Chronicle of Slave rebellions in the Americas.

All societies practicing slavery will have to deal with slave revolts because there is that desire for Freedom in any human beings. One can express it in their songs or their story-telling nights. It becomes part of their culture and an art in knowing how to implant it to others of the same background.

 History is full of examples of such revolts. When a Roman slave named Spartacus (73-71 BC) rose against abuses against the Roman Empire or a Scandinavian Slave Tunni, in the 9th century, revolted against the Swedish Monarchy, you can also understand well how the slaves of Santo Domingo, Bookman, Dessalines and others may have felt in the 18th century (1791) against the French Imperialism of Napoleon Bonaparte. The French revolution indeed bought to us the words of Liberty and Equality for all. 

I have taken that task to bring to light the most distinctive slave revolutions in the Americas and chose to review some of the most epic African slave revolts which have marked forever the new world in this “Chronicle of African Slave revolts in the Americas”. I am sure you will find time to appreciate what our ancestors have done to make Haiti a free Nation for the Haitians.


History of Slave revolts in the Americas

A)  1526 San Miguel de Gualdape

San Miguel de Gualdape was founded in 1526 by Spanish explorer Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon and is believed to be the first European settlement in what will become the future continental United States. The settlement was established on the coast of Georgia near the present Georgetown, South Carolina and lasted around four months until the settlers died of hunger and disease around a hostile Indian population. From 600 settlers, only 150 survived and returned home alive. They bought with them black slaves which started the first slave rebellion.

Ayllon was a wealthy sugar planter on the island of Hispaniola and a magistrate of a colonial royal appeals court (Real Audiencia). In 1521, he dispatched in the Bahamas, Francisco Gordillo who discovered the deserted islands but sailed further North until the crew landed at Winyah Bay, South Carolina. There, they kidnaped sixty Indians and bought them back to Hispaniola and reported to the Crown, the new discovered rich land in the Northwest. They also bought back the captured Indians and described their customs. Ayllon was given a royal patent from Charles V and the Council of the Indies allowing him to establish a settlement on the eastern shore and develop trades with the Indians. He would become governor for life and impose the religion to the native population but was refrained from implementing Indian labor.

Ayllon requested that Quejo lead an exploratory expedition in tow caravels to explore 640 miles of coast with sixty crewmen in April to July 1525. They follow the Savannah river to reach Winyah Bay and it is believed that they may have reached Chesapeake Bay. Ayllon went back with Quejo and 700 passengers. Antonio de Montesinos and Antonio de Cervantes who were well known in Hispaniola for their outspoken opposition to enslavement and mistreatment of the Indians. came along with the group. A supply of Livestock (cows, sheep, pigs, horses etc.) was loaded.  They settled at San Miguel de Archipel.  The settler suffered from hunger, cold and diseases like dysentery. Water-borne diseases were rampant because of the contamination by animal and human waste. The Indians were not cooperative in the trading but re-supply was always an option from Hispaniola. The settlers demonstrated their misery and discontent.

The death toll climbed quickly and when Ayllon died in October 1526, Captain Francisco Gomez become the leader of the colony. Later Doncel start killing other influent settlers, bringing division in the camp.

The settlers forced on a local Indian village demanding food and assistance. The Indians resisted and they were killed. This was a turning point which incited more hostilities against the Spaniards. It is believed that African slaves set Doncel’s house in fire and others were arrested. History make us believe that the black slaves were on the settlements as household servants or as craftsmen but not as field slaves. There is no documentation on how many African black slaves were on the expedition nor any contemporary account stating that African slaves escaped to share the life of the Indians. This episode is recorded as the first documented instance of black slavery and certainly the first black rebellion in North America.

Maxime Coles MD


1-    Beetriz Pastor (1989). “Silence and Writing: The History of the Conquest”. 1492-1992 University of Minnesota Press.

2-    John Reed Swanton (1922). Early History of the Creek Indians and their Neighbors, Government Printing Office p.34. and P 41

3-    David J Weber (14 May 2014)/ The Spanish Frontier in North America. Yale University Press p. 31.

4-    Walter B Edgar (1998). South America: A History Univ. of South Carolina Press p 22.

5-    Between the Waters: “The Search for San Miguel de Gualdape” Making History Together. Karen Paar. 5 May 2016 South Carolina Encyclopedia.

6-    Dorothy Schroeder, Carl J Schneider (14 May 2014). Slavery in America. InfoBase publishing p. 201.

7-    Schroeder, Henry joseph. “Antonio Montesano”. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol 10. NY Robert Appleton Company, 191.

8-    Hoffman, Paul E (1990). A New Andalucía and a Way to the Orient: The American Southeast During the Sixteenth Century. LSU Press.

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