West Indies Slave Revolts 1791–1848

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Map Code: Ax02422

Slave revolts in Central America and the Caribbean were frequent. In Haiti a major revolt in 1791 continued until the French banned slavery in 1794. Its leader, former slave Toussaint Louverture, became the leader of the new country of Haiti, the first state to arise from a slave rebellion. The Demerara rebellion of December 1823 was an uprising involving more than 10,000 slaves that took place in t he colony of Demerara-Essequibo (Guyana). John Smith, an English pastor at the “Success” plantation, was implicated in the revolt and was eventually arraigned for “promoting discontent and dissatisfaction” in the minds of the slave population. He died of consumption and his grave became a rallying point for future revolts. Jamaica, with its sugar plantations, experienced many revolts, some of them by the “maroons”, escaped slaves who lived in independent communities in the mountains of Jamaica. In 1831 the Baptist deacon Samuel Sharpe led a Christmas Day general strike for wages and better working conditions, which turned to open rebellion by tens of thousands of slaves, who looted and burned the plantations into January 1832 before being defeated by British troops. This Baptist War was one of the largest slave rebellions in the British West Indies and contributed to Britain’s abolition of slavery in 1833.

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