The beginning of chattel slavery in North America birthed something else: Rebellion. Enslaved people didn’t just engage in passive resistance against slaveholders—they planned and participated in armed revolts. Between the 17th and 19th centuries, enslaved Africans and African Americans in British North America and the United States staged hundreds of revolts.
Fed by a longing for freedom and occasionally inspired by slave actions in other parts of the region— especially the Caribbean—slave uprisings in the United States were daring, desperate, and inevitably doomed. Along the way, the organizers and participants of the rebellions shattered stereotypes of compliant, contented slaves, and challenged the institution of slavery itself.
Revolts evolved alongside slavery. The first known slave rebellion in one of England’s American colonies