South Vietnam Leadership

South Vietnam Leadership

France was, of course, a long time American ally so it should come as no surprise that the United States supported France’s colonial policies.

French Indochina

Vietnam was one of France’s colonies. Under its rule, Bảo Đại, a member of the  Nguyễn dynasty, had succeeded as emperor in 1926 and a figurehead ruler.

Japan ruled the area under Đại during World War II.

In 1944, optimistic of Allied success in the Pacific,  President Roosevelt wrote that “Indo-China should not go back to France…France has had the country…one hundred years, and the people are worse off than they were at the beginning.”

South Vietnam Leadership

August Revolution

On August 16, 1945, two days after Japan indicated a willingness to surrender, Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh issued an appeal to the Vietnamese people urging them to seize control of their country before Allied troops arrived in Indochina.

The uprising succeeded in overthrowing Bảo Đại and gaining control both Hanoi and Saigon. The uprising became known as the “August Revolution.”

September 2, 1945: Japan formally surrendered and Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh  proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. He paraphrased the U.S. Declaration of Independence: “All men are born equal: the Creator has given us inviolable rights, life, liberty, and happiness!” and was cheered by an enormous crowd gathered in Hanoi.

The Allied powers disagreed and the British first then the French attempted to gain control of the region.

South Vietnam Leadership

Bảo Đại returns

South Vietnam Leadership

On March 8, 1949, France recognized an ‘independent’ State of Vietnam, with emperor Bảo Đại as returning as head of government and on February 7, 1950  the United States recognized Vietnam under the leadership of Đại, not Ho Chi Minh. The USSR and China had recognized Ho Chi Minh’s authority.

That same year, the United States announced military and financial support for the pro-French government in Vietnam.

South Vietnam Leadership

Indochina War

War broke out between the French and north Vietnam.

April 7, 1954: President Dwight D. Eisenhower coined one of the most famous Cold War phrases when he suggests the fall of French Indochina to the communists could create a “domino” effect in Southeast Asia.

April 26 – July 20, 1954: the Geneva Conference held. It was intended to settle Indochina’s political and territorial issues following World War II.

It was during the conference, on May 7, that Vietnamese forces occupied the French command post at Dien Bien Phu and the French commander ordered his troops to cease fire.

The battle had lasted 55 days. Three thousand French troops were killed, 8,000 wounded. The Viet Minh suffered much worse, with 8,000 dead and 12,000 wounded, but the Vietnamese victory shattered France’s resolve to carry on the war.

South Vietnam Leadership

Geneva Conference

South Vietnam Leadership

Three successor states were created from the partition of French Indochina: the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Kingdom of Laos, and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the state led by Ho Chi Minh and Viet Minh.

The State of Vietnam was reduced to the southern part of Vietnam. The division of Vietnam was intended to be temporary, with elections planned by July 1956 to reunify the country.

On June 4, 1954, French and Vietnamese officials signed treaties in Paris.

South Vietnam Leadership

Ngô Đình Diệm

South Vietnam Leadership

July 7, 1954: with Bảo Đại still emperor, Ngô Đình Diệm became Prime Minister and established his new government in South Vietnam with a cabinet of 18 people.

July 21, 1954: the Geneva Accords concluded the Geneva Conference with the division of Vietnam into two countries along the 17th parallel of latitude with elections scheduled for 1956.

October 24, 1954: President Eisenhower wrote to Diệm and promised direct assistance to his government. Eisenhower made it clear to Diệm that U.S. aid to his government during Vietnam’s “hour of trial” was contingent upon his assurances of the “standards of performance [he] would be able to maintain in the event such aid were supplied.”

Eisenhower called for land reform and a reduction of government corruption. Diệm agreed to the “needed reforms” stipulated as a precondition for receiving aid, but he never actually followed through on his promises. Ultimately his refusal to make any substantial changes to meet the needs of the people led to extreme civil unrest and eventually a coup by dissident South Vietnamese generals in which Diệm and his brother were murdered.

Battle of Saigon

April 27, 1955: The Battle of Saigon began.

President Eisenhower had previously decided to cease US support for Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm and let him be ousted, but on April 28, 1955, US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles told the National Security Council to hold off on allowing the ousting of Diệm pending the outcome of the Battle of Saigon.

It was a month-long fight between the Vietnamese National Army  (VNA) of the State of Vietnam (later to become the Army of the Republic of Vietnam) and the private army of the Bình Xuyên organised crime syndicate.

At the time, the Bình Xuyên was licensed with controlling the national police by Emperor Bảo Đại. Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm issued an ultimatum for them to surrender and come under state control.

The VNA largely crushed the Bình Xuyên within a week.

Fighting was mostly concentrated in the inner city Chinese business district of Cholon. The densely crowded area saw some 500 – 1000 deaths and up to 20,000 civilians made homeless in the cross-fire.

