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Africans were brought to South Carolina to serve as slaves. Many of them were broken down by the forces of humans’ efforts to humiliate and humble them into servitude. Slaves endured the hardships but accompanied with the difficulties, came the ray of hope of freedom from slavery. However, freedom could only come from running or the willingness of a slave’s owner to allow it by giving the slave his or her freedom. Because slaves were considered valuable property, they had little chance of being granted their freedom. Slaves learned that the Spanish, at war with England, were causing problems for the colonists. Some slaves had heard rumors that the Spanish would provide protection and treat them as equals. However, they would have to escape to St. Augustine, Florida (Wood, 1974).
Freedom would not come easy, and the slaves were angry and fed-up. On September 9, 1739, a desperate group of slaves walked down the roadway with signs declaring their right to liberty. Jemmy, an Angolan, coordinated a rebellion that erupted along the Stono River. The slaves broke into a store and armed themselves with weapons, including guns. As they traveled towards the Edisto River, they killed White overseers and forced slaves to join them. Some slaves accompanied them willingly. The slaves fought against the Whites but were outnumbered. The majority of the slaves were killed, and the rest were sold to other settlements outside of the United States (Wood, 1974).
The actions of the slaves led to significant changes in South Carolina. The rebellion had created enough attention to lead the authorities to determine that changes had to be made if another rebellion was to be prevented. The results included fines for Masters of the slaves who overworked them or brutally punished them. A new law passed by the assembly set a particular ratio of how many White people and how many slaves could live on a plantation. The ratio established was one White person per ten slaves. Also, no new slaves were allowed to be imported from the West Indies or Africa. Known as the Negro Act of 1740, slaves were not allowed to grow their food for their personal consumption, assemble, receive any money, or learn to read (Wood, 1974).
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