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Biassou, Jorge  

Jane G. Landers

Haitian revolutionary, was born a slave in Cap Français (or Guarico, in Spanish), on the northern coast of Saint Domingue, in modern Haiti. Spanish documents give his parents' names as Carlos and Diana, and Biassou and his mother were the slaves of the Holy Fathers of Charity in Cap Français, where Biassou's mother worked in the Hospital of the Holy Fathers of Charity, probably as a laundress or cook. Biassou's father's owner and occupation are unknown.

In 1791 Biassou joined Boukman Dutty, a slave driver and coachman considered by the slaves to be a religious leader, and Jean‐François, also a slave from the Northern Plains of Saint Domingue, in leading the largest slave revolt in the Western Hemisphere on–the richest sugar colony of its day, French Saint Domingue. Boukman was killed in November of 1791 only three months into the revolt and Biassou and Jean François assumed command ...


Deslandes (Deslondes), Charles  

Rhae Lynn Barnes

leader of the largest slave revolt in U.S. history, has largely evaded the scrutiny of historians. Most studies have suggested that he was a free man of color born in Saint-Domingue who was part of the large 1809 immigration to Louisiana from that colony. An as yet unpublished work by the scholar Gwendolyn Midlo Hall suggests however that Deslondes (sometimes spelled Deslandes) was a Louisiana-born slave.

Whatever his origins, it is clear that in 1811, Charles Deslondes was the leader of the revolt known as the German Coast Uprising or the Deslondes Uprising, which occurred along the eastern bank of the Mississippi River in Louisiana. On the evening of 8 January 1811 at the age of thirty one Deslondes led a band of rebels downriver on River Road They began in modern day Norco and continued through the parishes of St Charles and St John the Baptist ...


Henry, Thomas W.  

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 ...


Mamluk State  

Leyla Keough

As early as the eighth century, Turks from central Asia were recruited to serve in armies of the Middle East and North Africa. The Islamic rulers of these lands took recruits from afar so that local ties would not compromise their loyalty. These soldiers, who underwent rigorous training, came to be called Mamluks, meaning “one who is owned” in Arabic. The Mamluks had great influence in the empires they served and often rose to the highest ranks, numbering among the closest advisers of the sultans. But strict rules prevented them from passing their position or their property to heirs—another attempt to assure undivided loyalty to their empires.

Nevertheless, these rules failed to produce the intended subservience among Mamluks serving as emirs, or commanders, for the Ayyubid sultan al-Malik al-Salih Ayyub. Ayyub ruled Egypt and Syria from 1240 to 1249 . When he died in 1249 the Mamluks of his ...


Maroonage in the Americas  

Aaron Myers

From the beginning of slavery in the Americas in the sixteenth century through abolition in the nineteenth century, male and female slaves escaped from plantations and established semi-independent, self-governing communities. These communities were often located in inaccessible areas, such as forests, swamps, and mountains. They were known variously as palenques, quilombos, mocambos, cumbes, mambises, ladeiras, and maroons. Over time the term maroon—derived from the Spanish cimarrón, which, in turn, is based on a Taíno word meaning “fugitive”—became the standard word for an individual escaped slave or a community of escaped slaves. The phenomenon of escaped slaves forming communities, known as maroonage, represented a common response to slavery throughout the Americas. Maroon communities ranged in size from small bands that came together for less than a year to powerful groups of thousands that survived for generations or even centuries.

Current scholarship on ...


Pritchard, “Gullah” Jack  

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 ...


Prosser, Nancy  

Cassandra Veney

slave, participant, and co-conspirator in an attempted slave revolt in 1800. There is a scant historical record of the life of Nancy Prosser. She is best known for her role in the 1800 aborted slave revolt led by her husband, Gabriel, and his two brothers, Solomon and Martin. Nancy, who went by the nickname Nanny, was born a slave in Henrico County, Virginia. She married Gabriel sometime around 1799. There is no record of any children born of the union. Gabriel was the slave of Thomas Henry Prosser the couple has often been called Prosser but there is no evidence that they used their owner s surname After the two were married it is not certain if Nancy lived with Gabriel on the Prosser plantation Brookfield located approximately six miles from Richmond Whether the two lived together or not they probably influenced ...



