One of the ways that enslaved African-Americans resisted their oppression was through rebellions. According to historian Herbert Aptheker"s text American Negro Slave Revolts an estimated 250 slave revolts, uprisings and conspiracies have been documented.
The list below includes five of the most memorable uprisings and conspiracies as highlighted in historian Henry Louis Gates" documentary series, African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross.
The Stono Rebellion was the largest rebellion organized by enslaved African-Americans in colonial America. Located near the Stono River in South Carolina, the actual details of the 1739 rebellion are murky because only one firsthand account was ever recorded. However, several secondhand reports were also recorded and it is important to note that white residents of the area wrote the records.
On September 9, 1739, a group of twenty enslaved African-Americans met near the Stono River. The rebellion had been planned for this day and the group stopped first at a firearms depot where they killed the owner and supplied themselves with guns.
Marching down St. Paul Parish with signs that read "Liberty," and with beating drums, the group was headed to Florida. It is unclear who led the group. By some accounts, it was a man named Cato. By others, Jemmy.
The group killed a series of slave owners and their families, burning homes as they traveled.
Within 10 miles, a white militia found the group. The enslaved men were decapitated, for other slaves to see. In the end, 21 whites were killed and 44 blacks.
Also known as the Negro Plot Trial of 1741, historians are unclear how or why this rebellion began.
While some historians believe that enslaved African-Americans had developed a plan to end slavery, others believe it was part of the larger protest against being a colony of England.
However, this is clear: between March and April of 1741, ten fires were set throughout New York City. On the last day of the fires, four were set. A jury found that a group of