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Slave Uprisings in Black History (US)

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  • Dred Scott, famous slave (1799 - 1858)
    From "Dred Scott's fight for freedom, 1846 - 1857" Dred Scott first went to trial to sue for his freedom in 1847. Ten years later, after a decade of appeals and court reversals, his case wa...
  • Frederick Douglass (c.1817 - 1895)
    Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, February 1818 – February 20, 1895) was an American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a...
  • John Brown (Abolitionist) (1800 - 1859)
    John Brown (May 9, 1800 – December 2, 1859) was an American abolitionist who advocated and practiced armed insurrection as a means to end all slavery. He led the Pottawatomie Massacre in 1856 in Bleedi...
  • Lewis Sheridan Leary (1835 - 1859)
    Lewis Sheridan “Shad” Leary accompanied John Brown on the raid of the Harpers Ferry arsenal (October 1859), where he was killed during the gun fight with federal troops. Leary was said to be handsome a...
  • Dangerfield Newby (1815 - 1859)
    Dangerfield Newby (1815 – 1859) was the oldest of John Brown's raiders, one of five black raiders, and the first of his men to die at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Born a slave in Fauquier County, Virgini...

Early Black History to the Civil War

The struggle's of Black People (the New Afrikan Nation) in North Amerika: Black People's History and How the United States of America won its Independence from Britain (and the British empire). "Every organized rebellion, even when thwarted by the whites and their offspring, struck fear into the whites and continued to set the stage for (their) ultimate freedom through warfare." (Kwesi Akhan).


"In America our people revolted often. Some of us successfully reached Spanish Florida and there built new states--first, at Santa Teresa de Muse; then along the Apalachicola River, and finally We built the New Afrikan-Indian state known as the Seminole Nation. Each of these small states fought for their freedom against the United States, though finally losing. Some Seminoles never surrendered." (Obadele, 1997, p. 67).

Late 1586 - New Afrikans revolted in Spanish territory in what is now South Carolina. They fled and went to live with Native Indians.

  • By 1600, there were more than half a million slaves in the Western Hemisphere.

1619, latter end of Aug. - In Colonial America the first 30-something Blacks landed at Jamestown, Va. They were accorded the status of indentured servants. (see The First Black Americans: A group of enslaved Africans changed Jamestown and the future of a nation).

1624 - First black child born in English America christened William in the Church of England at Jamestown.

1641 - Massachusetts became the first colony to give statutory recognition to slavery. Other colonies followed: Connecticut, 1650; Virginia, 1661; Maryland, 1663; New York and New Jersey, 1664; South Carolina, 1682; Rhode Island and Pensylvania, 1700; North Carolina, 1715; Georgia, 1750.

1644, Feb. - First black legal protest in America pressed by 11 blacks who petitioned for freedom in New Netherland (New York). Council of New Netherlands freed the 11 petitioners because they had "served the Company seventeen or eighteen years" and had been "long since promised their freedom on the same footing as other free people in New Netherlands."

1649 - Colonial officials reported there there were in Virginia about 15,000 English, and "of negroes brought thither, three hundred good servants."

1654 - The Dutch were still active participants in the slave trade when they lost control of Brazil. Now they directed their attention to the colony of New Netherland. The colony already had black slaves; these had generally come by way of the Caribbean Islands.

1655 - The First Slave Auction at New Amsterdam. American illustrator Howard Pyle, illustrator of many historical and adventure stories for periodicals, created this depiction of a slave auction in New Amsterdam (later to be renamed New York). New Amsterdam, a town on the tip of Manhattan Island within the Dutch colony of New Netherland, saw a sudden influx of African slave labor in 1655. The Dutch had been involved with the African slave trade for some time, having seized Portugal's Elmina Castle along the West African coast about two decades earlier. Soon after gaining control of the slave factory they were shipping 2,500 slaves across the Atlantic each year. Many of these slaves were sent to Brazil, another territory the Dutch had seized from Portugal. But this control of Brazil was short-lived. In 1655, the first large shipment of slaves directly from Africa arrived at New Amsterdam.

By 1660, Blacks had become a group apart, separated from the rest of the population by custom and law. "Starting in the Chesapeake region and continuing through the first decades of the 18th century, slave codes were promulgated by legislatures throughout the colonies. They tried to solidify the distiction between slave and free. Simultaneously they placed limits on the free Black populations of most colonies, thus further identifying slavery and blackness. Among the besetting fears of the White majority (or minority in the case of South Carolina) was servile insurrection: the Whites were, after all, holding their fellow humans in bondage. Many of the laws were designed to keep the slave and free Black population under surveillance with the idea of preventing revolts." (Spickard, p. 238). (Also Friedman, Crime and Punishment, p.7).

