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Modern Voices
Margaret Washington on Jemmy, the leader of the Stono Rebellion
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Q: Jemmy was the leader of the Stono Rebellion. How is a person like Jimmy cultivated in the slave communities that exist there?
Margaret Washington

A: Jemmy the Rebel is African, probably far more African than Carolinian. But we have no idea how old he was when he came to the colony. We do know that he was either Congolese or Angolan, and that as a leader of the rebels, his cohort group were all Angolan, some 20 or so. So how does someone like that emerge in the black community, the early black community? He emerges probably as a leader -- may have been a leader, may have come from a leadership family in Africa, may have been able to read Portuguese and [in the] process of reading Portuguese, probably could read Spanish.... And so he had some skills, some cultural skills that were European. At the same time, his sense of himself, his sense of identify and his sense of community was African.
Margaret Washington
Associate Professor of History
Cornell Universiy

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