An Insight into Slave Resistance


This extract comes from an extraordinary document, the handwritten account (held by The National Archives) of an unnamed Englishman who lived mainly in the Caribbean for 20 years, from 1768. The manuscript is dedicated to William Wilberforce, in recognition of the 'inestimable benefits' of his efforts to abolish the slave trade, and was therefore probably written some time after 1807.

The document gives a detailed account of the anonymous author's experiences. The extract shown here - which relates how a slave leader Cudjoe threatened an estate overseer - describes the reality of slave resistance in Tobago, which Britain acquired in 1763.

The events recalled in the manuscript are not dated, but we know from other sources that this was a period of frequent revolts by the enslaved in Tobago. The largest uprising was in 1774, when the planters responded by burning slaves alive or cutting off their arms.

FO 705/108, pp. 53-54 (1770s?)

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