Stono Rebellion:

September 9, 1739

       Historians disagree on the true identity of the leader of the Stono Rebellion, but he is commonly referred to as Cato.  The Stono rebellion took place in Stono, South Carolina on September 9, 1739 (Sylvester, alma 184).  The roots of the Stono Rebellion have their origins in another instance of slave resistance.  Earlier in 1739, a group of slaves had escaped to Spanish Florida where, protected by Spanish missionaries, they built a fort at St. Augustine to prevent their recapture (Rodriguez, 219).  

       Cato and his followers hoped to escape to Spanish Florida where they felt assured that they, too, would receive freedom.  Cato led his slaves south, killing two warehouse guards and seizing weapons and ammunition.  They continued their march, killing about 20 white men along the way, until local militia created a road block and engaged the rebels in battle (Sylvester, Alma 184).

          By the end of the revolt and subsequent battle, about 45 blacks were dead.  Some of the killed rebels had their heads placed on mile markers on the road to Charleston. South Carolina passed the Negro Acts, which would become the basis for the Black Codes throughout the South.  According to the Acts, slaves were no longer able to earn money, gather in groups for any reason, or legally learn to read (Sylvester, alma 185).

         Two lesser revolts occurred later in the same year, one at Stone Creek and the other at St. John's Parish, in South Carolina.  They are commonly thought to be a result of the Stono Rebellion (Rodriguez, 221).                      



back to North American Slave Rebellions

back to main page