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Mark Harris

Afro-Amazonian leader of a band of five hundred slaves during the Cabanagem, an antigovernment rebellion that took place in the Brazilian north between 1835 and 1840, was probably a slave from a plantation in the rural vicinity of Belém. He was executed by firing squad in front of the palace of governors in Belém, the regional capital of the province of Pará. The order to kill Joaquim was made by Eduardo Angelim, the third and most significant rebel provincial president. Angelim punished Joaquim for being the leader of the group, and for allegedly killing slave owners and looting property. The president by popular acclamation wanted to demonstrate his authority to a recently liberated city.

Aside from the details drawn from charges that led to the execution order little is known about Joaquim s life We know only that he was an officer in a rebel militia and proclaimed the ...

Article

Jane G. Landers

former slave who became one of the leaders of the 1791 slave revolt on Saint-Domingue, was born on that French Caribbean island in the late eighteenth century. Biassou’s African-born mother, Diana, was a slave in Providence Hospital, affiliated with the Fathers of Charity, in the capital city of Cap-Français. Nothing is known of his father, Carlos. As an adult, Biassou served as a slave driver on a sugar estate owned by the Jesuit order in Haut de Cap. On 14 August 1791 Biassou joined other slave drivers at the Lenormand de Mézy plantation to plan the revolt that changed history. On 22 August 1791 several thousand slaves across the island’s northern plain set fire to the cane fields and great houses, and smashed the sugar-refining equipment on more than thousand plantations.

After the revolt s leader Boukman Dutty was killed Biassou assumed command of the slave armies sharing leadership with ...

Article

Ángela Lucía Agudelo González

and possible founder of San Basilio de Palenque, the first free black town in the Western Hemisphere, was born in West Africa on the island of Bissagos in Guinea-Bissau. In 1596 he was captured by the Portuguese slave trader Pedro Goméz Reynel and was sold later on to a Spaniard by the name of Alfonso del Campo at Cartagena de Indias, a major slave-trading port on the Caribbean coast of the New Kingdom of Granada. Campo baptized him with the Christian name Domingo Biohó and employed him as a rower on a boat on the Magdalena River.

After trying various times to escape from his master, in 1599 Benkos managed to escape with a group of other slaves, his wife, and his children. Together they fled the city of Cartagena and installed themselves in swampy, difficult-to-access lands. It was there that they founded the continent’s first palenque maroon community ...

Article

Bussa  

Curtis Jacobs

a central figure in Barbados’s April 1816 slave revolt, was also known as Busso or Bussoe. It is the only time in Barbados’s history that slave resistance came to the point of overt collective violence.

Previous attempts at rebellion after the establishment of the permanent European presence in 1627 were thwarted in 1649, 1675, and 1692. After the first instance, the Barbadian planter class developed a military infrastructure to address any future internal threat to its existence.

After 1750, most of the enslaved population was born locally, as Barbados became a net exporter of enslaved Africans. By 1800 those born in Barbados composed approximately 93 percent of the enslaved and, as they were relatively inured to European culture, many learned to read. Newspapers informed them about developments in the rest of the world, including the Haitian Revolution and the “Brigands” War (1794–1798 in the ...

Article

Cudjoe  

Alonford James Robinson

The life and death of the Jamaican maroon (fugitive slave), Cudjoe, has become a symbol of black resistance in Jamaica. Cudjoe's story as the eighteenth century leader of the Clarendon maroons has also been a contested part of Jamaican history. Early European descriptions painted a caricatured portrait of him, while black recollections portrayed him as a fearless soldier.

Cudjoe was among more than 500 African-born slaves in the Jamaican parish of St. Clarendon who escaped after a violent insurrection in 1690. Cudjoe emerged as leader of a loose confederation of runaway slaves who lived in the Clarendon hills. The Clarendon maroons, led by Cudjoe, organized themselves into small gangs that secretly wandered into white towns to steal food and weapons.

Even though the Clarendon maroons were disunited they became skilled soldiers and expert marksmen Under Cudjoe s leadership they defended their freedom in a series of small skirmishes ...

Article

Kofi  

Jeremy Rich

anticolonial slave rebel leader, was born somewhere in southern Ghana sometime during the early eighteenth century. His name was extremely common in Akan-speaking communities such as the kingdom of Asante. Kofi was shipped from his homeland across the Atlantic and eventually made his way to the Dutch colony of Guyana. Kofi was said to have been a domestic servant. He worked with Accara and several other men to organize a major revolt along the Kanje River. On 23 February 1763 slaves rose up and burned plantations beginning at the Magdalenenburg settlement They also killed over thirty white settlers A yellow fever epidemic scoured the colony and provided Kofi with the perfect opportunity to launch the attack The goal of the rebels was to flee from the colony A small military expedition ordered by the Guyanese colony s governor Van Hogenheim failed utterly to curb the rebels Settlers from the ...

Article

Kofi  

Kofi worked as a cooper, making and repairing wooden casks on a plantation on the Berbice River. He emerged as leader of one faction of the Berbice slaves who rose up in rebellion in 1763 The rebels successfully held most of the territory of Berbice for ten months After ...

Article

Little is known about the birth and death of Luiza Mahin. She was an African belonging to the Nagô people who settled in West Africa, in the region of present-day Ghana. Mahin came to Brazil as a slave and became famous for her courage and leadership during several slave uprisings, including the Maleös insurrection that occurred in Bahia in 1835.

After gaining her freedom, Mahin worked as a fruit and vegetable vendor on the streets of Salvador City. She was the mother of Luíz Gama, an important Brazilian abolitionist. Gama never revealed the identity of his father, who was a white Brazilian from a wealthy Portuguese family.

The disappearance of Luiza Mahin, a few years after the Malês revolt, which was fiercely repressed by the government, is a matter of controversy. Whether she escaped and fled to Rio de Janeiro or was sent there and then ...

Article

Samuel Sharpe was born a slave in Jamaica, probably in the northwestern parish of Saint James. Sharpe worked as a domestic slave in Montego Bay, the island's second largest town after Kingston. Literate and intelligent, he was also a passionate and charismatic speaker. He gained prominence working in the Montego Bay Baptist Church, run by British missionaries, where his duties included helping missionary Thomas Burchell with the supervision of membership classes. At the same time, Sharpe preached at the independent black-led Native Baptist Church, where he gained the titles “Daddy” or “Ruler.” The Native Baptist movement was established in the late 1700s by blacks who came to Jamaica from the United States.

Sharpe drew upon the Bible to argue that slavery was morally wrong He also helped spread the widely held view among slaves who overheard planters frequent complaints about the abolitionist movement in Britain that the British Parliament ...

Article

Aaron Myers

In the first half of the nineteenth century, the northeastern region of Brazil experienced a large number of slave revolts. Historians attribute the high incidence of slave rebellions at this time to the growth of the Sugar industry, the intensified importation of African slaves, the fact that many of these slaves shared a common language and culture, and the increasing demands made of slave labor, among other factors. These conditions encouraged many slaves to run away and form isolated communities known as quilombos. Alone or in cooperation with the free black or enslaved populations, quilombo members planned and carried out rebellions against the slaveholding society. The insurrection led by Zeferina in December 1826 was just one of some twenty revolts that occurred in the northeastern state of Bahia between 1807 and 1835.

Zeferina was a member of the Urubu (Vulture) quilombo located just outside of Bahia's capital, Salvador ...