In the end, the Bình Xuyên were decisively defeated, their army disbanded and their vice operations collapsed.

South Vietnam Leadership

National Referendum

July 7, 1955: on the first anniversary of his installation as Prime Minister, Diệm announced that a national referendum would be held to determine the future of the country.

July 16, 1955: Diệm announced his intention to not take part in the reunification elections negotiated in : “We will not be tied down by the [Geneva] treaty that was signed against the wishes of the Vietnamese people.”

October 6, 1955: Ngô Đình Diệm announced the referendum would be held on 23 October The election was open to men and women aged 18 or over, and the government arranged to have a polling station set up for every 1,000 registered voters.

Bảo Đại, who had spent much of his time in France and advocated a monarchy. Diệm ran on a republican platform.

October 23, 1955: Ngo Dinh Diệm reportedly received 98.2% of the votes, a difficult winning percentage to believe which was further supported by the fact that the total number of votes for exceeded the number of registered voters by over 380,000.

South Vietnam Leadership

President Ngô Đình Diệm

Republic of Vietnam

October 26, 1955: Ngô Đình Diệm  proclaimed the formation of the Republic of Vietnam, with himself as its first President.

In 1957, Diệm embarked on a two-week visit to the United States. He flew from Hawaii on President Dwight Eisenhower’s private plane, Columbine III. President Eisenhower personally greeted Diệm at the National Airport  where Diệm received full military honors including a 21-gun salute.

On May 9,  Diệm addressed a Joint Meeting, presided over by Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn of Texas and Vice President Richard M. Nixon of California. Diệm expressed gratitude to the United States for “moral and material aid.”

Five Year Miracle

July 7, 1959: on the fifth anniversary of Diệm’s coming to power, a NY Times editorial stated: a five year miracle has been carried out. Vietnam is free and becoming stronger in defense of its freedom and ours. There is reason today to salute president Ngo Dihn Diệm.”

South Vietnam Leadership

Attempted overthrows

November 11, 1960: Lieutenant Colonel Vương Văn Đông and Colonel Nguyễn Chánh Thi of the Airborne Division of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam led a failed coup attempt against Diệm .

February 27, 1962: Second Lieutenant Nguyễn Văn Cử and First Lieutenant Phạm Phú Quốc targeted Independence Palace, Diệm and his immediate family’s official residence.

The attempt failed. Cử escaped to Cambodia, but Quốc was arrested and imprisoned.

South Vietnam Leadership

Troubled waters

December 2, 1962: following a trip to Vietnam at President John F. Kennedy’s request, Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Montana) became the first U.S. official to refuse to make an optimistic public comment on the progress of the war.

Originally a supporter of  Diệm, Mansfield changed his opinion of the situation after his visit. He claimed that the $2 billion the United States had poured into Vietnam during the previous seven years had accomplished nothing. He placed blame squarely on the Diệm regime for its failure to share power and win support from the South Vietnamese people.

He suggested that Americans, despite being motivated by a sincere desire to stop the spread of communism, had simply taken the place formerly occupied by the French colonial power in the minds of many Vietnamese. Mansfield’s change of opinion surprised and irritated Kennedy.

South Vietnam Leadership

Diệm cracks down

Flags banned

May 6, 1963: President Diệm issued a proclamation banning the flying of all religious flags throughout the country. He said he found their use “disorderly,” but his actual aim was to keep the flags from becoming symbols of resistance to his regime.

Huế Phật Đản shootings

May 8, 1963: the deaths of nine unarmed Buddhist civilians in the  Huế at the hands of  Roman Catholic fundamentalist government Ngô Đình Diệm’s army and security forces.

The army and police fired guns and launched grenades into a crowd of Buddhists who had been protesting against the government ban on the flying of the Buddhist flag on the day of Phật Đản, which commemorates the birth of Gautama Buddha.

Diệm’s denial of governmental responsibility for the incident—he instead blamed the Việt Cộng—added to discontent among the Buddhist majority.

Quang Duc

June 11, 1963: Buddhist monk Quang Duc publicly burned himself to death in a plea for President Ngo Dinh Diệm to show “charity and compassion” to all religions. Diệm remained stubborn despite continued Buddhist protests and repeated U.S. requests to liberalize his government’s policies.

More Buddhist monks immolated themselves during ensuing weeks. Madame Nhu, the president’s sister-in-law, referred to the burnings as “barbecues” and offered to supply matches.

June 16, 1963: President Diệm and Buddhist negotiations issued a joint communique meant to defuse the religious conflict: the ban on religious flags would be eased and the Hue incident of May 8 would be fully investigated.

