The Stono Rebellion was a slave uprising near Charleston, South Carolina in 1739. It is unknown if a specific incident set the rebellion off -- though the recently passed Security Act may have played a part. South Carolina at the time had a majority black population and fears of an uprising were growing. The Security Act act required that all white men carry firearms to church on Sundays, a time when whites usually didn't carry weapons.

On the morning of September 9th a group of black slaves began congregating near the Stono River, about twenty miles from Charleston. They apparently decided to march to St. Augustine, Florida - where the Spanish were promising freedom. They first armed themselves at a general store -- where they killed the two shopkeepers, beheaded them, and left their heads on the store's steps. They set off chanting "Liberty" to the beat of an african drum.

Over the course of the day they stopped at houses along the road, killing whites and gathering more slaves. They did spare the owner of Wallace's Tavern because he treated his slaves well. By late afternoon they had marched 10 miles and killed between 20 and 25 whites. Their number had swelled to more than 50.

Lieutenant Governor William Bull was chased by the rebels, but got away. He formed up a group to set off in pursuit of the slaves. They caught up to the slaves before they reached the Edisto River. The posse killed 30 on the spot with approximately 30 more escaping into the woods. These too were caught over the next few months and executed. One slave was able to avoid capture for 3 years.

As a result, South Carolina passed the Negro Act of 1740. This imposed penalties on slaveowners for overworking or excessively beating slaves, but it also imposed new restrictions on slaves. It outlawed the talking drum, forbade teaching them to read English, and further tightened what little rights of mobility and personal property they had held previously.

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