When Europeans took thousands of Africans from their native land against their will, one can only expect resistance. Through the struggle, enslaved Africans formed slave rhymes, stories, and planned revolts to fight against the tyranny of the slave owners. Enslaved Africans also used forms of rebellion to out smart their masters and sometimes used violence as redemption for their inhumane treatment. 1)It was also that the arising from the former; industrialization and urbanization were phenomena that made the control of slaves more difficult; and, perhaps most important, economic depression, bringing increased hardships, sharpened tempers, and more widespread leasing of slaves, induced rebelliousness.
It has been shown that the presence of large numbers of blacks, free or not, evoked expressions of fear and impelled measures of precaution on the part of the masters from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. Mostly throughout enslavement resistance was often indirect, which meant either praying in secret for freedom or Union victory, learning to read and write, communicating through code words and songs, telling the slaveholder what he wanted to hear and informing other slaves of one’s deception.
Some acts that we call “resistance” were necessities in the slaves’ perspective, such as stealing food when given poor rations or bringing food to a relative hiding spot in the woods, which would often lead the slaves into running away. When came to the act of running away came the plan of making “maroon colonies” which became a village built by runaway slaves.
Other then running away, often slaves resisted by; poisoning their masters, inflict damage upon tools and themselves to avoid working properly, they would ask their masters to go use the bathroom and then run away, pregnant women and girls would take advantage of their feminine problems to stay away from the fields, slaves would pretended to not understand their master’s orders, they would mock their masters in song and dance, linger during work, or attempt murder on their masters , as well as practice suicide and infanticide.
The same acts applied during the middle passage along with; escaping from their shackles and attacking or killing the crew, whereas the slaves that weren’t able to physically fight, would revolt in other ways such as killing themselves in individual or collective suicides. In the thought of rebellion brought great fear into the minds and hearts of the whites as great leaders of slave revolts including; Denmark Vesey, Gabriel Prosser, and Nat turner.
Prosser lead a rebellion in which the slaves who were tired of the torture and despair were to go forth and rebel. Vesey was a free black man who sought to rebel, and who planned to steal weapons from the Charleston arsenal and try to free all the black house slaves in Charleston, who would then murder their owners. However, whites found out about the plan before it could commence and hung Denmark Vesey and thirty-four of his co-conspirators. This again instilled fear into the minds of whites.
Now it was Nat turner who orchestrated the last of the three resistance attempts and the most successful. (2)On August 20, 1831 he was able to kill his master, which he then started moving plantation to plantation, trying to kill more white slave owners. In all, he and his followers had killed fifty-five whites, but eventually Turner and his followers were all murdered but not without instilling fear into Southern white slave owners, along with the sheer thoroughness of the violence that chilled the hearts of even the most confident slave-owners.
With all these acts and new ideas of rebellion came the period of the Haitian slave revolution, which was a period of brutal conflict in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, leading to the elimination of slavery and the establishment of Haiti as the first republic ruled by people of African ancestry. Although hundreds of rebellions occurred in the New World during the centuries of slavery, only the revolt on Saint-Domingue, which began in 1791, was successful in achieving permanent independence under a new nation, for its regarded as a defining moment in the history of Africans in the New World.
The signal to begin the revolt was given by Duty Boukman, a high priest of voodoo and leader of the Maroon slaves, and within the next ten days, slaves had taken control of the entire Northern Province in an unprecedented slave revolt while whites kept control of only a few isolated, fortified camps. (4) Overall due to the great leaders of the slave revolts, and the brave-hearted slaves in which took the courage to rebel has been shown that the presence of large numbers of blacks, free or not, evoked expressions of fear and impelled measures of precaution on the part of the masters from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries.