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Opponents of slavery
Slave rebellion · Slave narrative
A slave rebellion is an armed uprising by slaves. Slave rebellions have occurred in nearly all societies that practice slavery, and are amongst the most feared events for slaveholders. Famous historic slave rebellions have been led by the Roman slave Spartacus; the thrall Tunni who rebelled against the Swedish monarch Ongentheow, a rebellion that needed Danish assistance to be quelled; the poet-prophet Ali bin Muhammad, who led imported east African slaves in Iraq during the Zanj Rebellion against the Abbasid Caliphate in the ninth century; Granny Nanny of the Maroons who rebelled against the British in Jamaica; the Haitian Revolution, the only slave revolt which led to the founding of a country; Denmark Vesey in South Carolina, USA; and Madison Washington during the Creole case in 19th century America.
Ancient Sparta had a special type of serf-like helots. Their masters treated them harshly and helots often resorted to rebellions. According to Herodotus (IX, 28–29), helots were seven times as numerous as Spartans. Every autumn, according to Plutarch (Life of Lycurgus, 28, 3–7), the Spartan ephors would pro forma declare war on the helot population so that any Spartan citizen could kill a helot without fear of blood or guilt (crypteia).
In the Roman Empire, though the heterogeneous nature of the slave population worked against a strong sense of solidarity, slave revolts did occur and were severely punished. The most famous slave rebellion in Europe was led by Spartacus in Roman Italy, the Third Servile War. This was the third in a series of unrelated Servile Wars fought by slaves to the Romans.
English peasants' revolt of 1381 led to calls for the reform of feudalism in England and an increase in rights for serfs. Peasants' Revolt was one of a number of popular revolts in late medieval Europe. Richard II agreed to reforms such as fair rents and the abolition of serfdom. Following the collapse of the revolt, the king's concessions were quickly revoked, but the rebellion is significant because it marked the beginning of the end of serfdom in medieval England.
In Russia, the slaves were usually classified as kholops. A kholop's master had unlimited power over his life. Slavery remained a major institution in Russia until 1723, when Peter the Great converted the household slaves into house serfs. Russian agricultural slaves were formally converted into serfs earlier in 1679. 16th and 17th centuries runaway serfs and kholops known as Cossacks (‘outlaws’) formed autonomous communities in the southern steppes.
There were numerous rebellions against the slavery and serfdom, most often in conjunction with Cossack uprisings, such as the uprisings of Ivan Bolotnikov (1606–1607), Stenka Razin (1667–1671), Kondraty Bulavin (1707–1709), and Yemelyan Pugachev (1773–1775), often involving hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions. Between the end of the Pugachev rebellion and the beginning of the 19th century, there were hundreds of outbreaks across Russia.
South America and Caribbean
- Quilombo dos Palmares in Brazil, 1605 to 1694.
- The only slave uprising ever to be fully successful in a permanent way was the Haitian Revolution, which began in 1791 and was eventually led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, culminating in the independent black republic of Haiti.
- Panama also has an extensive history of slave rebellions going back to the 16th century. Slaves were brought to the isthmus from many regions in Africa now in modern day countries like the Congo, Senegal, Guinea, and Mozambique. Immediately before their arrival on shore, or very soon after, many enslaved Africans revolted against their captors, or participated in mass maroonage, or desertion. The freed Africans founded communities in the forests and mountains, organized guerrilla bands known as Cimarrones, and began a long guerrilla war against the Spanish Conquistadores, sometimes in conjunction with nearby indigenous communities like the Kuna and the Guaymí. Despite massacres by the Spanish, the rebels fought until the Spanish crown was forced to concede to treaties that granted the Africans a life without Spanish violence and incursions. The leaders of the guerrilla revolts included Felipillo, Bayano, Juan de Dioso, Domingo Congo, Antón Mandinga, and Luis de Mozambique.
- Tacky's War (1760)
- Suriname, constant guerrilla warfare by Maroons, in 1765-1793 by the Aluku led by Boni
- Berbice, 1763 slave revolt, led by Cuffy
- Cuba, 1795, 1798, 1802, 1805, 1812 (Aponte revolt), 1825, 1827, 1829, 1833, 1834, 1835, 1838, 1839–43, 1844 (La Escalera conspiracy and revolt)
- Curaçao, 1795 slave revolt, led by Tula
- Venezuela, José Leonardo Chirino's Insurrection 1795
- Barbados, 1816 slave revolt, led by Bussa
- Guyana, The Demerara Rebellion of 1795; Demerara rebellion of 1823
- Jamaica's Baptist War, 1831–1832, led by the Baptist preacher, Samuel Sharpe.
- Bahia Rebellion of 1835 (The Great Revolt) (Brazil).
- Bahia Rebellion of 1822-1830 (Brazil).
- Bahia Rebellion of 1835 (Brazil).
- In the British Virgin Islands, minor slave revolts occurred in 1790, 1823 and 1830.
- St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, 1733 slave insurrection on St. John, it was the first successful slave rebellion in the Western Hemisphere
Numerous black slave rebellions and insurrections took place in North America during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. There is documentary evidence of more than 250 uprisings or attempted uprisings involving ten or more slaves. Three of the best known in the United States during the 19th century are the revolts by Gabriel Prosser in Virginia in 1800, Denmark Vesey in Charleston, South Carolina in 1822, and Nat Turner in Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831.
