Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Anatomy of a Slave Revolt - Literature of Liberty, October/December 1978, vol. 1, No. 4
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The Anatomy of a Slave Revolt - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, October/December 1978, vol. 1, No. 4 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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The Anatomy of a Slave Revolt
“The Antigua Slave Conspiracy of 1736: A Case Study of the Origins of Collective Resistance.” William and Mary Quarterly 35 (1978): 308–323.
If a last moment change in the plans of their masters had not occurred, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Antiguan slaves would have arisen in open rebellion against the system of slavery on October 11, 1736. Instead of leaving a legacy of bloodshed and race warfare, the Antiguan slaves left a rich, historical record collected during the trial of the leading slave rebels. Contained in the testimony of master and slave is an absorbing and suggestive recital of factors which led the slaves of Antigua to plan for freedom.
The Antiguan slave conspiracy strongly resembles other Carribean rebellions. The slaves chose their leaders from among the household and artisan workers rather than from the fieldhands. The evidence taken at the trial strongly suggests an overriding ethnic character to the conspiracy. All but one of the charismatic slave leaders were Creole and the slaves enlisted in the abortive rebellion seem to have had common African backgrounds. These privileged “elite” slaves freed from field work had time to plot, and their long residence on Antigua familiarized them with the whites' weaknesses.
“The psychological and sociopolitical base for a large-scale plot was perhaps strongest among the many artisans who regularly paid their masters a part of their earnings, obtained either by being hired out or by working on their own.” Such independent and self-reliant productive slaves were difficult to control. The two charismatic slave revolt leaders—the Coromantee Court (from the Gold Coast) and the Creole Tomboy—enlisted followers by playing on their fellow slaves' discontent and on their desire for dignity and manhood. These leaders bound them with an oath to kill whites. Religious sanctions administered by diviners (or obeahmen) strengthened and solemnized the oath of rebellion.
Moreover, the conspiracy drew its strength from the numerical superiority of slaves over whites, exceptionally lax enforcement of slave controls, the gradual rise of many slaves to higher social status and independence, as well as the increasingly frequent opportunities found by slaves for petty, yet overt, resistance.
Not surprisingly, the slaves' stated, pervasive goal was freedom. Beyond the rebellion, however, they gave little thought to how they would protect themselves on the sparsely forested island, or how long they would remain free from the renewed control of their masters. The depth of this thirst for freedom deeply stunned their masters who moved swiftly and ruthlessly to regain dominance and punish the conspirators. Conspiring for freedom was costly: over seventy slaves were executed while as many were banished from family, friends, and Antigua.