South Vietnam Leadership

Diệm cuts phone lines

August 21, 1963: after Diệm promised outgoing US Ambassador Frederick Nolting to take no further repressive steps against the Buddhists and before the new American ambassador, Henry Cabot Lodge, arrived, Diệm and his brother Ngô Đình Nhu (Diệm’s chief political adviser) ordered that phone lines of all the senor American officials in Saigon be cut and then sent out hundreds of their Special Forces into pagodas of Saigon, Hue, and other cities.

The Special Forces rounded up  and took away more than fourteen hundred monks and nuns, students, and ordinary citizens. Martial law was imposed, public meetings forbidden, and troops were authorized to shoot anyone found on the streets after nine o’clock.

South Vietnam Leadership


August 24, 1963: assistant secretary of state for Far Eastern affairs, Roger Hilsman Jr, took it upon himself to draft a cable to new US Ambassador to Vietnam, Henry Cabot Lodge, stating that the US government could no longer tolerate the situation in which “power lies in Nhu’s hands.”

Lodge was to tell key military leaders that “we must face the possibility that Diệm himself cannot be preserved.” Kennedy on vacation and preoccupied with other domestic matters, approved the cable.

South Vietnam’s military leaders backed off from a coup.

South Vietnam Leadership

Military Revolutionary Council

November 1, 1963: South Vietnamese general Dương Văn Minh, acting with the support of the CIA, launched a military coup which removed Diệm from power.

November 2, 1963: Ngo Dinh Diệm and brother Ngô Đình Nhu surrendered, but were murdered.  ‘

The Military Revolutionary Council, as it called itself, dissolved Diệm’s rubber stamp National Assembly and the constitution of 1956. They vowed support free elections, unhindered political opposition, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, an end to discrimination, and that the purpose of the coup was to bolster the fight against the Vietcong.

November 5, 1964: South Vietnam’s five generals decided on a two-tier government structure with a military committee overseen by Dương Văn Minh presiding over a regular cabinet that would be predominantly civilian with Nguyễn Ngọc Thơ as Prime Minister, , Minister of Economy, and Minister of Finance.

November 8, 1964: US Government recognized the new South Vietnam government.

South Vietnam Leadership


General Nguyễn Khánh

January 30, 1964: General Nguyễn Khánh ousted General Dương Văn Minh from the leadership without firing a shot. It came less than three months after Minh’s junta had come to power in a bloody coup against then President Ngô Đình Diệm.

The coup was bloodless and took less than a few hours—after power had been seized Minh’s aide and bodyguard, Major Nguyễn Văn Nhung was arrested and summarily executed.

The New York Times reported, ““The bloodless coup d’état executed by the short, partly bald general apparently took Saigon by surprise.

Attempted Coup Deux

Before dawn on September 13, 1964, a coup attempt headed by Generals Lâm Văn Phát and Dương Văn Đức  threatened the ruling military junta of South Vietnam, led by General Nguyễn Khánh.

Generals Lâm Văn Phát and Dương Văn Đức  sent dissident units into the capital Saigon. They captured various key points and announced over national radio the overthrow of the incumbent regime. With the help of the Americans, Khánh was able to rally support and the coup collapsed the next morning without any casualties.

Rearrangement coup

December 19, 1964: a coup took place before dawn. The ruling military junta of South Vietnam led by General Nguyễn Khánh dissolved the High National Council (HNC) and arrested some of its members. The HNC was an un-elected legislative-style civilian advisory body they had created at the request of the United States.

Military coup

February 19, 1965: some units of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam commanded by General Lâm Văn Phát and Colonel Phạm Ngọc Thảo launched a coup against General Nguyễn Khánh.

Their aim was to install General Trần Thiện Khiêm, a Khánh rival who had been sent to Washington D.C. as Ambassador to the United States to prevent him from seizing power.

The attempted coup reached a stalemate, and although the trio did not take power, a group of officers led by General Nguyễn Chánh Thi and Air Marshal Nguyễn Cao Kỳ, and hostile to both the plot and to Khánh himself, were able to force a leadership change and take control themselves with the support of American officials, who had lost confidence in Khánh.

Phan Huy Quát was appointed Prime Minister.

South Vietnam Leadership

General Nguyễn Khánh

February 20, 1965: Nguyễn Khánh was able to get troops to take over from the insurgents without any resistance. Meanwhile, Air Vice Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky met with the dissident officers and agreed to their demand for the dismissal of Khanh.

South Vietnam Leadership


February 21, 1965: the Armed Forces Council dismissed Gen Nguyễn Khánh as chairman and as commander of the armed forces. General Lâm Văn Phát replaced him.

February 22, 1965: General Nguyễn Khánh announced that he had accepted the council’s decision. Although he was hastily given the title of ambassador at large, General Khánh would never again play a significant role in his country’s future.

Phan Huy Quát resigns

June 14, 1965: mounting Roman Catholic opposition to South Vietnamese Premier Phan Huy Quát’s government led him to resign.

