Slavery scholars have documented many of the mutinies and rebellions —if not the countless escapes and suicides, starting with African captives who jumped into the sea rather than face loss of liberty—that made the buying and selling of humans such a risky, if lucrative, enterprise. Beyond famed slave revolts such as that of Nat Turner were less well-known ones such as that of Denmark Vesey. The literate freedman corralled thousands of enslaved people in and around Charleston, South Carolina into plans for an ambitious insurrection that would kill all whites, burn the city and free those in bondage.
After an informant tipped off authorities, the plot was squelched at the last minute; scores were convicted, and more than 30 organizers executed. Those unlucky enough to be caught and returned knew what awaited them: Most runaways became horrific cautionary tales for their fellow slaves, with dramatic public shows of torture, dismemberment, burning and murder.
Gordon, a freed slave in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, displays his whip-scarred back on April 2, American culture has long been deeply threaded with images of black inferiority and even nostalgia for the social control that slavery provided. In the period immediately before and just following the Civil War , benign images in paintings and illustrations presented the old plantation as a kind of orderly agrarian paradise where happy, childlike slaves were cared for by their beneficent masters.
The Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras saw the emergence of an even more damaging stereotype: blacks as savage immoral brutes. As seen in the work of authors such as Thomas Dixon and films such as D.
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Cue the Klan and lynch mobs. Although the Thirteenth amendment technically abolished slavery , it provided an exception that allowed for the continuation of the practice of forced labor as punishment for a crime. Several white people claimed they had heard slaves bragging about setting the fires and threatening worse. They concluded that a revolt had been planned by secret black societies and gangs, inspired by a conspiracy of priests and their Catholic minions — white, black, brown, free and slave.
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Certainly there were coherent ethnic groups who might have led a resistance, among them the Papa, from the Slave Coast near Whydah Ouidah in Benin; the Igbo, from the area around the Niger River; and the Malagasy, from Madagascar. They had probably been brought to New York from Havana, the greatest port of the Spanish West Indies and home to a free black population. In the investigation that followed, 30 black men, two white men and two white women were executed.
Before the end of the summer of , 17 blacks would be hanged and 13 more sent to the stake, becoming ghastly illuminations of white fears ignited by the institution of slavery they so zealously defended. Born prophetically in on the Prosser plantation, just six miles north of Richmond, Va.
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A skilled blacksmith who stood more than six feet tall and dressed in fine clothes when he was away from the forge, Gabriel cut an imposing figure. But what distinguished him more than his physical bearing was his ability to read and write: Only 5 percent of Southern slaves were literate. Other slaves looked up to men like Gabriel, and Gabriel himself found inspiration in the French and Saint-Domingue revolutions of He imbibed the political fervor of the era and concluded, albeit erroneously, that Jeffersonian democratic ideology encompassed the interests of black slaves and white workingmen alike, who, united, could oppose the oppressive Federalist merchant class.
Spurred on by two liberty-minded French soldiers he met in a tavern, Gabriel began to formulate a plan, enlisting his brother Solomon and another servant on the Prosser plantation in his fight for freedom. Word quickly spread to Richmond, other nearby towns and plantations and well beyond to Petersburg and Norfolk, via free and enslaved blacks who worked the waterways.
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Gabriel took a tremendous risk in letting so many black people learn of his plans: It was necessary as a means of attracting supporters, but it also exposed him to the possibility of betrayal. He planned his uprising for August 30 and publicized it well. But on that day, one of the worst thunderstorms in recent memory pummeled Virginia, washing away roads and making travel all but impossible. Undeterred, Gabriel believed that only a small band was necessary to carry out the plan.
Accounting for Slavery — Caitlin Rosenthal | Harvard University Press
But many of his followers lost faith, and he was betrayed by a slave named Pharoah, who feared retribution if the plot failed. The rebellion was barely under way when the state captured Gabriel and several co-conspirators. German Coast Uprising, If the Haitian Revolution between and — spearheaded by Touissant Louverture and fought and won by black slaves under the leadership of Jean-Jacques Dessalines — struck fear in the hearts of slave owners everywhere, it struck a loud and electrifying chord with African slaves in America.
In , about 40 miles north of New Orleans, Charles Deslondes, a mulatto slave driver on the Andry sugar plantation in the German Coast area of Louisiana, took volatile inspiration from that victory seven years prior in Haiti. He would go on to lead what the young historian Daniel Rasmussen calls the largest and most sophisticated slave revolt in U.
The Stono Rebellion had been the largest slave revolt on these shores to this point, but that occurred in the colonies, before America won its independence from Great Britain. After communicating his intentions to slaves on the Andry plantation and in nearby areas, on the rainy evening of Jan. That was a tactical mistake to be sure, but Deslondes and his men had wisely chosen the well-outfitted Andry plantation — a warehouse for the local militia — as the place to begin their revolt.
Those individuals and organisations who are committed to collaboration are also committed to on-the-ground anti-slavery activities somewhere in the world which creates a priority dilemma. One reason is our lack of understanding of what true collaboration looks like. Collaboration is not mildly-interested people getting together to hug each other. No, collaboration is about channelling energy and resources real resources together to ensure the main thing, in this case eradication of slavery and the slave trade, is the main thing and is successfully dealt with.
As I visited organisations, in person and online, I was overwhelmed by how many are doing something in the anti-slavery arena. Usually with those sorts of numbers on a Google search only the first two or three pages are worth looking at. Not so with anti-slavery! There are pages and pages of legitimate organisations worth investigating.
- Family Voices.
- The Messy Link Between Slave Owners And Modern Management.
- Book of Firsts: First Time Almost Everything Happened (History 5);
- History & Memory.
- Du bonheur : un voyage philosophique (Documents) (French Edition).
- Collaboration – Do We Need It?;
- Marràqueix. En un cap de setmana (Catalan Edition).
I currently follow on Twitter about twenty-five organisations or people I believe to be the cream of knowledge and information on anti-slavery. Over the years, working with a great anti-slavery organisation in India, I have seen young New Zealanders go and visit our work, get inspired and come back to New Zealand ready to become the next William Wilberforce.
After about eighteen months the money has dried up, their enthusiasm has waned, and their energy and resources have been exhausted. Worse, some experience vicarious trauma from being exposed to the realities of slavery and the slave trade. They feel incredibly guilty but they are exhausted and tapped out. Snuffing out the enthusiasm of a generation with justice flowing through their veins is just terrible. Who is standing in the gap, inspiring, resourcing and investing in them? In observing these three trends I can see a gap that needs filling. What is needed is an organisation with the primary purpose of bringing people together to genuinely collaborate, mobilising people into sustainable activity, building capacity in people and organisations, and giving New Zealanders opportunities to advocate at all levels of society.
These are some of the key reasons why Stand Against Slavery has been established. It sees the need to harness the energy of all New Zealanders for the cause of the enslaved in this world — whether individuals, community groups, NGO organisations or Government.