• patricia tonui

Little George ship revolt(1730)

In June 1730, the British ship Little George was the site of the Little George Ship Revolt. The little-known insurrection was one of the most effective captive African uprisings on the high seas in history. Five days after the Little George sailed from the coast of Guinea to carry kidnapped Africans to the British North American colony of Rhode Island, an insurrection broke out. The uprising occurred when a group of Africans managed to free themselves from their iron chains, overpower the crew, and sail the ship back to Africa, specifically the Sierra Leone River, where they abandoned it.


Map of Sierra Leone and Guinea, ca. 1700


Captain George Scott sailed his ship, the Little George, to Rhode Island on June 1, 1730, carrying 96 captured Africans from the Bonnana Islands off the coast of Guinea (West Africa). The seized Africans were supposed to be sold as slaves there. Five days into the Atlantic crossing, the captives, already mistreated by the ship’s crew and packed and chained down in heavy shackles in the dark and poorly ventilated lower deck of the ship, rose in revolt. Several hostages broke free from their iron shackles and smashed through the ship's bulkhead on June 6, 1730, at 4:00 a.m. They stole guns and killed three crew watchmen who were attempting to inform other crew members and Captain Scott after gaining access to the ship's deck.

Some of the detainees constructed a bomb out of gunpowder pressed into a bottle, which they threatened to set off. The crew surrendered to the African hostages after realizing that the explosion would have severely damaged and maybe sunk the ship. The Africans in possession of the ship were able to turn it around and sail it back to the African continent despite having no sailing or navigation experience. The Little George arrived at the mouth of the Sierra Leone River after a few days, where both the African and British crews abandoned the ship. Captain George Scott, who was later rescued by another slave ship, detailed the insurrection, leaving a record for future generations.

sources

“Eric Robert Taylor, If We Must Die: Shipboard Insurrections in the Era of the Atlantic Slave Trade (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006); James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton, Slavery and the Making of America (Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2005); Alan Galley, Colonial and Revolutionary America Text and Documents (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2010); Mss17, Harris Family Papers, 1640-1860 (Capt. George Scott Narrative, 1730), Newport, Rhode Island; also Africa. Harris Family.

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