American Slavery: Stono Rebellion
Stono Rebellion - Another View
The Stono Rebellion (sometimes called Cato's Conspiracy or Cato's Rebellion) is one of the earliest known organized acts of rebellion against slavery within the boundaries of the present United States. On September 9, 1739, South Carolina slaves gathered at the Stono River (for which the rebellion is named) to plan an armed march for freedom.
Several factors may have convinced the slaves that a rebellion might successfully lead to freedom. A yellow fever epidemic had weakened the power of slaveholders, there was talk of a war between Britain and Spain, and accounts of slaves who had obtained their freedom by escaping to Spanish-controlled Florida gave the Carolinian slaves hope. Lastly, it has been suggested that the slaves organized their revolt to take place before September 29, when the Security Act of 1739 (which required all white males to carry arms on Sundays) would take effect. Jemmy, the leader of the revolt, was a literate slave described as Angolan, which likely meant he was from the Kongo Empire in Central Africa. He and the other slaves who led the rebellion may have realized that if they did not act to seek their freedom before September 29, they might not get another chance.