National Leadership Committee

On the same day, a military triumvirate headed by Army General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu took over and expanded to a 10-man National Leadership Committee.

The Committee decreed the death penalty for Viet Cong (aka, National Liberation Front) terrorists, corrupt officials, speculators, and black marketeers.

Catholics  warned the military against favoring the Buddhists, who asked for an appointment of civilians to the new cabinet.

Nguyễn Cao Kỳ

On June 19, 1965, Nguyễn Cao Kỳ was appointed prime minister by a special joint meeting of military leaders following the voluntary resignation of civilian president Phan Khắc Sửu and Prime Minister Quát,

South Vietnam Leadership

Buddhist Struggle

May 15, 1966: on Premier Ky’s orders, without notifying  Thieu or the U.S., a pro-government military force arrived in Da Nang to take control of the city from the Buddhist Struggle movement protesting against the government and American influence.

May 18, 1966: U.S. Marines faced off against pro-Buddhist ARVN soldiers at a bridge near Da Nang. A few shots were exchanged and the ARVN soldiers attempted to blow up the bridge. General Lewis William Walt, the commander of the U.S. Marines in South Vietnam, was present and directed the Marines to secure the bridge.

May 24, 1966: the government of South Vietnam regained full control of Da Nang from the pro-Buddhist Struggle Movement. In the fighting, approximately 150 South Vietnamese soldiers were killed. 23 Americans were wounded.

South Vietnam Leadership

President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu

September 3, 1967: Nguyen Van Thieu, the candidate of the armed forces, won a four-year term as President of South Vietnam.

He was re-elected on October 2, 1971 without opposition in what was widely viewed as a rigged election.

He remained in power until April 21, 1975 when he resigned, condemning the United States for its lack of promised support following the US military withdrawal.

He will die in 2001.

South Vietnam Leadership
Please follow and like us:

Woodstock Stage Discovered

Woodstock Stage Discovered

Woodstock Stage Discovered

The most common question visitors to the Woodstock field ask is “Where was the stage?”

It is a simply enough question to answer when standing at the top of the field or in the field’s corner near Wayne Saward‘s monument: At the bottom toward the gravelly northeast section of the field.

Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has plans to erect a permanent marking of the stage area and the 2019 special exhibit in the Museum will actually use some of the original stage’s plywood.

Where’s the Woodstock wood been?

Not where you’d think.

Woodstock Stage Discovered

Money not nostalgia

In the afterglow of the most famous festival in American (the world?) history, Woodstock Ventures wanted to clean up and move on as quickly as possible. Money worries and law suits were upon them and warranted their time.

Woodstock Stage Discovered

Steve Gold

Steve Gold was 15 in 1969 and had attended the concert. Five weeks later he was visiting the Robi-Lane bungalow colony his girlfriend Robin’s father owned in  nearby Woodbourne, NY. Dad asked him to help unload wood panels from his truck. No fool Steve and knowing how to keep on both Robin’s Dad and Robin’s good side, Steve said sure.

Dad also happened to mention that the wood had come from the Woodstock Music and Art Fair stage.

Luckily, the story only sort of ends there.

Woodstock Stage Discovered


As with many Woodstock alum, the Fair’s upcoming golden anniversary spurred old memories.  And Steve Gold remembered unloading wood.

Entertainment had become part of his life. His professional career  included stints as a concert promoter, entertainment marketing executive, a managing executive of The Saint, home of the famed Fillmore East and what was once the largest dance club in New York City, and executive director of the Palladium.

Woodstock Stage Discovered

Upstate trip

Woodstock Stage Discovered

He and a friend took a ride to the site of the now sold bungalow colony. He thought he remembered where the wood  would be, but it wasn’t there.

After a search around, they found what they were looking for. A  paddleball court.

Yup. That’s what the Robin’s Dad had used the wood for. The outside of the plywood was well-worn, but after removing nails and getting to the unexposed sides, Steve became surer and surer he had hit gold.

Woodstock Stage Discovered

We removed several panels to look for stage markings we had seen in hundreds of festival pictures and the Woodstock movie to identify it was the real deal,” he recounts.  “I knew it had to be because of the Weyerhaeuser (lumber company) logos etched into the stage floor panels and because of the distinctively-colored paint splatters.

Woodstock Stage Discovered


Woodstock Stage Discovered

Weyerhauser tested some samples, they reported that the age of the pieces matched those of 1969.

Gold also took some of the panels to Wood Science Consulting, a  company specializing in the engineering uses of wood and wood-based products.  And after much testing, the wood was authenticated as the original flooring of the Woodstock stage.

Woodstock Stage Discovered

Charitable help

Gold and his two partners, Dave Marks and Randy Garcia, , are selling pieces of the stage and some of the proceeds will be donated to charities benefiting Vietnam veterans, the homeless and the hungry, and gun law reform efforts established by families of mass shooting victims.

