The Black Female Warrior Who Burned Plantations Down And Freed An Insane Number Of Fellow Slaves

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Image: via KOLUMN

The unrest that swept across Jamaica in the 17th century transformed the colonial plantations into fiery wastelands of ash and cinder. Like an unbreakable fever, the desire for freedom gripped the island’s slaves. On plantation after plantation, estate after estate, they defied their oppressors and set the dreaded cane fields ablaze…

Image: The British Library

In fact, slaves had been rebelling ever since Spanish colonists brought them to the island from West Africa in the 16th century. Those who successfully escaped their masters tended to retreat into the rugged Blue Mountains of the island’s interior. There they formed “Maroon” communities or merged with existing indigenous Arawak populations. Over the years, the rebel strongholds grew strong, especially after the British invaded in 1655.

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Image: via Repeating Islands

Initially, the British established a formidable presence on the island. In fact, in the years immediately following the British conquest in 1655, there were some 12,000 white colonists living in Jamaica. But by 1662 their population had fallen by three-quarters. And without adequate numbers to enforce control over the island, the British faced a protracted slave rebellion lasting more than seven decades. One of the rebel leaders was a remarkable woman known only as “Nanny.”

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