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Article

Aaron Myers

In the first half of the nineteenth century, thousands of African slaves were involuntarily brought from the Calabar region of southwestern Nigeria to Cuba in order to labor on the sugar plantations. In Cuba, these enslaved people reconstructed aspects of their language (Igbo) and religious rituals in Abakuás, all-male organizations with closely guarded religious, musical, and dance traditions. The prototype for Cuba's Abakuás can be found in Calabar's leopard societies, groups of highly respected, accomplished men who adopted the leopard as a symbol of masculinity. Today as in the past, Abakuás are found predominantly in the city of Havana and the province of Matanzas and are united by a common African mythology and ritual system.

Abakuás preserve African traditions through performative ceremonies a complex system of signs and narratives in the Igbo language Customarily led by four leaders and eight subordinate officers members of the Abakuás seek to protect ...

Article

Chandra M. Miller

dentist and politician, was born into slavery in North Carolina and was known as Samuel Nixon before his escape from bondage in 1855. Nothing is known about his parents. He was sold several times before being purchased by C. F. Martin, a dentist in Norfolk, Virginia. As Martin's slave, Nixon learned sufficient dentistry to serve as the doctor's assistant and to make dental house calls. He also developed bookkeeping skills and monitored the doctor's accounts.

In Norfolk, Nixon became involved with the Underground Railroad. Befriending the captains of many of the schooners sailing in and out of Norfolk, he often convinced them to hide fugitive slaves aboard ship and carry them north, usually to Philadelphia or to New Bedford, Massachusetts. After conducting many other slaves through the Underground Railroad, Nixon decided to become a passenger himself in March 1855 He and three other slaves disguised themselves and ...

Article

Pellom McDaniels

professional football player, was one of six children born to Pink Bell, a textile millworker, and Janelee Cole, a domestic worker, in Shelby, North Carolina. As a boy, Bell worked alongside his father at the textile mill in Shelby, located in rural Cleveland County, moving bolts of fabric produced from the local commodity cotton. Cleveland County was known for producing more than eighty thousand bales of cotton per year during the 1940s. It was one of the largest cotton producing mill towns in North Carolina, as well as one of the richest. Bell enjoyed sports as a child, and he became a standout athlete at nearby Cleveland High School, where he received all-state honors as quarterback. Bell's excellent football skills and standout ability on the playing field made him one of the top athletes in the nation in 1958 and 1959 which made college football coaches like ...

Article

Graham Russell Hodges and Thomas Adams Upchurch

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with black nationalism from the seventeenth century slave trade through the late nineteenth century The first article discusses the first formations of African national identities and the influence of various revolutions on black nationalism while the second focuses on the most significant figures ...

Article

Jeffrey O. Ogbar and Jeffrey O. G.

Black nationalism is the belief system that endorses the creation of a black nation state It also supports the establishment of black controlled institutions to meet the political social educational economic and spiritual needs of black people independent of nonblacks Celebration of African ancestry and territorial separatism are essential components of black nationalism Though not fully developed into a cogent system of beliefs the impulse of black nationalism finds its earliest expression in the resistance of enslaved Africans to the Atlantic slave trade from the sixteenth century Various groups of Africans who felt no particular organic connection as black people were forced into a new racialized identity in a brutal and dehumanizing process of enslavement The transportation and forced amalgamation of hundreds of different African nationalities resulted in Creolized communities in the Americas enslaved Africans revolted and established new societies which functioned autonomously on the outskirts of colonial towns and ...

Article

Kimberly Springer

educator, writer, and activist, was born Anna Julia Haywood in Raleigh, North Carolina, to Hannah Stanley, a slave. There is no consensus regarding her father, although he was most likely her mother's owner, Dr. Fabius J. Haywood, or his brother, George Washington Haywood. Anna exhibited a love of books and a gift for learning early in her childhood. Hannah was hired out as a nursemaid to a successful local lawyer, whose family most likely assisted her daughter in learning to read and write. Most important, however, was Anna's mother herself, who although illiterate, encouraged her daughter's education.