Woodstock Stage Discovered

Link to Poughkeepsie Journal article on Gold w video.

Please follow and like us:

American Slave Revolts

American Slave Revolts

Growing up it was easy to believe the lie that the American slaves didn’t mind being slaves. Their owners took care of them; provided a place for them to live; provided food and clothing.

The American Negro, we were told, weren’t a capable as whites anyway, so the caring for slaves was as much an act of mercy as it was an economic benefit.

Such fake news.

American Slave Revolts


August 19, 1619: the first enslaved Africans arrived in the Virginia colony at Point Comfort on the James River. There, “20 and odd Negroes” from the White Lion, an English ship, were sold in exchange for food; the remaining Africans were transported to Jamestown and sold into slavery.

Historians have long believed that these first African slaves in the colonies came from the Caribbean but Spanish records suggest they were captured in the Portuguese colony of Angola, in West Central Africa.

While aboard the ship São João Bautista bound for Mexico, they were stolen by two English ships, the White Lion and the Treasurer. Once in Virginia, the enslaved Africans were dispersed throughout the colony.

American Slave Revolts

Revolts begin

That any human would want to be held against their will as long as their “owner” chose is incomprehensible after a moment’s thought, but the belief persisted. And any attempted insurrection was violently put down and then denied. The victors wrote the history and they left out revolts.

But revolts there were…

Servents’ Plot

September 13, 1663: first serious slave conspiracy in colonial America. White servants and black slaves conspired to revolt in Gloucester County, VA, but were betrayed by a fellow servant.

American Slave Revolts

Early 1700s

Newton, Long Island

American Slave Revolts

February 28, 1708: seven white people were killed in Newton, Long Island. Following the rebellion, two black male slaves and an Indian slave were hanged, and a black woman was burned alive.


In 1709: a plot involving enslaved Indians as well as Africans spread through at least three Virginia counties—James City, Surry, and Isle of Wight. Of the four ringleaders, Scipio, Salvadore, Tom Shaw, and Peter, all but Peter were quickly jailed.

Virginia a year later

April 20 (Easter), 1710: another Virginia conspiracy in the same area as 1709—perhaps inspired by Peter and involving only African American slaves—was to have begun on Easter 1710.

A slave named Will, however, betrayed it to authorities. Will got his freedom and his owner Robert Ruffin was reimbursed for his value with £40 of public money.

Two of the plot’s leaders were tried by the General Court, convicted, and executed. Wrote Governor Edmund Jenings in his report to the London Lords of Trade, “I hope their fate will strike such terror in the other negroes as will keep them from forming such designs for the future, without being obliged to make an example of any more of them.”

American Slave Revolts


New York City

American Slave Revolts

April 6, 1712: New York City had a large enslaved population and the city’s whites feared the threat of rebellion. Enslaved people in New York City suffered many of the same brutal punishments and methods of control faced by their counterparts toiling on Southern plantations. The labor demands of urban life required enslaved people to move frequently throughout the city to complete tasks. This brought greater freedom of movement and communication for the enslaved, which they used to organize a rebellion against their harsh living conditions and lack of autonomy.

Organizers from several ethnic groups, including the Akans of West Africa, who viewed the colonial master-servant relationship as a violation of Akan tradition; the Caromantees and Paw-Paws, also of West Africa, who rejected the brutality of slavery; Spanish-speaking Native Americans who viewed themselves as free people who had been illegally enslaved; and Creoles, who joined in protest of their status and harsh treatment, came together to plan a revolt.

The coalition set fire to a building in the center of the city. Armed with hatchets, knives, and guns, the rebels attacked whites as they arrived at the fire, killing nine and injuring seven. Colonial Governor Robert Hunter dispatched troops to quell the rebellion. The troops arrested some rebels and captured others who fled into the woods. Six of the revolt’s organizers reportedly committed suicide, twenty-one accused rebels were convicted and executed, and thirteen were acquitted and returned to bondage.

American Slave Revolts


Governor Hugh Drysdale, VA

In 1722: When Hugh Drysdale arrived in Williamsburg in 1722 to begin his term as Virginia’s governor, he found the jail full of mutinous slaves awaiting trial. Three of the leaders were convicted of “Conspiring among themselves and with the said other Slaves to kill murder & destroy very many” of His Majesty’s subjects and sentenced to be sold out of the colony. According to Drysdale, their design “…was to cutt off their masters, and possess themselves of the country; but as this would have been as impracticable in the attempt as it was foolish in the contrivance, I can foresee no other consequence of this conspiracy than the stirring upp the next Assembly to make more severe laws for keeping their slaves in greater subjection etc.”

