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Alonford James Robinson

The debate over slavery in America was already filled with acrimony and violence when Anthony Burns, a black fugitive slave, was arrested in Boston, Massachusetts, for violating the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Just four years after the controversial law was passed, the Burns case, as it is known, sparked outrage among abolitionists throughout New England.

After being arrested in May 1854 Burns was placed in leg irons, as authorities prepared to return him to servitude in Richmond, Virginia. His arrest, however, galvanized New England abolitionists already opposed to the Fugitive Slave Act. Two days after Burns was imprisoned, abolitionists stormed the courthouse in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue the former slave forcibly, and a deputy was killed.

Fearing more violence federal officials sent armed military troops to defend the courthouse while Burns was ordered returned to his owner in Virginia When the day came to send ...

Article

Trevor Hall

who defended Native American rights and promoted African slavery, only to later condemn it, was born in Seville, Spain. His father, Pedro de Las Casas, had sailed to the Americas as a merchant on Christopher Columbus’s second voyage. He was educated in law at the University of Salamanca. Las Casas is renowned because he recommended that the Spanish king purchase enslaved Africans from Portuguese merchants and ship them from Portuguese colonies in West Africa directly to the Spanish Caribbean. In 1493 Las Casas was living in Seville, where he witnessed the arrival of Columbus following his maiden voyage to the Americas. Columbus brought a number of exotic, colorful tropical birds and a dozen half-naked Native Americans back with him. To fifteenth-century Spaniards, half-naked people were savages. The experience has a profound effect on the young Spaniard.

In 1502 Las Casas boarded an armada that sailed from Spain to Hispaniola ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

minister and blacksmith, was born in Leonardtown, Maryland, the son of Jane and Thomas Henry, slaves of Richard Barnes, the largest slave owner in the district. It is thought that Henry's maternal grandmother, Catherine Hill, had been purchased by the Barnes family on a return trip from England and the Caribbean. Thomas's parents were domestic servants of the Barnes family, which owned tobacco plantations and other business interests. Before his death in 1804, Richard Barnes had stated in his will that his slaves were to be freed; one unusual stipulation he added that suggests a special closeness with these individuals was that the manumitted slaves take the name Barnes.

Thomas, however, did not gain his freedom until almost twenty years after his master's death, because John Thomson Mason a nephew of Richard Barnes and the executor of his estate exploited a growing number of ...

Article

Charles P. Toombs

and prototype for the title character in Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852). Josiah Henson was born a slave in Charles County, Maryland, on 15 June 1789. The details of his life are recorded in The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself (1849). As a very young child Henson states that he was largely unaware that his life was in any way remarkable. It was not until the death of his master, Dr. McPherson and the sale of his mother and siblings that the real horrors and anxieties of slave life impressed him After his family is sold he recalls earlier times when his mother was sexually assaulted and his father was mutilated In spite of the cruel treatment his mother received at the hands of so called Christians she taught him ...

Article

Peter Hudson

Josiah Henson was originally thought to be the model for Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin. He was born into slavery in Charles County, Maryland, but showed such loyalty and devotion that his owner, Isaac Riley, granted him exceptional privileges and responsibilities, and allowed him to work as a Methodist Episcopal preacher. Through his meager salary as a preacher, Henson was able to save almost $300, which he hoped would buy his freedom. Riley agreed with Henson on a price of $450, but knowing that Henson was illiterate, Riley changed the contract to $1,000 and then made plans to sell him. Henson learned of these betrayals and fearing forced separation from his family decided to escape to Canada, settling in Dresden, Canada West (Ontario).

Henson became a British patriot while in Canada and led a volunteer brigade against William Lyon Mackenzie and the Americans ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

slave revolt leader in Saint-Domingue (Hispaniola), was born sometime in the early eighteenth century in Africa. Some specialists believe he came from a Muslim community somewhere in West Africa, because he sometimes made references to Allah. However, others have suggested that his name might originally come from a Kongo word for talismans or amulets, makwonda. To make matters more complicated, Makandal probably developed his esoteric spiritual practices in part from traditions he encountered after he was transported to the French colony of Haiti (known as Saint-Domingue before the Haitian Revolution).

Whatever his origins Makandal suffered like so many slaves on the island He was assigned to process sugar on a plantation slaves boiled down sugar cane in infernally hot mills Makandal lost an arm in an industrial accident at the plantation of Le Normand de Mézy in the northern Haitian district of Limbe parish Since he could no longer ...

Article

Paulette Poujol-Oriol

Though little is known about Makandal's early life and much of the information about him is shrouded in myth, this famous maroon has become a legendary figure. Most prominent historians do not mention him, but he has become a symbol of Haitian national identity, and all schoolchildren in Haiti learn about his life.

Makandal is said to have come to the French-ruled colony of Saint Domingue (now Haiti) around 1750. Slave traders had bought him on the coast of Guinea, in Africa, and he was taken to the colony, where he worked as a field hand.

According to accounts of his life, Makandal did not submit to slavery for very long. He soon escaped to the woods, becoming a maroon a fugitive slave Prizes were offered for his capture but he escaped all ambushes It is also said that Makandal was a learned man that he ...

Article

Nanny  

Nanny was said to have used supernatural powers in battles against the British. She was killed by a slave named Cuffe in 1733.

See also Jamaica; Maroonage in the Americas; Nanny Town.

Article

Nathaniel Millett

conjurer and slave rebel, was born in East Africa during the final quarter of the eighteenth century. He was a native of the country of “M'Choolay Morcema” (possibly modern Mozambique), from which he was captured, taken to Zanzibar, and sold to Zephaniah Kingsley in 1805. At the time of his enslavement, he possessed a bag of conjuring implements and had been a “priest” in his homeland. Jack may have initially gone to Kingsley's plantation in East Florida but was purchased by the wealthy Charleston shipbuilder, Paul Pritchard, in April 1806 and worked on the docks as a joiner and caulker.

Jack s position as an urban and skilled slave allowed him a number of relative luxuries in a city and society that were dominated by slavery Jack who was single lived by himself off of his master s property and received permission to hire out his time ...