In 1867 Anna was one of the first students admitted to St Augustine s Normal School and Collegiate Institute a recently founded Episcopal school for newly freed slaves At age nine she found herself tutoring students older than herself and decided to earn her teaching credentials At St Augustine s ...

Article

Sara Kakazu

autobiographer and religious leader, was born Lucy Ann Berry in St. Louis, Missouri, to Polly Crocket Berry, who was born free in Illinois, but was kidnapped and enslaved as a child. She and her husband, whose name is not known, were enslaved by Major Taylor Berry of St. Louis and had two children, Lucy and Nancy. Delaney's early childhood was relatively happy; she was not aware of her position as a slave nor was she expected to perform any labor for her owners. Lucy Delaney's peaceful childhood was interrupted when Major Berry who had paradoxically been both a master and a friend to her father was killed in a duel After Berry s death his widow remarried and Delaney s father was sold south contrary to the Major s will This traumatic separation only increased Polly Berry s determination to escape with her daughters to freedom she ...

Article

Kevin D. Roberts

The demographics of African Americans in early America were influenced significantly by the transatlantic and domestic slave trades, the westward and southwestward expansion of slavery, and steadily improving rates of natural increase. From 1619, when the first Africans arrived in colonial America, to 1830, when the black enslaved population numbered 2 million, a significant social and cultural shift from African-dominated communities to native-born communities occurred.

In 1619 the demographic phenomenon that became black America began in Virginia when “twenty-odd Negroes” arrived on a Dutch sloop. Accorded the status of indentured servants, these Africans planted the roots that would later flower into thousands of black descendants. The first person of African descent to be born in the American colonies, a child named William, was born in 1624. By 1649 a census conducted in the colony enumerated three hundred people of African descent almost all of whom were ...

Article

Michael L. Krenn

Through the early nineteenth century the ability of African Americans to effectively participate in U.S. foreign policy was extremely limited. These limitations are easily understood, as only a small portion of the African American population was free in the years following the American Revolution, and, regardless, freedom did not translate into political rights. Without the abilities to vote or to run for and hold public office, free African Americans were unable to play a significant role in the political arena. Nevertheless, African Americans sought to have a voice in the young nation's diplomacy. Though they had little impact at the time, their efforts helped to establish the broad parameters of the African American role in American diplomacy for years to come.

The limited avenues for official participation by African Americans in U S foreign policy resulted in fairly organized private efforts at influencing the nation s diplomacy Even before the ...

Article

Sam Hitchmough

Between 1789 and 1832 there were more than twenty revolts on the island that transformed itself from French Saint Domingue, the richest colony in the world, to Haiti, the first independent black state in the Western Hemisphere, established with finality through a successful slave uprising in 1804. A fragile independence in what Frederick Douglass called the “Black Republic” again witnessed recurring upheavals, and between 1843 and 1915 the country had twenty-two heads of state, fourteen of whom were deposed by revolution.

The most significant revolt was the uprising that resulted in Haitian independence, initially led by Toussaint Louverture. Inspired by the French Revolution of 1789, all three of the main groups on the island—slaves, free blacks, and white colonists—pressed for greater autonomy. At first the colony was allowed internal selfgovernment under metropolitan supervision, but the position of blacks remained ambiguous. Vincent Ogé led a brief rebellion ...

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

Rhondda Robinson Thomas

believed to be the last fugitive slave returned to the South under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, was born Sara Lucy Bagby. Details about her ancestry, place of birth, and early years are unknown. At the time of her arrest in Cleveland, Ohio, on 19 January 1861, U.S. marshals identified Bagby as a slave of William S. Goshorn, a merchant from Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia). In 1852 Goshorn's father, John Goshorn, had purchased Bagby in Richmond, Virginia, and transported her to Wheeling. There she worked for John Goshorn until he sold her to his son William.

