Stono Rebellion 2

The history of civilization is the history of slavery, and civilization still requires slavery today in order to exist. Back in the days of the Romans, there were hundreds of slave revolts and uprisings, and several of them (see The Servile Wars) were successful enough that they at least temporarily defeated militias and armies (8 legions in the case of Spartacus!) sent to stop them. Slaves were branded, tortured, and killed when they rebelled, and they were kept poor and ignorant in the hopes of keeping them docile.

In the “Land of the Free”, there have also been hundreds of slave rebellions, although they are not nearly as celebrated or as taught in schools as the great wars on behalf of “democracy”. But they are worth remembering, and celebrating, so we never forget that human beings desire to be free, and they will fight for their freedom when given even a slim chance of success.

One of the most significant and influential slave rebellions in colonial America is the Stono Rebellion of September of 1739 in South Carolina. It seems that these slaves were for the most part Catholic Christians from the African Kingdom of Kongo, many spoke Portuguese, could read and write, and some had military experience (most slaves in the Kongo were soldiers of military defeats). The Stono freedom fighters didn’t make it to Spanish Florida and freedom, but they fought hard and acted with bravery and cleverness.

As a result of this rebellion, the white slave owners and the government passed a comprehensive law to attempt to eliminate future slave uprisings. This law made it much more difficult for slaves to buy or acquire their freedom legally, prohibited them from growing food, earning money, or learning how to read. This law was used as a model by other colonies and later states, but it didn’t stop future slave rebellions.

Let’s remember Jemmy and the other comrades who fought so bravely for their freedom – hopefully someday, somewhere (perhaps on an asteroid colony out in space) people will make a statue of them.