Slave rebellion

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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 slaveowners. Famous historic slave rebellions have been led by Denmark Vesey, the Roman slave Spartacus and the thrall Tunni who rebelled against the Swedish king Ongenŝeow, a rebellion that needed Danish assistance to be quelled.

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North America

Numerous slave rebellions, revolts, and insurrections took place in North America during the 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 are the revolts by Gabriel in Virginia in 1800, Denmark Vesey in Charleston, South Carolina in 1822, and Nat Turner at Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831.

Slave resistance in the antebellum South finally became the focus of historical scholarship in the 1940s, when historian Herbert Aptheker started publishing the first serious scholarly work on the subject. Aptheker stressed how the rebellion was 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, though none of which reached the scale of the great Nat Turner uprising.

List of North American slave revolts

South America and Caribbean

  • Quilombo dos Palmares; most famously led by Zumbi.
  • The most successful slave uprising in the Americas was that in Haiti in the 1800s led by Toussaint L'Ouverture.
  • 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 marroonage, 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 Guaymi. 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.

Europe

Probably the most famous slave rebellion in Europe was that led by Spartacus in Roman Italy.

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