Bagby toiled for the Goshorns about eight years before seeking freedom. Shortly after federal marshals arrested and jailed her in Cleveland, she described her escape from slavery during an interview with a reporter from the Cleveland Morning Leader Bagby identified herself as twenty four year old ...

Article

Paul Finkelman, Peter Hinks and Sam Hitchmough

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with African American personal resistance to slavery violent or nonviolent legal or not and its repercussions The first article provides a discussion of resistance from the colonial period through 1830 while the second article provides a discussion the topic from the antebellum period ...

Article

Revolts  

Robert L. Paquette

Prospective slave rebels always confronted an imposing array of hostile forces that militated against revolt By definition slaves lived vulnerable and deracinated as outsiders or degraded beings in a highly personalized relation of domination by an allegedly all powerful other yet wherever slavery existed slaves struggled to reclaim themselves from social death by forging bonds of solidarity with fellow slaves and other disaffected people These bonds under favorable conditions could yield revolt and other forms of rebellion on a continuum of collective slave resistance Work slowdown and stoppage conspiracy demonstration and riot banditry mass flight and marronage as well as bloody revolt occurred in virtually every slave society Slaves revolted in ancient and modern civilizations in Europe Africa Asia and the Americas on plantations in mines and urban centers aboard ships and in the ranks of the military Some revolts burst forth more or less spontaneously from local conditions others ...

Article

Jesse J. Esparza and Carl E. Prince

[This entry contains two subentries dealing with African American uprisings against slavery and discrimination from 1619 to 1895 The first article provides a discussion of the causes responses and importance of race related riots from the colonial period to 1830 while the second article discusses the topic from the ...

Article

James Walvin

Slaves came to the Americas from a great variety of African backgrounds. Certain regions predominated, however, and particular ethnic, linguistic, and cultural forces were thus more apparent than others among the slaves. However, the development of slave culture in the Americas derived from much more than this heterogeneous African background. Slaves fashioned a complex cultural life based on myriad elements, including local topography, the nature of work, the languages and cultures of their white owners, and, in places, the still poorly understood relationship with local Indian peoples.

Africans were shipped into the slave colonies as individuals and not in family groups Most landed sick and near naked having endured abduction from their homes and the unspeakable torment of the Atlantic crossing While we can describe the African captives material and physical wretchedness we can only guess at their state of mind Over the long history of the Atlantic slave trade ...

Article

The struggle against slavery throughout the Americas involved different forms of rebellion. Many slaves escaped; some merged with the urban free black and colored population, while others became maroons and set up their own communities in the backlands, often in cooperation with indigenous peoples. Slaves who remained within the system worked to undermine it, through sabotage of production. At the same time they found ways of using their owners' dependence on their labor to influence their terms of work. And from time to time these slave workers, sometimes in alliance with freed people, erupted in rebellion in an effort to destroy slavery outright.

Article

For information on:

Uprisings and rebellions in Latin America: See Berbice Slave Rebellion; Maroonage in the Americas; Muslim Uprisings in Bahia, Brazil; Rethinking Palmares: Slave Rebellions in Colonial Brazil: An Interpretation; Role of Slaves in Abolition and Emancipation in Latin America and the Caribbean; Slave Rebellions in Latin America and the Caribbean; Zumbi.

Specific rebellions and black rebel leaders in the Caribbean: See Bussa's Rebellion; Cacos; Conspiración de la Escalera; Cudjoe; Dessalines; Haitian Revolution; Maceo y Grajales; Makandal; Morant Bay Rebellion; Nanny; Péralte; Sharpe; Toussaint Louverture;

Uprisings and rebellions in the United States: See Amistad Mutiny; Christiana Revolt of 1852; Cinque; Creole Affair; Denmark Vesey Conspiracy; Gabriel Prosser Conspiracy; New York Slave Conspiracy of 1741; New York Slave Rebellion of 1712; Slave ...