Nat Turner’s rebellion, also called the Southampton Insurrection, is probably the most famous slave uprising in North America. The revolt was brilliantly planned by Turner and took place August 1831 in Southampton County, Virginia. The Turner-led group of ”freedom fighters” killed up to 65 people of European descent, the highest number of fatalities caused by a slave uprising in the American South. Though the rebellion was quelled within a few days, Turner survived in hiding for more than two months afterward.
The most successful slave uprising in the Western Hemisphere was the Haitian Revolution, which began in 1791. Dutty Boukman, an educated enslaved African from Jamaica who was sold to a French slave master in Haiti, organized and started the revolution that was eventually led the French to banned slavery on the island. Later, military mastermind Toussaint L’Ouverture led the revolution as the France, Britain, and Spain, governments tried to colonize Haiti and re-establish slavery. During the war, which culminated in the first independent black country in 1804, 100,000 French and British soldiers were killed.
THE ZANJ REVOLT
The largest revolt by enslaved Africans was ignited by the Zanj against Arab slavers. The Zanj or Zinj were the inhabitants of the land along the coast of East Africa. They were traded as slaves by Arabs and were made to work in the cruel and humid saltpans of Shatt-al-Arab, near Basra in modern-day Iraq. Conscious of their large numbers and oppressive working conditions, the Zanj rebelled three times.
The largest of these rebellions lasted from 868 to 883 A.D., during which they inflicted repeated defeat on Arab armies sent to suppress the revolt. For some 14 years, they continued to achieve remarkable military victories and even built their own capital–Moktara, the Elect City.
The New York Slave Revolt of 1712 happened in New York City, when 23 enslaved Africans killed nine people of European descent and injured six more. The slaves planned and organized the revolt on the night of April 6, 1712. After setting fire to a building on Maiden Lane near Broadway, they waited for colonists to rush to put out the flames, then proceeded to attack them.
The First Maroon War
In 1739, the Jamaican Maroons were the first enslaved Africans to win their freedom from European slave masters. During the First Maroon War, they fought and escaped slavery and established free communities in the mountainous interior of the island. For 76 years, there were periodic skirmishes between the British and the Maroons, alongside occasional slave revolts.
Eventually, the British government and slave holders realized they couldn’t defeat the Maroons, so they came up with a peace treaty that allowed them to live in their own free states in Jamaica. As a result, the Maroons established their five main towns: Accompong, Trelawny Town, Moore Town, Scots Hall, and Nanny Town.
Anglo-Asante Wars (Ghana)
Nowhere in West Africa was there a longer tradition of confrontation between African and European powers than in the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), between the Asante Kingdom and the British. England’s efforts to extend its economic and political influence into the interior of the Gold Coast were met with stiff resistance from the Asante.
For nearly a hundred years (1806-1901), the Asante Kingdom defended its interests and freedom through a series of victories in battles with the British and other Europeans. The British finally defeated the Asante with superior weaponry and Nigerian warriors in Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa’s War of the Golden Stool in 1901.
This victory paved the way for British colonial rule over the entire Gold Coast, but the Queen Mother managed to keep the Golden Stool safe from the British.
Read more at Atlanta Black Star.