Every slave rebellion or rumor of plotting resulted in laws increasing the severity of punishment, curtailing slaves’ movements, and restricting their ability to assemble, attend funerals or religious services, or possess weapons.

American Slave Revolts


Governor William Gooch, VA

1730: Virginia’s Governor William Gooch reported to the Board of Trade that another slave uprising had been scotched. The spark was a false rumor that “His Majesty had sent Orders for setting of them free as soon as they were Christians, and that these Orders were Suppressed.” Gooch tried to learn the source of this falsehood and called out the militia to take up any slave found off his master’s plantation. “A great many” were made prisoner and were whipped for “rambling Abroad,” and by this method Gooch hoped “to Convince them that their best way is to rest contented with their Condition.”

1730: Six months after the above revolt, another insurrection began. Governor Gooch wrote: Negros, in the Countys of Norfolk & Princess Anne, had the boldness to Assemble on a Sunday while the People were at Church, and to Chuse from amongst themselves Officers to Comand them in their intended Insurrection, which was to have been put in Execution very soon after: But this Meeting being happily discovered and many of them taken up and examined, the whole Plot was detected.

After a trial, four ringleaders were executed and the rest harshly punished.

 South Carolina Security Act

Mid-August, 1739:  South Carolina Security Act. The Act was a response to the white’s fears of insurrection, the act required that all white men carry firearms to church on Sundays, a time when whites usually didn’t carry weapons and slaves were allowed to work for themselves. Anyone who didn’t comply with the new law by September 29 would be subjected to a fine.

Stono Riverm, SC

September 9, 1739: early on the morning of the 9th, a Sunday, about twenty slaves gathered near the Stono River in St. Paul’s Parish, less than twenty miles from Charlestown. SC. The slaves went to a shop that sold firearms and ammunition, armed themselves, then killed the two shopkeepers who were manning the shop. From there the band walked to the house of a Mr. Godfrey, where they burned the house and killed Godfrey and his son and daughter. They headed south. It was not yet dawn when they reached Wallace’s Tavern. Because the innkeeper at the tavern was kind to his slaves, his life was spared. The white inhabitants of the next six or so houses they reach were not so lucky — all were killed. The slaves belonging to Thomas Rose successfully hid their master, but they were forced to join the rebellion. (They would later be rewarded. See Report re. Stono Rebellion Slave-Catchers.) Other slaves willingly joined the rebellion. By eleven in the morning, the group was about 50 strong. The few whites whom they now encountered were chased and killed, though one individual, Lieutenant Governor Bull, eluded the rebels and rode to spread the alarm.

The slaves stopped in a large field late that afternoon, just before reaching the Edisto River. They had marched over ten miles and killed between twenty and twenty-five whites.

Around four in the afternoon, somewhere between twenty and 100 whites had set out in armed pursuit. When they approached the rebels, the slaves fired two shots. The whites returned fire, bringing down fourteen of the slaves. By dusk, about thirty slaves were dead and at least thirty had escaped. Most were captured over the next month, then executed; the rest were captured over the following six months — all except one who remained a fugitive for three years.

American Slave Revolts



March and April 1741: series of suspicious fires and reports of slave conspiracy led to general hysteria in New York City,

Thirty-one slaves, five whites executed.


January 6, 1773: Massachusetts slaves petitioned legislature for freedom. There were 8 such petitions during the Revolutionary War period.

American Slave Revolts

Toussaint Louverture

August 22, 1791: Haiti slave revolt. Former slave Toussaint Louverture led a slave revolt in Haiti, West Indies. He is captured in 1802, but the revolt continues and Haitian independence is declared.

The event terrified Southern slave owners and supporters of slavery.

American Slave Revolts

Gabriel Prosser

August 30, 1800:  in the spring of 1800, Gabriel Prosser, a deeply religious man, began plotting an invasion of Richmond, Virginia and an attack on its armory.

By summer he had enlisted more than 1,000 slaves and collected an armory of weapons, organizing the first large-scale slave revolt in the U.S. On the day of the revolt, the bridges leading to Richmond are destroyed in a flood, and Prosser was betrayed.

The state militia attacked, and Prosser and 35 of his men were hanged on October 10, 1800.

October 28, 2002:  the City Council in Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy, unanimously voted to honor Gabriel Prosser.  The resolution called him an ”American patriot and freedom fighter” and added that ”This resolution seeks to correct an error in history whereby Gabriel has been seen by many as a criminal,’‘ Councilman Sa’ad El-Amin told the Council.

American Slave Revolts

Nat Turner

October 2, 1800: Nat Turner born  in Southampton County, Virginia, the week Gabriel  Prosser was hanged. While still a young child, Nat was overheard describing events that had happened before he was born. This, along with his keen intelligence, and other signs marked him in the eyes of his people as a prophet “intended for some great purpose.” [see Turner for expanded story]

American Slave Revolts

Charles Deslondes

January 8, 1811: Charles Deslondes led a rebellion of some 500 enslaved black people in New Orleans, Louisiana, in what became known as the German Coast Uprising.

