The Stono Rebellion & The Creation of The 1740 Negro Act

In 1739, the Stono rebellion was a slave rebellion that took place in the colony of South Carolina. It was the largest slave uprising in the British mainland colonies with 25 white people and 35-50 black people being killed. The leader of the rebellion was a man named Jemmy who was a native African likely from the central African Kingdom of Kongo.

He led 20 enslaved Kongolese men who marched south of the Stono River (For which the rebellion is named) on their way to Spanish Florida. The Spanish were making an effort to destabilize British rule and they had promised freedom and land to any slave who escaped from the British colonies. Jemmy recruited another 60 slaves before being intercepted and defeated by the South Carolina militia.

In an attempt to prevent that type of uprising from happening again the South Carolina Legislature passed the Negro Act 1740, which made it illegal for slaves to move abroad, assemble in groups, raise food, earn money or learn to read or write. According to the new bill, owners were permitted to kill any rebellious slaves if they felt it was necessary. The new bill also required there to be one white to every ten blacks on any plantation.

The Legislation also worked to improve the conditions of slaves by punishing slave maters who worked their slaves to hard. However, there was no way to enforce this policy since the law didn’t allow slave testimony against whites. At this same time, they also created schools to teach slaves Christian doctrine to keep them completely subservient and controllable.
















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