Remembering the Stono Slave Rebellion

Early on the morning of Sunday, September 9, 1739, twenty black slaves meet near the Stono River, approximately twenty miles southwest of Charles Town in Carolina. At Stono’s bridge, they take guns and powder from Hutcheson’s store and kill the two storekeepers they find there.

“With cries of ‘Liberty’ and beating of drums,” historian Peter H. Wood writes in the Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, “the rebels raised a standard and headed south toward Spanish St. Augustine. Along the road they gathered black recruits, burned houses, and killed white opponents, sparing one innkeeper who was ‘kind to his slaves.'”

Thus commences the Stono Rebellion, the largest slave uprising in the British mainland colonies prior to the American Revolution.

Jemmy, the leader of the revolt, is a literate slave described as Angolan, which likely means from the kingdom of Kongo in Central Africa. Jemmy and several other leaders of the revolt probably had experience using firearms in Africa during Kongo’s suppression of the Mbamba revolt.

Late that afternoon, planters riding on horseback catch up with the band of sixty to one hundred slaves. More than twenty white Carolinians and nearly twice as many black Carolinians are killed before the rebellion is suppressed. As a consequence of the uprising, white lawmakers impose a moratorium on slave imports and enacted a harsher slave code.


Thanks to: South Carolina – The Stono Rebellion 1739



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