Slaves who Abolished Slavery: Blacks in Rebellion

Slaves who Abolished Slavery: Blacks in Rebellion

Slaves who Abolished Slavery: Blacks in Rebellion

Slaves who Abolished Slavery: Blacks in Rebellion


This classic and controversial volume provides extensive coverage of slave resistance and revolt in Jamaica. This new reissue is now available worldwide. Hart's coverage of the slave rebellions and revolts in Jamaica documents that slavery did not eradicate the intellectual and creative powers of slaves; in fact, a great deal survived and was created by the slaves themselves. Hart avoids polemics and his most important point is that the Jamaican rebels forced the British government to reset the agenda for emancipation and the slaves gained their freedom sooner than anticipated. The work is an in-depth accessible study of the Maroon Wars and of the many slave revolts that were a standard feature of the Jamaican struggle against slavery.

Hart pulls the veil from an aspect of West Indian history that has been largely ignored -- if not consciously suppressed -- the slaves' own struggles to abolish slavery. This culmination of his life work and this long-awaited reprint is now widely available to a new generation of students and researchers.


The Slave Rebellions and Maroon Wars of Jamaica began to interest me in or about the year 1940. Soon afterwards I commenced the research on which my second volume is based. These were the years in which the militancy of the workers, which had come to the boil in all the widely scattered colonies of the British West Indies in the late 1930s, and the new nationalistic upsurge, were taking organisational form.

Early in the 1940s I began to speak from political platforms about the resistance of the slaves to their enslavement, about Sam Sharpe, Tacky and other participants in the many slave rebellions and about Cudjoe and other leaders in the Maroon wars. After an initial period of surprise, my colleagues in the trade union and political movements began to understand my purpose.

One of the problems confronting the pioneers of the new popular movements was the formidable historical legacy of a widespread lack of racial self respect. Garvey's oratory, in the late 1920s and early 1930s, had struck a responsive chord and the experience of participation in his movement had provided many thousands of people with a foundation for self assurance. But even so, the task of inspiring national self confidence was a formidable one.

This historical legacy of self denigration was only partly attributable to the objective circumstances of generations of enslavement and cruel exploitation. It was also the contrived effect of a system of education and indoctrination deliberately designed to promote a loyalty to the prevailing imperialism and an acceptance of the domination of whites over blacks.

Many peoples who have been subjected to alien domination have been able to draw strength and inspiration from their own legends and history. The Jamaican people were at a disadvantage. The imperial power had largely succeeded in . . .

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