North American Slave Revolts
The 1811 German Coast uprising was a revolt of black slaves in parts of the Territory of Orleans on January 8–10, 1811. The uprising occurred on the east bank of the Mississippi River in what is now St. John the Baptist, St. Charlesand Jefferson Parishes, Louisiana. While the slave insurgency was the largest in US history, the rebels killed only two white men. Confrontations with militia and executions after trial killed 95 black people.
Between 64 and 125 enslaved men marched from sugar plantations in and near present-day LaPlace on the German Coast toward the city of New Orleans. They collected more men along the way. Some accounts claimed a total of 200 to 500 slaves participated. During their two-day, twenty-mile march, the men burned five plantation houses (three completely), several sugarhouses, and crops. They were armed mostly with hand tools.
White men led by officials of the territory formed militia companies, and in a battle on January 10 killed 40 to 45 of the escaped slaves while suffering no fatalities themselves, then hunted down and killed several others without trial. Over the next two weeks, white planters and officials interrogated, tried, executed and decapitated an additional 44 escaped slaves who had been captured. Executions were generally by hanging or firing squad. Heads were displayed on pikes to intimidate other slaves.
- Gabriel’s Rebellion, 1800
Gabriel was a literate enslaved blacksmith hired out to work in Richmond by his owner, Thomas Prosser of Henrico County. With some freedom of movement, access to other slaves, and information about uprisings elsewhere, Gabriel planned a slave rebellion in central Virginia. Betrayed by two fellow slaves, Gabriel and twenty-five of his followers were hanged.
- The Nat Turner Revolt, 1831
The danger of a slave uprising seemed remote to most whites until this incident. In Southampton County, Nat Turner led about sixty fellow slaves in a two-day uprising that left sixty whites dead. The reaction to the event by white southerners can be seen in broadsides, narratives, and private letters. Because Turner’s former master was said to be a fair man, every slaveholder in Virginia suddenly felt threatened.