As sugar crops continued to flourish in the Caribbean, the number of blacks generously surpassed the number of whites living in the region. This led to great difficulties for the white planters, who used their slaves to produce these all-important crops.
An average ratio across the islands was 10 blacks or mulattoes to every one white, but in the countrysides filled with sugar plantations, the ratio was closer to 50 blacks or mulattoes to every white person. White people began to grow anxious about this ethnic discrepancy.
Revolts by slaves had always been common, but a pattern developed over the years. Newly purchased slaves were more likely to revolt than Creoles, or slaves born in the islands. During times of war, the French also encouraged British slaves to rebel.
Many slaves brought to the islands were Coromantee Africans, slaves brought in from the Gold Coast. Many of these people were the Akan, often from the Ashanti tribe. However, Coromantee warriors captured in battle did not easily leave their leadership positions for servitude.
A particularly noteworthy example of such a Coromantee-chief-led rebellion is Tacky's Rebellion on Jamaica in 1760. Tacky led slaves around the island to revolt, murdering a shopkeeper on Easter morning and stealing guns, gunpowder, and other necessary supplies. They then moved inland, taking over estates and killing the whites of the plantation - who were often still asleep in their beds.
Though the militia and armed troops quickly captured and put down this first outbreak, the next several months on the island of Jamaica were filled with slave uprisings. In the end, some 60 whites and between 300 and 400 blacks were killed.
Slave uprisings occurred throughout the islands, though many would-be revolt leaders were caught before rebellions could begin. The dates below list some of the larger rebellions that were staged from 1735 to 1835. But on islands that had held slaves since the earliest days of colonization, such as Barbados, a majority of slave revolts usually occurred before these dates.
|Island||Year||About the Event|
|Antigua||1735||Conspiracy involving blacks and mulattoes around the island.|
|1831||Thousands of slaves rose up, committing arson and rioting.|
|Bahamas (Exuma)||1830||Several slaves rose up.|
|Bahamas (Exuma, Eleuthera, Cat Island)||1832-1834||Widespread rebellion where hundreds of slaves rose up together.|
|Barbados||1816||Bussa's rebellion took place, involving thousands of slaves.|
|Cuba||1805||Slave rebellion recorded.|
|1809||Hundreds rose up in many provinces and in Havana.|
|1825||Hundreds of slaves rose up in Matanzas.|
|1826||Several slaves rebelled in Guira.|
|1830-1831||Several coffee estate slaves rebelled.|
|1833||A few sugar estate slaves revolted.|
|Curaçao||1795||Slaves led by Tula and Carpata rose up by the thousands.|
|Dominica||1785-1790||Dominica's First Maroon War took place.|
|1791||A rebellion on New Year's Day in which hundreds of windward slaves rebelled.|
|1795||The Colihaut uprising involved hundreds of slaves.|
|1802||Hundreds are involved in the mutiny of the Eighth West Indian Regiment.|
|1809-1814||Thousands take part in Dominica's Second Maroon War.|
|Grenada||1765||Maroons encourage and participate in a revolt of hundreds.|
|1795||Fedon's Rebellion, involving both freed men and slaves, takes thousands.|
|Guadeloupe||1737||Hundreds are involved in the Revolt of Latulipe.|
|1789||The French Revolution causes an uprising of thousands.|
|Hispaniola (French)||1752-1758||Mackandal unites the Maroons, and hundreds fight.|
|1791||Thousands rebel during the French Revolution.|
|Jamaica||1742||Dozens of Coromantees in St. Ann's Parish conspire to revolt.|
|1745||Hundreds of Africans plan a revolt in St. David's.|
|1765||Coromantees in St. Mary's rebel.|
|1766||Westmorland slaves revolt.|
|1776||Africans and Creoles in Hanover Parish plan a large rebellion.|
|1791||Many rebellions in the year following the Haitian revolt.|
|1795||Jamaica's Second Maroon War.|
|1806||Several slaves in St. George's Parish caught planning a rebellion.|
|1808||Mutiny of the Second West Indian Regiment.|
|1815||Under Ibos, hundreds of slaves rebel.|
|1822-1824||Unrest in Hanover is widespread, and hundreds rebel.|
|1831-1832||The "Baptist War" takes place on Christmas when thousands rise up.|
|Marie Galante (Guadeloupe)||1789||During the French Revolution, many rise up.|
|1789-1792||Thousands rebelled during the French Revolution.|
|Montserrat||1768||Many planned a rebellion.|
|St. Kitts||1778||Some planned to rebel on the island.|
|St. Lucia||1795||Brigands War.|
|St. Vincent||1769-1773||The Black Carib (mixed escaped slaves and Caribs) fought the First Carib war.|
|Tobago||1770||Revolt in Courland Bay.|
|1771||Rebellion in Bloody Bay.|
|1774||Queen's Bay rebellion.|
|1801||Creoles planned a Christmas rebellion.|
|1807||Hundreds of slaves marched on the Government House.|
|Tortola (British Virgin Islands)||1790||Hundreds revolt on Pickering's estates.|
|1823||Hundreds revolt on Pickering's estates again.|
|1830||Hundreds of Lettsome slaves revolt.|
|1831||A plot involves slaves across the whole island.|
|Trinidad||1805||Hundreds of French slaves plot a revolt.|
Throughout history, Jamaica was home to more slave rebellions than all of the other British islands combined.
These rebellions were a part of the larger picture. Emancipation began to become a truly important part of the world view in the 1800s, and the slaves, too, were aware of the political climate. The French Revolution served to further the campaign to free blacks.
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