After black people in Haiti won their independence from the French in 1804 following a thirteen-year war, surviving white planters relocated from Haiti to Orleans Territory (now the State of Louisiana). Many brought with them enslaved black laborers, including Charles Deslondes, who had been born into slavery in Haiti. Orleans Territory’s black population tripled between 1803 and 1811, leaving whites fearful of a black rebellion.

In early January 1811, Charles Deslondes convened a meeting of enslaved black people to plan an anti-slavery rebellion in New Orleans. The rebellion began on January 8, 1811, with a plantation attack that left one white man dead. The rebels then traveled along the Mississippi River, attacking plantations and recruiting more fighters. Some enslaved blacks joined the rebels, while others warned their masters and tried to avert plantation attacks. Many whites escaped across the river.

January 11, 1811: a militia of white planters confronted Charles Deslondes and the rebels in a brief battle, killing many and forcing others to flee. Deslondes and his supporters were captured. Some were returned to their plantations; others were tried and executed, their corpses publicly displayed as warning against future uprisings. The final death toll included two whites and ninety-five blacks. The territorial legislature later voted to financially compensate whites whose enslaved black laborers had been killed.

American Slave Revolts

Fort Blount revolt

In 1816: Fort Blount revolt Three hundred slaves and about 20 Native American allies hold Fort Blount on Apalachicola Bay, Florida for several days before being attacked by U.S. troops.

American Slave Revolts

Denmark Vesey

May 30, 1822: Denmark Vesey’s revolt.   Vesey had won a lottery and purchased his emancipation in 1800. He was working as a carpenter in Charleston, South Carolina when he started  to plan a massive slave rebellion—one of the most elaborate plots in American history—involving thousands of slaves on surrounding plantations, organized into cells. They planned to start a major fire at night and then kill the slave owners and their families. the plan was foiled when a black house servant named George Wilson informed his master of the pending revolt. Charleston authorities promptly arrested and interrogated dozens of suspected conspirators. Mr. Vesey was captured on June 22 and tortured but he refused to identify his comrades.

A total of 131 men was arrested; 67 were convicted and 35, including Denmark Vesey, were executed. The city destroyed Mr. Vesey’s church building. Mr. Vesey and his followers inspired abolitionists and black soldiers through the Civil War.

June 17, 2015: Dylann Storm, Roof, 21, opened fire at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Charleston, SC) around 9 p.m. and began shooting, killing nine people before fleeing. He was captured several hours later.

Police chief, Greg Mullen, called the shooting a hate crime.

“This is a tragedy that no community should have to experience,” he said. “It is senseless and unfathomable that someone would go into a church where people were having a prayer meeting and take their lives.” Eight people died at the scene, Mullen said. Two people were taken to the Medical University of South Carolina, and one of them died on the way.

In 1822, one of the church’s co-founders, Denmark Vesey, tried to foment a slave rebellion in Charleston, the church’s website says. The plot was foiled by the authorities and 35 people were executed, including Mr. Vesey.

American Slave Revolts

Underground Railroad

From 1831–1862: The Underground Railroad Approximately 75,000 slaves escape to the North and to freedom via the Underground Railroad, a system in which free African American and white “conductors,” abolitionists and sympathizers help guide and shelter the escapees.

American Slave Revolts

Amistad revolt

American Slave Revolts

July 2, 1839: Joseph Cinqué led fifty-two fellow captive Africans, recently abducted from the British protectorate of Sierra Leone by Portuguese slave traders, in a revolt aboard the Spanish schooner Amistad. The ship’s navigator, who was spared in order to direct the ship back to western Africa, managed, instead, to steer it northward. When the Amistad was discovered off the coast of Long Island, New York, it was hauled into New London, Connecticut by the U.S. Navy.

President Martin Van Buren, guided in part by his desire to woo pro-slavery votes in his upcoming bid for reelection, wanted the prisoners returned to Spanish authorities in Cuba to stand trial for mutiny. A Connecticut judge, however, issued a ruling recognizing the defendants’ rights as free citizens and ordering the U.S. government to escort them back to Africa. John

August 26, 1839: Americans captured the Amistad (“Friendship”), a Spanish slave ship seized by the 54 Africans who had been carried as cargo on board, which had landed on Long Island, N.Y. At the time, the transportation of slaves from Africa to the U.S. was illegal so the ship owners lied and said the Africans had been born in Cuba.

March 9, 1841: In the Amistad case the U.S. government eventually appealed the case to the Supreme Court. Former president John Quincy Adams, who represented the Amistad Africans in the Supreme Court case, argued in his defense that it was the illegally enslaved Africans, rather than the Cubans, who “were entitled to all the kindness and good offices due from a humane and Christian nation.”