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 ...


Said, Umar ibn  

Allan D. Austin

Islamic slave and autobiographer, was African born and also known as Omar, Uncle Moro, and Moreau. The son of moderately wealthy parents in Futa Toro (northeastern Senegal), whom he honored in several of his American writings, he may have been related, at some remove, to some of the other Fulbe or Fulani caught up in the Atlantic slave trade, such as Job Ben Solomon, Ibrahima Abd al-Rahman, Bilali, Salih Bilali, and Charno (a literate Fula enslaved in South Carolina). All were steadfast adherents to Islam. According to Said's own statements, he was educated for some twenty years by Fulani instructors, became a teacher himself, and while in Futa Toro closely followed the tenets of his religion. He never mentioned having a wife or children.

Said did write that an unidentified African army he belonged to was defeated by an infidel non Muslim enemy ...


Slave Culture  

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 ...


Staines, Ona Maria Judge  

Glenn Allen Knoblock

slave of President George Washington, was the daughter of Andrew Judge, a white indentured servant who came to North America from England in 1772, and an enslaved woman named Betty. Andrew Judge worked at the Washingtons' Mount Vernon estate for a term of four years before becoming free. Betty was originally a slave of Martha Washington's first husband. Upon his death and Martha's subsequent marriage to George Washington, Betty came to Mount Vernon, where she met Judge. Though Ona's father was free, the children of slave women in Virginia were, as virtually everywhere else in the New World, legally considered the property of their owners and remained in bondage.

Betty was an expert seamstress for the Washington family Like her mother Ona Judge was assigned to work in the Washington mansion performing domestic duties and she learned sewing skills from her mother She became such ...


Still, Peter  

Adele N. Nichols

enslaved African American who purchased his own and his family's freedom, was born on a plantation owned by Saunders Griffin on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Still's father, Levin Steel, purchased his own freedom, and his mother, Sidney, later known as Charity, was enslaved.

Most of what is known about Still's life can be found in the narrative that he later dictated. Sidney escaped from slavery twice, and the second time she took only her daughters and left the six-year-old Still and his older brother, also named Levin. The elder Levin and Sidney changed their last names from Steel to Still to prevent Sidney from being caught and returned to slavery. Still realized that his mother was absent from home, but he did not know her whereabouts. Shortly after her disappearance, he was taken to Kentucky and sold to John Fisher, a mason in Lexington.

Because he was young ...


Tye, Colonel  

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Loyalist guerrilla leader during the American Revolution, originally known as Titus, was the slave of John Corlis in Shrewsbury, Monmouth County, New Jersey. Titus was cruelly treated by his master and was often whipped for the most trivial offenses. Though John Corlis was a Quaker, as a slaveholder he practiced few of the faith's pacifist beliefs. Even among Quakers that did hold slaves, Corlis proved abusive. Not only did he frequently whip Titus, he refused to teach him to read and write, he likely offered no religious instruction, and he refused to free him at age twenty-one, practices normally followed by slave-owning Quakers.

Given Titus's lowly status, it is therefore not surprising that he would have escaped from his master at the first opportunity. In November 1775, perhaps around the time of his twenty-first birthday, Titus ran away. Corlis placed an ad for his runaway slave on 8 ...


Zanj Rebellion  

Kent Krause

Thousands of African slaves labored in the Middle East during the early medieval period. Arab writers called these Bantu-speaking peoples from East Africa the Zanj, which means “black.” Historians are uncertain about when and how the Zanj first arrived in the Middle East, but both of the powerful Islamic empires that dominated the region during this period, the Umayyad caliphate (661–750) and the Abbasid caliphate (750–1258), were known to have imported Zanj slaves. Muslims most likely acquired them through trade and as tribute from subject states. Although most slaves in medieval Islamic society were domestic servants, the Zanj toiled in harsh conditions on plantations and in the salt mines of lower Iraq's canal region.