In 1664 the English seized New Netherland, including the town of New Amsterdam. They renamed the colony New York. At the time there were roughly 500 Dutch-speaking blacks in the colony.

1676 - A huge slave rebellion in Virginia. Black and white slaves burned Jamestown to the ground. Hundreds died.

1691 - A slave named Mingoe, who had fled his master in Middlesex County, Virginia, gathered a large number of followers and ravaged plantations, particularly in Rappahannock County. These Negroes not only took cattle and hogs, but “two guns, a Carbyne & other things.” What became of this incident of rebellion in not recorded. (MS. Order Book, Middlesex County, 1680-1694, pp. 526-27.) Mingoe the revolutionary who and a comrade led rebellious raid on plantations in Middlesex and Rappahannock counties in Virginia. (There were several other Virginia Rebellions. There were recorded 84 rebellions in that colony making it the land of rebellion during slavery).

1709, Mar. 21 - Virginia Lt. Gov. issues a proclamation to prevent assemblage of slaves for fear of conspiracy to rebel. Mar. 24 - Virginia court reveals conspiracy of Afrikans and Indians to escape slavery.

1712, Apr. 7 - Caromantees [Ashanti/Fantee] Revolt in New York; seized guns, swords and hatchets and began setting fires and killing slavemasters. Kwako, one of the leaders, and twenty others were broken on the whell and burnt at a slow fire.

1723, May 17 - Seven slaves sentenced to sale and removal from Virginia colony for conspiring to revolt. July 4 - Afrikan slave executed in Boston for setting fire to owner's house.

1729, June 29 - Virginia Governor reports attack by whites on Maroon settlement in Blue Ridge Mountains.

1730, Aug. 15 - Slave conspiracy discovered in Charleston, SC.

1738, May 5 - Slaves escape from SC jail and join with others to begin a small-scale guerrilla war.

1739, Jan. 30 - Letter of South Carolina Council describes plan of 200 slaves to capture capitol and establish their own government.

1741, Mar. 18 - "Great Negro Plot" discovered in New York; Blacks planned to set city afire and kill all whites. 18 Blacks hanged and 71 shipped to Caribbean.

1759 - The Albany (NY) Convention: The meeting of six colonial governors and six Indian "national presidents" of the Iroquois Confederation (Iroquoian nation-states, including Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onandaga, Mohawk, and Tuscarora who "re-joined" them after 1712). Benjamin Franklin was one of the organizers of this meeting. (The Cherokee and Tuscarora considered themselves to be in amity with the U.S. later).

1770, March 5th - Crispus Attucks (Natick language for "deer"), a Boston New Afrikan, and four others were killed by British 29th Regiment in Boston, Mass. He was perhaps the first to die for freedom.


1775, Apr. 18 - Paul Revere and William Dawes, on the night of April 18 on horseback alerted Samuel Adams (Crispus Attucks' mentor) and John Hancock at Lexington and others that 700 British were on their way to Concord to destroy arms.

April 19th - At Lexington, Minutemen lost 8 killed, 10 wounded. On return from Concord, the harassed British lost 273.

May 1 - Birth of Gabriel Prosser.

May 10 - Col. Ethan Allen (joined by Col. Benedict Arnold) captured Ft. Ticonderoga; also Crown Point.

June - Lord Dunmore's Proclamation in which he stated that slaves would gain freedom if they'd bear arms for the British. Lord Dunmore's Royal Ethiopian Regiment fought to maintain Britain's control over its rebellious colonies. It was the only way they had to gain their freedom. According to an estimate by Thomas Jefferson, more than 30,000 Virginia slaves ran away in 1778 alone, presumably to enlist.

June 15 - British named George Washington commander-in-chief.

June 17 - Colonials headed for Bunker Hill, fortified Breed's Hill, Charlestown, repulsed British under Gen. William Howe twice before retreating; British casualties 1,000; called Battle of Bunker Hill.

July 8 - Exposure of conspiracy among slaves in North Carolina who aimed to establish their own government.

By 1776, some 500,000 Blacks were held in slavery and indentured servitude in the U.S. Nearly one of every six persons in the counrty was a slave.

By the end of the war, about 5,000 Blacks had been in the ranks of the Continental Army. Those who had been slaves became free. 1783 - The Treaty of Paris.


1790 - The New Afrikan population numbered slightly more than 750,000. The vast majority, almost 89 percent, lived in the South Atlantic States, where the plantation system was making the greatest demands for Black labor. The states of Maryland (111,000) and Virginia (305,400) had the largest concentration of enslaved Afrikans in the U.S. Virginia's Blacks were almost three times the number in South Carolina.

