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Modern Voices
Thomas Davis on the impact of the Stono Rebellion on slaveowners
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Q: How does the Stono Rebellion play on the fears of white slaveowners and what was the impact of that revolt ?
Thomas Davis

A: The Stono Rebellion in South Carolina developes in a context of hostility between Spain and Great Britain. Prior to what's known as the "revolt" the year before, a group of blacks made their way from South Carolina into Florida. The Spanish Government of Florida welcomed them, gave them lands, essentially did a nice little publicity release, saying, "You see these persons are fleeing the English, see how bad the English are." But more than that, what it did was to issue a proclamation to induce others from South Carolina to follow this path, to unsettle the English in South Carolina. And what occurs, then, is that there is a sense that perhaps more African Americans will follow this path. They seem to be more testy, they seem to be more unruly. And then what occurs in South Carolina with the Stono Rebellion, with this large group of African Americans who actually shed white blood, burn plantation houses, move in a body southward, frightens the population. By realizing the specter that they've long envisioned, they've made it real, they've made the blood run, the rebels have. And vengeance is sought for that.
Thomas J. Davis
Professor of History
Arizona State University

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