The Amistad survivors were aided, in their defense, by the American Missionary Association, an organization affiliated with the effort to colonize freed slaves overseas. African-American Mosaic includes information about the history of the colonization movement, the colonization of slaves in Liberia, and personal stories of former slaves who chose to move overseas.

The Supreme Court issued a ruling freeing the remaining thirty-five survivors of the Amistad mutiny. Although seven of the nine justices on the court hailed from Southern states, only one dissented from Justice Joseph Story’s majority opinion. Private donations ensured the Africans’ safe return to Sierra Leone in January 1842.

Adams’s victory in the Amistad case was a significant success for the abolition movement.

American Slave Revolts

Slave ship Creole

November 7, 1841: a slave revolt occurred on a slave trader ship, the ‘Creole,’ which was en route from Hampton, Va., to New Orleans, La.,. Slaves overpowered crew and sailed vessel to Bahamas where they were granted asylum and freedom.

American Slave Revolts

Ellen Craft and William

December 25, 1848: Ellen Craft and William were slaves from Macon, Georgia who escaped to the north in December 1848 by traveling openly by train and steamboat, arriving in Philadelphia on Christmas Day. She posed as a white male planter and he as her personal servant. Their daring escape was widely publicized, making them among the most famous of fugitive slaves. Abolitionists featured them in public lectures to gain support in the struggle to end the institution. As the light-skinned mixed-race daughter of a mulatto slave and her white master, Ellen Craft used her appearance to pass as a white man, dressed in appropriate clothing.

American Slave Revolts

Harriet Tubman

American Slave Revolts

In 1849: Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery in Maryland. She became one of the best-known “conductors” on the Underground Railroad, returning to the South 19 times and helping more than 300 slaves escape to freedom.

American Slave Revolts

Compromise of 1850

Fugitive Slave Law

September 18, 1850: Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law or Fugitive Slave Act as part of the Compromise of 1850 between Southern slave-holding interests and Northern Free-Soilers. This was one of the most controversial acts of the 1850 compromise and heightened Northern fears of a “slave power conspiracy”. It declared that all runaway slaves were, upon capture, to be returned to their masters. Abolitionists nicknamed it the “Bloodhound Law” for the dogs that were used to track down runaway slaves.

Thomas Sims

American Slave Revolts

April 3, 1851: in early 1851, Thomas Sims, a slave from Savannah, Georgia, successfully escaped and fled to Boston, Massachusetts, where slavery had been abolished. Only a few weeks later, on April 3, 1851, Sims was arrested by a United States Marshal and members of the local police force and taken to the federal courthouse. Fearing riots or an escape attempt, authorities surrounded the courthouse with chains and a heavy police force.

The morning after his capture, attorneys for James Potter, the man who purported to own Sims, presented a complaint to the United States Commissioner. After a short proceeding in which several individuals testified that Sims was the slave who had escaped from Potter’s possession, the Commissioner issued an order remanding Sims back to Georgia. Sims sought review from both the Massachusetts Supreme Court and the United States District Court in Boston, but was unsuccessful. On April 12, Sims left Boston and was returned to Savannah, where he promptly received 39 lashes as punishment for seeking freedom. The marshals who escorted Sims to Georgia received praise and a public dinner for their service.

After the Emancipation Proclamation and in the midst of the Civil War, Thomas Sims again escaped from slavery in 1863, this time fleeing Vicksburg, Mississippi, to return to Boston.

Syracuse, NY
American Slave Revolts
Jerry Rescue Monument

October 1, 1851: citizens of Syracuse, N.Y., broke into the city’s police station and freed William Henry (known as Jerry), a runaway slave who had been working as a barrel-maker. A group of black and white men created a diversion and managed to free Jerry, but he was later rearrested. At his second hearing, a group of men, their skin color disguised with burnt cork, forcibly overpowered the guards with clubs and axes, and freed Jerry a second time. He was then secretly taken over the border to Canada.

American Slave Revolts

John Brown

Harper’s Ferry

October 16 – 17, 1859: Harper’s Ferry attack Led by abolitionist John Brown: a group of slaves and white abolitionists staged an attack on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. They capture the federal armory and arsenal before the insurrection was halted by local militia under the leadership of Robert E Lee. The raid hastens the advent of the Civil War, which started two years later.

October 25 – November 2, 1859: trial of John Brown.


December 2, 1859: militant abolitionist John Brown was hanged for murder and treason in the wake an unsuccessful attack on the US armory at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. An interesting fact is that, the evening before Brown was executed, a group of soldiers slept in the courtroom. One of them was John Wilkes Booth.

American Slave Revolts
Please follow and like us: