Resistance was always present during the time of slavery. Slaves carried out acts of sabotage, performed poor work or pretended to be sick. More extreme acts of revolt included committing crimes such as arson, poisoning or attempted escape.
Slaves Revolted nearly from the Beginning in the 1600, and continued through time until the mid-1800’s.
The deadliest revolt in Colonial American history was in Stono SC. At this time armed slaves marched to Florida believing this would become freedom. The insurrection was put down and caused about 20 white to die and more than 40 blacks.
There were also groups such as the maroons. This was a group of fugitive slaves who formed communities in areas such as in the Virginia Great Dismal Swamps and the Florida Everglades. These areas were chosen because they were inaccessible areas.
Gabriel Prosser was another historical organizer of revolt. He began organizing an invasion on Richmond Virginia which would attack it armory. He enlisted over 1000 slaves and collected armory and weapons. This was the first large scale slave revolt in the United States. Prosser was betrayed and the state militia attacked, he and 35 of his men were hanged.
In the 1800’s there were several documented revolts including The Louisiana revolt which ended in suppression by the US Troops. At Fort Blount 300 slaves and 20 Native American allies held the fort for several days before being attacked and suppressed by US Troops. More historically was the Denmark Vesey revolt. Mr. Vesey won a lottery and purchased his emancipation in 1800. He later plotted one of the most intricate revolts in history by masterminding a plan that included 1000’s of slaves organized in cells. His plan was to cause a major fire at night using the distraction to kill slave owners and their families. He was betrayed and hung.
The Underground Railroad which was a network of free African Americans and white “conductors” and sympathizers assisted approx. 75,000 slaves to escape to freedom in the north and helped them find shelter and work.
There were cases where ships carrying slaves were over thrown. The Amistad munity led by a West African named Cinque. The slaves organized a mutiny, killed the crew except for the captain and first mate. They demanded to be returned to Africa but were instead sailed to New York. They eventually won their freedom, being defended by former president John Quincy Adams. In another instance Slaves being transported from New York to Louisiana over powered the crew and sailed to the Bahamas where they were granted asylum and freedom.
In 1849 Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery in Maryland and became one of the most known “conductor” on the Underground Railroad, she returned to the South 19 times and helped more than 300 slaves escape from freedom.
In 1859 John Brown and a group of slaves and white abolitionists organized an attack on Harpers Ferry, Virginia. They captured the federal Armory and arsenal before the insurrection is halted. Brown and other captures are tried and executed. This raid quickened the beginning of the Civil War.
Slaves and Theft: Slaves often stole from their masters by not working as hard as they could or acting as though they were dumb when they weren’t . Many of them, both men and women stole time by pretending to be sick. This was easier for the women than the men because the women were expected to produce children and their