Rebellious Passage: The Creole Revolt and America's Coastal Slave Trade

Time Period
1825 to 1860
Media Type
Black History
Civil Rights
Military History
Politics & Government
Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie

On March 18, 2021, Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie presented the Banner Lecture "Rebellious Passage" about the first comprehensive history of the ship revolt, its consequences, and its relevance to global modern slavery.

In late October 1841, the Creole left Richmond with 137 slaves bound for New Orleans. It arrived five weeks later minus the captain, one passenger, and most of the captives. Nineteen rebels had seized the U.S. slave ship en route and steered it to the British Bahamas where the slaves gained their liberty. Drawing upon a sweeping array of previously unexamined state, federal, and British colonial sources, Rebellious Passage examines the neglected maritime dimensions of the extensive US slave trade and slave revolt. The focus on south-to-south self-emancipators at sea differs from the familiar narrative of south-to-north fugitive slaves over land. Moreover, a broader hemispheric framework of clashing slavery and antislavery empires replaces an emphasis on U.S. antebellum sectional rivalry.

Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie is Professor of History at Howard University and author of several books, including Freedpeople in the Tobacco South: Virginia, 1860–1900; Rites of August First: Emancipation Day in the Black Atlantic World; Freedom's Seekers: Essays on Comparative Emancipation; and Rebellious Passage: The Creole Revolt and America's Coastal Slave Trade.

The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

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