1790 ? - Birth of Abraham in Pensacola, Florida.

1791 - Mina Rebellion or Conspiracy in Pointe Coupee, Louisiana. Months prior to the Haitian Revolution, Africans of Akan, Ga, Adangbe, Ewe and other ethnicities organized to kill their so-called slavers and free themselves.

  • 1791, Aug. 22 - Beginning of Haitian Revolution.

1792, July 9 - Three Afrikans executed for attacking Virginia slave patrol. Georgia and South Carolina runaways mixed with Creeks to form the Seminole tribe. Other runaways were held by the Cherokee as slaves. (Spickard, p. 246).

1795 - An organized rebellion in Louisiana.

1799 or 1800, May 9 - Birth of John Brown.

Aug. 30 - Planned rebellion and establishment of Black state by General Gabriel Prosser and 40,000 slaves foiled by storm, Richmond, Va.

1802, Feb. 12 - Two slaves executed for alleged involvement in conspiracy to rebel in Brunswick, Va.

1804, Jan. 5 - Ohio is the first of the Northern states to pass Black Laws.

1808 - Congress was prohibited from restricting the slave trade until after this year, and the free states were required to return fugitive slaves to their Southern owners.

1811, Jan. 8 - on the night of January 8, 1811, more than 500 enslaved people revolt in Louisiana (see ) took up arms in one of the largest slave rebellions in U.S. history. They carried cane knives (used to harvest sugar cane), hoes, clubs and some guns as they marched toward New Orleans chanting “Freedom or Death,” writes Leon A. Waters for the Zinn Education Project. The uprising began on the grounds of a plantation owned by Manuel Andry on the east side of the Mississippi, in a region called the German Coast of Louisiana. There, a slave driver named Charles Deslondes of Haitian decscent, led a small band of slaves into the mansion of the plantation owners, where they wounded Andry and killed his son Gilbert. The group then armed themselves with muskets and ammunition from the plantation's basement. Some donned Andry’s militia uniforms.

1812, May 6 - Birth of Martin R. Delany, Charlestown, Va.

1814 - Free Blacks assist whites in the defense of the city of Washington against the invasion of the British.

  • 1816 - Paul Cuffee, Black philantropist and owner of a fleet of ships, transported a group of Blacks to a new home in Sierra Leone.

1816, July - Andrew Jackson attacks Apalachicola Fort or Fort Negro. A cannon shot is fired hitting the fort's ammunition magazine killing all but 60 of the 300-plus occupants. He orders two executed, a Black and an Indian.

1816, July 27 - Fort Blocont attacked by U.S. troops; 300 Afrikans and 20 Indians captured.

1818, Apr. 18 - Andrew Jackson suppresses Afrikans and Indians at Suwanee, ending First Seminole War.

1822, May 30 - House negro betrays Denmark Vesey and 1,000 ? slaves, Charleston, SC; 37 hanged, 131 Blacks, 4 whites arrested.

July 2 - General Denmark Vesey hanged.

July 19 - Several armed Maroons captured and hanged, Jacksonville, SC.

1825, June 25 - Capture of Bob Ferebee, leader of Maroons in Virginia.


1829, Aug. 10 - Rebellion in Cincinnati's "Little Africa," Ohio; white residents invaded black community, killed Blacks, burned their property, and ultimately drove half the New Afrikan population from the city. 1,000 Blacks leave for Canada.

1830 - Many took direct action to help slaves escape through the Underground Railroad (UGRR). Some few called for, but made no effort to organize, slave rebellions and mass violence.

1830's - The Cherokee's slaves made the trip with their Indian masters along the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma. (Spickard, p. 246).

1830, June 28 - David Walker murdered, found on doorstep.

1831, Aug. 21 - Beginning of Nat Turner Revolt; 60 whites killed.

1834 - The Philadelphia Passover Riots.

1839, Feb. 25 - Seminoles and Afrikans shipped from Tampa Bay, Fla., to the West.

In the 1840's, newly freed mulattoes were seldom allowed to remain in the southern states; some went across the Ohio River, where small colonies of ex-slaves flourished beginning at this time. (Spickard, p. 249).

1842, Aug. 11 - Birth of Robert Brown Elliot.

1843, Aug. 22 - Henry Highland Garnet makes speech in Buffalo, NY, and calls for slave revolt and general strike.

1847, June 30 - The Dred Scott case began in St. Louis court.


1850 - The Compromise of 1850 settled no basic issues.