Slave resistance in the antebellum South did not gain the attention of academic historians until the 1940s when historian Herbert Aptheker started publishing the first serious scholarly work on the subject. Aptheker stressed how rebellions were rooted in the exploitative conditions of the Southern slave system. He traversed libraries and archives throughout the South, managing to uncover roughly 250 similar instances.
The 1811 German Coast Uprising, which took place outside of New Orleans in 1811, involved up to 125 slaves. It was suppressed by volunteer militias and a detachment of the United States Army, and the heads of over sixty slaves were put on pikes along the levee.
Turner's 1831 rebellion was considered by some to be the largest slave revolt in the history of the southern United States, involving up to 75 slaves, which led to a new wave of oppressive legislation prohibiting the movement, assembly, and education of slaves.
John Brown had already fought against pro-slavery forces in Kansas for several years when he decided to lead a raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia (West Virginia was not yet a state). This raid was a joint attack by former slaves, freed blacks, and white men who had corresponded with slaves on plantations in order to form a general uprising amongst slaves. It almost succeeded, had it not been for Brown's delay, and hundreds of slaves left their plantations to join Brown's force - and others left their plantations to join Brown in an escape to the mountains. Eventually, due to a tactical error by Brown, their force was quelled. But directly following this, slave disobedience and runaways sky-rocketed in Virginia.
- Gaspar Yanga's Revolt (c. 1570) near the Mexican city of Veracruz; the group then escaped to the highlands and built a free colony
- Gloucester County, Virginia Revolt (1663)
- New York Slave Revolt of 1712
- Stono Rebellion (1739)
- New York Slave Insurrection of 1741
- Pointe Coupée Conspiracy (1795)
- Gabriel's Rebellion (1800)
- Chatham Manor Rebellion (1805)
- 1811 German Coast Uprising, (1811)
- George Boxley Rebellion (1815)
- Denmark Vesey's Uprising (1822)
- Nat Turner's slave rebellion (1831)
- Black Seminole Slave Rebellion (1835–1838) 
- Amistad Seizure (1839)
- 1842 Slave Revolt in the Cherokee Nation
- John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry (1859)
In 1808 and 1825 there were slave rebellions in the Cape Colony, newly acquired by the British. Although the slave trade was officially abolished in the British Empire by the Slave Trade Act of 1807, and slavery itself a generation later with the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, it took until 1850 to be halted in the territories which were to become South Africa. 
- Herbert Aptheker, American Negro Slave Revolts, 6. ed., New York :
International Publ., 1993 - classic
- Matt D. Childs, The 1812 Aponte Rebellion in Cuba and the Struggle Against African Slavery, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006
- David P. Geggus, ed., The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2001
- Eugene D. Genovese, From Rebellion to Revolution: Afro-American Slave Revolts in the Making of the Modern World, Louisiana State University Press 1980
- Joao Jose Reis, Slave Rebellion in Brazil: The Muslim Uprising of 1835 in Bahia (Johns Hopkins Studies in Atlantic History and Culture), Johns Hopkins Univ Press 1993
- Rodriguez, Junius P., ed. Encyclopedia of Slave Resistance and Rebellion. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2007.
- Rodriguez, Junius P., ed. Slavery in the United States: A Social, Political, and Historical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2007.
- PBS online article: New York: The Revolt of 1712
- Rebellion: John Horse and the Black Seminoles, First Black Rebels to Beat American Slavery, these maroons affiliated with Seminole Indians in Florida led a slave rebellion that would be the largest in U.S. history.
- Bahia Revolt
- Welcome to Encyclopædia Britannica's Guide to Black History
- Audio from a talk by Richard Hart (Ex-Attorney General of Grenada)on slave revolts in the Caribbean
References and notes
- Sparta - A Military City-State
- Resisting Slavery in Ancient Rome By Professor Keith Bradle
- The Sicilian Slave Wars and Spartacus
- Chronology Of Slavery
- Ways of ending slavery
- Russia before Peter the Great
- The Slave Revolts
- McGowan, Winston (2006). "The 1763 and 1823 slave rebellions". Starbroeck News. http://www.stabroeknews.com/index.pl/article?id=56501710. Retrieved December 7, 2006.[dead link]
- "A Continuity of the 19th Century Jihaad Movements of Western Sudan". "Muhammad Shareef". http://www.africanholocaust.net/news_ah/bahiaslaverevolts.html.
- Louis A. DeCaro Jr., John Brown--The Cost of Freedom: Selections from His Life & Letters (New York: International Publishers, 2007), 16.
- Hahn, Steven (2004). "The Greatest Slave Rebellion in Modern History: Southern Slaves in the American Civil War". southernspaces.org. http://southernspaces.org/2004/greatest-slave-rebellion-modern-history-southern-slaves-american-civil-war. Retrieved August 22, 2010.
- Slave Insurrections in the United States, 1800-1865 By Joseph Cephas Carroll. Page 13
- Giliomee, Hermann (2003). "The Afrikaners", Chapter 4 - Masters, Slaves and Servants, the fear of gelykstelling, Page 93,94