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Demerara Slave Rebellion, 1823

Thomas Muhr

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Americas » South America

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899

Key-Topics racism, rebellion, revolution, rural, slavery

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00456.x


The Demerara Slave Rebellion was one of several revolts that erupted in the Caribbean in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Founded as a Dutch colony in 1746, Demerara stretched for about 25 miles along the Caribbean coast east of the Demerara River (the “East Coast”), between the colonies of Berbice to the east and Essequibo to the west. The three colonies changed hands several times between the Dutch, French, and English, and all three became British in 1814. At the time of the rising, about 75,000 slaves lived in Demerara-Essequibo, which were under a single Court of Policy. The colonies became Guyana' s three provinces of the same names, and Demerara accommodates today's capital, Georgetown. The Demerara rising was inextricably related to the abolitionist movement and the respective discussions in the British parliament, as well as to the work of the evangelical missionaries from the London Missionary Society (LMS) in the colonies: Reverend John Wray, who set up the Demerara mission station at Plantation Le Resouvenir in 1808, and his successor Reverend John Smith, an abolitionist from a modest lower-class family who arrived in Demerara in 1817. Their arrival complicated a tense situation, as Demerara society was already undergoing changes from within, reflected in increasing confrontations between slaves and whites. Smith's services became very popular with the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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