1851, Feb. 15 - Afrikans invade a Boston courtroom and free a fugitive slave.

1854 - The Kansas-Nebraska Act settled no basic issues. About 1856, Martin R. Delany, Black editor and physician urged Blacks to settle elsewhere.

1857 - The Dred Scott case confirmed Blacks in their understanding that they were not "citizens" and thus not entitled to the Constititutional safeguards enjoyed by other Americans.

1859, Oct. 16 - Osborne Perry Anderson, Dangerfield Newby, Sheilds Green, Lewis Sheridan Leary, John Anthony Copeland, and others in Virginia with General John Brown's raid on the arsenal at Harper's Ferry, fought and gave their lives trying to seize land and establish New Afrikan states. (Of the five Black revolutionaries, Leary and Newby were killed; Copeland and Green were hanged; and only Osborne Perry Anderson escaped and survived the failed mission, and later rendered the most accurate and passionate account of the raid). (see also Franklin and Moss, p. 179). Dec. 2 - General John Brown was hanged, but not before he had dazzled the country by his words and his conduct after the trial.


1860-65 - The War Between the Union North and the separatist Confederate South: A total of more than 186,000 New Afrikans served with Union combat forces by the end of the war: "From the seceded states came 93,000, and from the border slave states, 40,000. The remainder, approximately 53,000, were from free states. It is possible that the total figure was larger, for some contemporaries insisted that many mulattoes served in white regiments without being designated as Negroes." New Afrikans saw action in every theater of operation during the Civil War. General Harriet Tubman was a spy for Union troops at many points on the eastern seaboard. (Franklin and Moss, pp. 195, 196, 197).

1861, Aug, 6 - The first mass "manumission" of Afrikans in the u.s. occurred, with the enactment of the Confiscation Act.

Aug. 30 - Major General John C. Fremont issues proclamation freeing slaves of Missouri rebels (St. Louis, MO); Lincoln nullifies it.

1862 - Violent rioting occurred in Cincinnati, when Black and Irish hands competed for work on the riverboats. Lesser riots took place in Newark, NJ, and Buffalo and Troy, NY, the result of combined hostility to the war and fear that Blacks would take white jobs.

1862 - Slavery in the District of Columbia is abolished; 3,100 enslaved persons held by District residents are emancipated.

1862, May 9 - General David Hunter issues proclamation freeing slaves in Ga, Fla., and SC; Lincoln revoked it.

July 16 - Birth of Ida B. Wells.

July 17 - The mass recognition of the Afrikan's inherent freedom was followed by another Confiscation Act.

Aug. 14 - Lincoln meets with Black representatives and urges emigration to Afrika or Central America.

Late 1862 - Not until a shortage of troops plagued the Union Army, were segregated units of "United States Colored Troops" (USCT) formed.

1862 - President Davis ordered that all Black slaves captured in arms were to be delivered to the state from which they came, to be dealt with according to state laws. Union officials insisted that captured Blacks should be treated as prisoners of war, but the Confederates did not accept that point of view until 1864. (Franklin and Moss, p. 197).

1863 - The spark that lit the Detroit Riot was the rape of Ellen Hover, a Black female, by Thomas Faulkner, a White male. Yet soon white mobs rampaged through Black neighborhoods, stoning, burning, and dismembering dozens of Black people. A particular target of these mobs was a small number of white women married to Black men. (Spickard, p. 247).

1863 - [ General Benjamin Franklin Butler] reported that 3,000 New Afrikan troops were prisoners of the Confederates. (Franklin and Moss, p. 197).

1863, Jan. - The Emancipation Proclamation freed all Afrikans who were still held as slaves in those areas of the imperialist state which sought to establish their independence from the u.s. empire (the Confederate States); just a few at first were freed, but had immediate significance as a symbol.

May 1 - Confederate Congress passed resolution branding Afrikan troops and officers in Union Army criminals, dooming them to death or slavery if captured.

July 13 - The most violent of the troubles, "the New York City Draft Riots," when white workers, mainly Irish-born, embarked on a three-day rampage. Federal troops restored order. But 34 Afrikans were murdered, shot, stoned, hanged from lamp posts, homes burned, etc. 4 whites reported dead, and over 200 people injured. General Sheridan later said, "at least nine-tenths of the casualties were perpetrated by the police and citizens by stabbing and smashing in the heads of many who had already been wounded or killed by was not just a riot but an absolute massacre by the police...a murder which the mayor and police...perpetrated without the shadow of necessity."

1864 -

1865 -

Links and References

This Week in Black History, Jet, July 22, 1976, p. 10.