Rebellion The most direct but least frequent form of slave resistance was open rebellion, in which the slaves sought to overthrow their masters and then either flee elsewhere or completely topple the slave regime. Benin Subway Map In some instances, rebellions broke out spontaneously as a response to physical or sexual assault; scores of masters and overseers were injured or killed by slaves who suddenly rose up in self-defense. More common, however, were premeditated rebellions in which the target was slave society as a whole, not any specific individual.
Even in these moments, however, rebels usually did not harm whites who were perceived as sympathetic, including Quakers, Catholics, French nationals, and anyone who had individually established good relations with them. Premeditated rebellions could be inspired by rumors of imminent emancipation, the presence of free blacks, economic depression, or international conflicts. Combinations of these forces in fact led to large waves of slave resistance during the 1730s, the Seven Years’ War, and the Revolution. It was more common, however, for slave rebels to act without any external influence, responding to nothing more than the oppressive brutality of their slave existence.