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While it started as a peaceful protest, Jamaica’s Baptist War ended with a bloody uprising and the death of over 600 slaves. Inspired by abolitionist movements in Great Britain, on Christmas Day 1831 as many as 60,000 of Jamaica’s 300,000 slaves went on a general strike. Under the direction of a Baptist preacher and slave named Samuel Sharpe, the bondsmen vowed not to return to work until they were awarded basic freedoms and a living wage.

When rumors spread that British colonists planned to break the strike by force, the protest turned into an outright rebellion. In what became the largest slave uprising in the history of the British West Indies, the slaves burned and looted plantations for several days, eventually causing $1.1 million in property damage. The human toll was much more severe. By the time the British colonial army mobilized and put down the revolt, as many as 300 slaves and 14 whites had been killed. Three hundred more slaves—including the ringleader Sharpe—were later hanged for their involvement in the uprising. While it may have been unsuccessful, the effects of the Baptist War were eventually felt all the way across the Atlantic. Only one year later, the British Parliament would once and for all abolish slavery in the British Empire.

 

Read about this and other slave revolts at http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/7-famous-slave-revolts 

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