Tacky's Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War

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Harvard University Press, 2020 - History - 336 pages

A gripping account of the largest slave revolt in the eighteenth-century British Atlantic world, an uprising that laid bare the interconnectedness of Europe, Africa, and America, shook the foundations of empire, and reshaped ideas of race and popular belonging.

In the second half of the eighteenth century, as European imperial conflicts extended the domain of capitalist agriculture, warring African factions fed their captives to the transatlantic slave trade while masters struggled continuously to keep their restive slaves under the yoke. In this contentious atmosphere, a movement of enslaved West Africans in Jamaica (then called Coromantees) organized to throw off that yoke by violence. Their uprising--which became known as Tacky's Revolt--featured a style of fighting increasingly familiar today: scattered militias opposing great powers, with fighters hard to distinguish from noncombatants. It was also part of a more extended borderless conflict that spread from Africa to the Americas and across the island. Even after it was put down, the insurgency rumbled throughout the British Empire at a time when slavery seemed the dependable bedrock of its dominion. That certitude would never be the same, nor would the views of black lives, which came to inspire both more fear and more sympathy than before.

Tracing the roots, routes, and reverberations of this event across disparate parts of the Atlantic world, Vincent Brown offers us a superb geopolitical thriller. Tacky's Revolt expands our understanding of the relationship between European, African, and American history, as it speaks to our understanding of wars of terror today.

 

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Tacky's Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War

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Harvard historian Brown (The Reaper’s Garden) revisits the largest slave rebellion in the 18th-century British Empire in this revealing history of the series of insurrections involving more than 1,000 ... Read full review

Contents

The Path to Rebels Barricade
1
1 Wars Empire
17
2 The Jamaica Garrison
44
3 Coromantee Territory
85
4 Tackys Revolt
129
5 The Coromantee War
164
6 Routes of Reverberation
208
The Age of Slave War
237
Notes
251
Acknowledgments
309
Index
313
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About the author (2020)

Vincent Brown is the Charles Warren Professor of American History and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University and the author of The Reaper's Garden (Harvard), which won the James A. Rawley Prize, the Louis Gottschalk Prize, and the Merle Curti Award. He has received Guggenheim and Mellon New Directions fellowships. His online interactive map Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760-1761: A Cartographic Narrative has been viewed by 87,000 users in 184 countries, and his documentary Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness, broadcast nationally on PBS, won the John E. O'Connor Film Award and was chosen as Best Documentary at the Hollywood Black Film Festival.

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