While African slavery
the United States is traditionally dated from 1619, African peoples have been enslaved in
the Americas since shortly after the advent of European exploration. African peoples have
also consistently resisted their enslavement during every stage of the enslavement
process; beginning with their capture, extending through their enslavement and ending with
their death. While enslaved Africans were in the forefront of efforts to cast off the
yokes of slavery, they were also often those who betrayed the efforts at resistance. Such
was the case with Gabriel Prosser's rebellion of August 1800. A well planned effort that
involved some 1000 Blacks in an anticipated attack upon Richmond, Virginia, Prosser's
widespread conspiracy was first betrayed by the forces of nature, whose tremendous storms
interfered with the planned uprising. The most telling betrayal, however, came from an
enslavee who told white authorities of the planned uprising and guaranteed its failure. In
honor of the bicentennial of this seminal effort by Gabriel Prosser, and others who
preceded and followed him, HUArchives Net has focused this issue upon
"Slavery and Resistance." We deeply appreciate the efforts of guest editors Edna
Medford and Selwyn Carrington in helping us to focus the wide-ranging discussion.
articles are designed to reflect some of the earliest efforts of Blacks to attain their
freedom and the various methods enslaved Africans used in their strides toward freedom. As
usual, items are included to introduce young people to the complexities of the enslaving
experiences. Especially useful are the calendar of revolts and the bibliographic
resources, which are designed to stimulate further research. As we also celebrate the
bicentennial of Washington as the nation's capital, it is useful to remind ourselves that
it was once characterized as the "Slave Market of America." The Pearl incident
helps to understand that betrayal by Blacks was common to revolts, both rural and urban.
We hope "Slavery and Resistance" stimulates you to learn more about the
centuries long efforts of enslaved Africans to resist and to seek their freedom.
Thomas C. Battle, Ph.D.
Moorland-Spingarn Research Center