The Hanover Revolt: Insurrection by Slaves in 1776

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The Hanover Revolt of 1776
AP-HIST 1050
Dave Cousins
November 21, 2012

The Hanover Revolt of 1776

Two documents which discuss the slave revolt in seventeen seventy-six are titled as “The Jamaican Slave Insurrection” by Richard Sheridan and “Testing the Chains” by Michael Craton. Both these documents contain these historian’s perspectives about the seventeen seventy-six slave revolt. These documents both have similarities and differences and contribute aspects with the seventeen seventy-six slave revolt. Sheridan’s document is very detailed discussing the life of the maroons from before and after they signed the treaty. Sheridan’s document also discusses the events that occurred before the slave revolt, what caused the slave revolt, American Revolution, and the plot of the slaves. Sheridan’s document goes into depth and presents many details on what he is trying to say. On the other hand, Craton’s document only discusses one major event which was about the plot of the slaves. With no evidential proof on what caused the slave revolt, these historian’s share with us there perspectives and gives us an idea on what some of the answers to our questions might be.

Before the slave revolt occurred in seventeen seventy-six, there were many other slave outbursts that occurred in the past. It was stated in Sheridan’s document that after years of getting ambushed and attacked, the whites sued the Maroons for peace. The Maroons and the whites eventually signed the first treaty which occurred on March seventeen thirty-nine. The rebellions began to get very frustrated with the maroons do to the fact that there have been no plans of attack since the treaty was signed. Although, in seventeen sixty, slaves from numerous plantations in the parish of St. Mary fought back. This attack was successful due to the fact that the slaves broke in a fort and acquired arms and gunpowder. This led to the action of the slaves going from plantation to plantation killing the whites and black recruits were increasing.

With the understanding of what situations occurred before, during and after the slave revolt in seventeen seventy-six, it is questioned among us on what caused the revolt? Although there is not much evidential proof on exactly what caused it, but there are historian’s point of views such as Sheridan’s. In his document, Sheridan mentions that hard labor and harsh punishment were cited as strong motives by several slaves who were examined by magistrates of Hanover parish (Sheridan, 299). In Sheridan’s document there are an example from both Orlando Patterson and Monica Schuler who confirm that, “most of the conspiracies and revolts in the period of this study began on estates belonging to absentee proprietors” (Sheridan, 299). Slaves were forced to work harder so that the white men would produce large profits and salaries for themselves. Sheridan states that these factors were the reason why the slave revolt slowly began. The slaves were eventually getting fed up and tired of the treatment they were receiving from the whites.

Most of the slave outbreaks throughout Jamaica within this period began on estates belonging to absentee proprietors (Sheridan, 299). Absenteeism resulted in gross mismanagement of estates by attorneys who forced the slave to work far beyond their strength, to produce large profits for principles, commissions and salaries for themselves (Sheridan, 292). Absenteeism is an example of how slaves were treated shamefully, because of food shortages and huger brought misery and dissatisfaction to these slaves. Thus the harsh punishment and dissatisfaction mainly led the slaves to discomfort, which then led them to created rebellion.

It is questioned throughout these documents as to why these slave outbreaks occurred and to what the real motive was behind plots. It is stated in Sheridan’s document that the slaves plan to attack the whites when they were most vulnerable. In...
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