Slave Rebellions

Given the treatment of slaves and even free men, it was not surprising that various uprisings had been planned throughout the nineteenth century. In many situations the leaders of such rebellions were intelligent, literate slaves, though there are of course exceptions; for example, Denmark Vesey had bought his freedom some time previous and John Brown was a white abolitionist. One of the most notorious revolts, perhaps, was Nat Turner's rebellion which saw white men, women and children indescriminately slaughtered and their slaves freed.

Most uprisings were not successful, but nevertheless, the slaveowners in the South were greatly fearful of insurrection as they were vastly outnumbered. Numerous slave codes and federal laws were imposed to curtail the ability of slaves and African Americans to revolt against their masters, which in turn created further friction on both sides.

Generally slave holders attempted to shield their slaves from the full details of the rebellion, some newspapers even failed to report on the aftermath entirely in order to avoid further fuelling the fire. Some of the slave codes that various states imposed can be viewed in the navigation bar below for further reference.

See below to learn about some of the most famous slave revolts in American history.
John Brown's Rebellion
John Brown was a white abolitionist and most famous for inciting the failed slave revolt known as Harpers Ferry Raid in 1859.

Gabriel Prosser's Rebellion
Gabriel Prosser was executed for inciting the first large scale slave uprising in the United States.

Nat Turner's Rebellion
Nat Turner was famed for leading the largest successful slave revolt; a bloody rampage which carried on for 36 hours and saw 60 white people killed.
Denmark Vesey's Rebellion
Denmark Vesey was a free man, credited with planning a slave revolt in Charleston 1822.

Main Menu

Famous American Abolitionists
Click here to learn about American abolitionists and their fight to end slavery.

Famous American Slaves
Visit this page to read about the ordeals of famous African American slaves and their impact on history.

Famous Slave Escapes
Visit this page to learn about some of the most daring slave escapes.

Famous Slave Rebellions
Click here to read about slave rebellions and the effects they had on nineteenth century America.

Slavery Glossary
Visit this page for definitions about slavery and abolition.

State Slave Laws
Click here to learn about the slave codes and laws governing the United States of America.