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10 Of the Most Successful Freedom Crusades

Updated: Jan 23

If you ask anyone in the U.S. to name a slave rebellion that they know about, you’re sure to hear the name Nat Turner more often than not. If we are to measure the success of a freedom crusade by whether or not freedom was achieved and for how long, we will have to consider the crusade by the venerated ancestor, Nat Turner, unsuccessful. Turner was captured within 6 weeks, “tried”, hanged, then he was dragged with a horse before being cut open and ripped into 4 pieces. In addition, 18 “conspirators” (officially) were hanged and 14 were transported out of state. Why is it that when we think of uprisings by enslaved Africans, an unsuccessful crusade is the first one that comes to mind?


Triunvirato Rebellion

Known for her intelligence, Carlota Lukumi led a freedom crusade against the inhumane slavers of Cuba in 1843. The well-organized uprising included 5 plantations and lasted for a year before Carlota was captured. More on the Truiunvirato Rebellion...


The Zanj Revolt

During the 9th-century in Iraq, (869 - 883 CE) a group of enslaved Africans known as the Zanj, along with other groups that opposed the Caliphate, organized a freedom crusade. The freedom crusaders fought so fiercely they controlled parts of Iraq for 15 years. The Zanj even erected a capital city called Moktara. More on the Zanj...


Quilombos of Brazil

Quilombos were large settlements founded by formerly enslaved Africans who escaped to their freedom in Brazil. The most famous of these freedom crusading communities was Palamares, which had a population of over 30,000 and maintained it’s independence and freedom for almost 100 years (c 1600 B.C.E. - c 1695). More on Quilombos...


Malê Revolt

The Malê Revolt, also known as “The Great Revolt”, was one of the most significant freedom crusades of Brazil. Comprised of mostly Islamic Africans, the crusade forced the Portuguese authorities to send the surviving freedom crusaders back to Africa. More on Malê...



First Maroon War

The Maroons of Jamaica fought so intensely during their crusade for freedom against the British (1728-1740), authorities were forced to offer the Maroons towns that were governed by Maroon rulers in exchange for peace and help in capturing future freedom crusaders. More on the First Maroon War...



















Black Seminole Revolt

Between 1835 and 1838, the Black Seminoles led the largest freedom crusade, by enslaved Africans, in the history of the United States. The fighting was so fierce and costly for the U.S. Army that they negotiated a treaty (which the U.S. did not fully honor). A group of those Black Seminoles eventually made their way to Mexico where they founded the town of Nacimiento. More on the Black Seminoles...


Suriname

One of the most famous Maroon communities in the world emerged from a crusade for freedom that lasted nearly 50 years in Suriname, South America against the inhumane, Dutch slavers of the Netherlands. Although fighting continued for many years after, in 1757, a peace treaty was signed with the Netherlands acknowledging the sovereignty of Maroon groups who have a population of close to 65,000 in Suriname today. More on Suriname...




Slavers’ Ships

Most people are familiar with the story of the freedom crusade that took place on the Amistad, but there are many more stories of hope and courage that remain obscure. Between 1775 and 1791 there were over 22 successful freedom crusades, on slavers' ships, saving over 5,000 lives. Other inspiring stories of freedom include the slavers’ ships: Adventure, Little George, Snow Ann, Creole, and Perfect among others. More on Slavers' Ships...



Gaspar Yanga

Around 1570 near Veracruz, Mexico, Gaspar Yanga became the leader of a freedom crusade against the inhumanity of the Spaniards. This union of Africans who had escaped from slavery to the highlands near Veracruz built a colony and remained safe for over 30 years. In 1609, Spain attempted to reclaim it’s formerly enslaved Africans but was met with stout resistance by Yanga and the colony. After years of fighting and no conclusive victory, Spain agreed to terms with Yanga who was then free to run his colony without interference. The town that he established, which is in Veracruz Province, still bears the name of Yanga to this day. More on Yanga...



Haitian Revolution

The Haitian Revolution was a successful freedom crusade by self-liberated, enslaved Africans in Saint-Domingue, now the sovereign state of Haiti. In their freedom crusade against inhumane, French slavers, Haitians adopted a, “take no prisoners” policy. Although their leader, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, showed mercy to women, children, doctors, and teachers, he ordered the execution of all other Europeans. More on the Haitian Revolution...



Sources:


Al-Tabari, Abu Ja'far Muhammad B. The Revolt of the Zanj. Translated by David Waines, State U of New York P, 1992.


Bird, J. B. Rebellion: John Horse and the Black Seminoles, First Black Rebels to Beat American Slavery, Johnhorse.com.


"The Black Seminoles and the Largest Slave Revolt in U.S. History." YouTube, All Eyes on Media, 22 Sept. 2013,

www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXLZ0f1Dk4E&t=11s&index=9&list=PLNWVPlRwE-

3gSKVchdBs86zHhWwXU1KH2.


Carey, Bev The Maroon Story: The Authentic and Original History of the Maroons in the History of Jamaica 1490-1880. Kingston, Jamaica: Agouti Press, 1997. p. 315-355.

Cheney, Glenn A. Quilombo Dos Palmares: Brazil's Lost Nation of Fugitive Slaves. New London Librarium, 2014.


Egalite for All: Toussaint Louverture & The Haitian Revolution. Directed by Noland Walker, Perf. Edwidge Danticat, Jacques Derosena. PBS, 2009.


Finch, Aisha K. Rethinking Slave Rebellion in Cuba: La Escalera and the Insurgencies of 1841-1844. University of North Carolina Press, 2015.


Kent, R. K. "African Revolt in Bahia: 24-25 January 1835." Journal of Social History, vol. 3, no. 4, 1970, pp. 334-356.


Pierson, Donald. "The Negro in Bahia, Brazil." American Sociological Review, vol. 4, no. 4, 1939, p. 524.


Rowell, Charles H. “"El Primer Libertador de las Americas"/The First Liberator of the Americas: The Editor's Notes." Callaloo, vol. 31, no. 1, 2008, pp. 1-11.


Stedman, John G. Narrative of a Five Years' Expedition, Against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, in Guiana, on the Wild Coast of South America: From the Year 1772 to 1777: Elucidating the History of that Country, and Describing Its Productions Vol. 2. PDF, the Library of Brown U, 1813.

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