Transcript

Songs of Resistance
FO 705/108 pp. 53-54, 66-67 (c. 1770s)


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It had been observed, that during the day previous to the night on which they rose, the negro boilers in the sugar house, continued singing in their own language, and that they ended every verse, by way of chorus, with the following two lines in their broken english.
Day, for he O
Night a for we O
This did not awaken any suspicion in the whites who attended the boiling house; as the negroes are all musically inclined, and make extempore songs, as Mr Parke truly observes, upon any thing that strikes them either in a grave, or ludicrous light. The burthen of their melancholly ditty therefore at that aweful period, was suppos[e]d merely to express, that day, the season of labour, was for the master; and that night that of rest, for the slave.
The signal for slaughter was given by the head boilers blowing out the lamp nearest to him. In an instant, the unfortunate whites present were seiz'd and murder'd. This account was given by one of the insurgents who surrender'd himself on the faith of a proclamation issued some time after. Having made this bloody beginning, they proceeded to the mansion house to finish the second act of this tragedy.

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