to be the most intense and damaging of all the conflicts that occurred during the Portuguese Colonial wars. Despite Portugal ratcheting up its offensive posture with troop reinforcements, superior weaponry and divide and conquer techniques, the PAIGC continued to increase its strength and dealt several severe blows to the Portuguese defense forces.
A coup in Portugal on August 26, 1974, also helped the PAIGC’s fight for independence. On August 26, 1974, the new Portuguese leaders and the PAIGC signed an accord in Algeria, in which Portugal agreed to remove all troops by the end of October and to officially recognize the PAIGC controlled government of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.
Courland Bay Revolt
In the 15-day Courland Bay revolt, which took place in Tobago, W.I., enslaved African, Sandy, organized forty men and led them in an uprising against slave plantation owners, their estates, and the island’s military.
After Sandy killed the owner of the plantation where he worked, he and his men burned several estates killing many plantation owners and burned cane fields as they marched their way to attack the Courland Bay military post. The whites at the post couldn’t contain the revolutionaries, and days later had to call in reinforcement from Barbados. Sandy and his army eventually fled the island to nearby Trinidad, where they escaped to the interior of the island.
After the revolt, plantation owners were highly fearful of a further insurrection. They were particularly concerned because of the high number of enslaved Africans in comparison to the white population. They were correct in their assessment because several other uprisings followed the Courland Bay revolt.