11 Most Famous Slaves & Their Stories

It has been as long back as pre-history that mankind had witnessed the inhumane practice of slavery. As its fate, a slave had been treated as a commodity on which the owner had full exercise to sell, buy, give away or exchange. It is rather a stigma that slavery exists as an involuntary form of bondage. Racial and ethnic differences, debts, or punishments were the driving forces that lead to the uplift of such demeaning practice.

Slavery gained institutionalization when agricultural advances were made possible in more organized societies in which slaves were needed for certain functions. People were conquered, sold or made or enslaved as punishment to the delinquents. History has seen numerous famous slaves chained, lived and died. We bring out a few for you. Read ON!

Let’s have a list of the most famous slaves and their stories in history.

1 Frederick Douglass

Famous Slaves & Their Stories

Frederick Douglass made himself the most persuasive victim of the evils of slavery and prejudice. He suffered when his master separated his family and had to endure lashes and beatings. While it was illegal to teach slaves to read and write, Douglass still learned and secretly taught other slaves. After escaping, he began to relentlessly participate in abolitionist gatherings throughout the North and the British Isles for more than two decades. When it became clear that the Civil War was only a bloody milestone in the struggle, he spearheaded protests against prejudice in the North and against states in the South that subverted the newly conquered civil liberties of blacks.

Douglass embraced the ideal of equal liberties for all. He supported the women’s vote, saying, “We believe it is right for women to have the same rights as we claim for men,” and called for tolerance for persecuted Chinese immigrants.

2 Nat Turner

Famous Slaves & Their Stories

Rebellions of black enslaved people occurred in virtually every country, including the United States. Of the countless rebels that were, Turner had been the most remarkable one and we highlight him.

He was born on October 2, 1800 in Southampton, Virginia, to an enslaved African couple, owned by Benjamin Turner, an American landowner. Straight from childhood, his mother and his grandmother encouraged him, his self-esteem and the non-acceptance of slave status. He also claimed to have visions.

His main story began when Nat developed awareness of his important role in the process of liberation from his black community. Nat had even the conviction that he was predestined, divinely to be the leader of this movement.

At age 31, he was separated from his family and sold to Joseph Travis. And that year, in February, in the occurrence of a solar eclipse, he felt that it was time to seize and articulate a rebellion. It was propitious, because all whites were thinking that the astronomical event was a sign of God.

Initially the date chosen was July 4 but then re-mastered for August 13 and actually performed 8 days later. First they killed Benjamin and 50 more people. Soon after they released more than 75 slaves and began to plan a way to maintain this condition.

Meanwhile the Virginia authorities were alarmed, and managed to gather a militia of 3,000 men. The idea was to defeat the ex-slaves, and make the punishment exemplary. Poorly equipped, those led by Turner, did not hold out for long and were dominated, within 48 hours, after the start.

As retaliation, more than 100 black people were murdered. Nat, like Zumbi, managed to escape and tried to organize another revolt, but was arrested on October 30. On November 5, he was sentenced to death, and executed on November 11, 1831, in the city of Jerusalem, state of Virginia.

But his death was not in vain, because it motivated the discussion of the end of the slavery in the state of Virginia. And he became one of the African-American heroes of the struggle for the liberation of the slaves.

There is a book, written is logical from the viewpoint of the slave masters, telling the episode. The title is “The Confessions of Nat Turner,” written by Thomas Ruffin Gray.

3 Saint Patrick

Famous Slaves & Their Stories

Saint Patrick was a young and famous ex-slave and priest, charged with bringing the Christian doctrine to the Green Island. He was a diplomat of his time. Patrick was smart. He became intimate with what the Druids believed in and gradually merged elements of the Christian faith into the local culture.

The Holy One only “adapted” something that already existed and began to indoctrinate the Druids using the Shamrocks, to explain the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Needless to say, what was good got even better, did not it? Trino and Saint, ready! It was what the people needed to sympathize with the Christian faith.

4 Spartacus

Famous Slaves & Their Stories

Spartacus is remembered for one of the greatest greek stories in the history of slavery. One of the strongest indications of the instability of the Republican Government in Rome occurred between 73 and 71 BC, when Spartacus organized a popular slave revolt that was fighting for an end to the servile condition and better living conditions.

Spartacus was born in the Greek region of Thrace, and lived life as a shepherd, also serving in the Roman army. After leaving the military life, he organized a group of thieves who made assaults. Trapped in 73 BC, he was sold as a slave to a gladiator trainer in the Capua region, southern portion of the Italian Peninsula. Unhappy with the mistreatment and humiliation imposed by his owner, he organized a small revolt along with his fellow prisoners.

The Roman government soon arranged for the organization of troops to suppress the episode. However, contrary to what was expected, Spartacus and his other companions succeeded in overcoming the dreaded forces of the Roman army. The news soon prompted other slaves to join the band of Spartacus. In a short time, the rebels had at their disposal the force of almost 120,000 captives who allied themselves with the heroic gladiator’s cause.

With the increase of the participants, the slave revolt began to divide into two main fronts: a first that remained in the Capua and another, led by Spartacus, who advanced towards the north of the Italic Peninsula. In this new phase of the conflict, the Romans managed to slaughter a portion of the rebellious slaves. However, the band of Spartacus was able to move on to perhaps reach the birthplace of its chief leader.

Perhaps wanting to take advantage of the absence of some important military authorities, Spartacus decided to return to the south with his allies. Rome, the capital of government, was already beginning to feel visibly threatened by the triumphs of these true legions of combatant slaves.

At this point, Spartacus’s new endeavour was to return to the southern region, avoiding the city of Rome, until he reached pirate ships that would take them to the island of Sicily. Upon discovering this plan, General Crassus was better able to organize his troops and defeat the rebellious slaves. Involved by the Roman legions, the work of the slaves was finally beginning to crumble. Before the conflict was over, Spartacus tried to negotiate his surrender with General Crassus.

5 Robert Smalls

Famous Slaves & Their Stories

Robert Smalls was born in 1839 in South Carolina, in a small cabin behind the house of Henry McKee, at number 511 Prince Rue Beaufort. His mother, Lydia Polite was a slave of the McKee, and therefore Robert was born equally slave. At the age of 12 his master sent him to nearby Charleston to work for a pay check that was charged by Henry McKee himself. He firstly worked in a hotel, then as a lanterner in the streets of the city. Robert liked the sea, and managed to end up employed on the harbour docks as dock-work, rigger, and sail repairman. Slowly and steadily, he made his way and became a pilot of a barge, although the slaves were not formally granted the title. He married in 1856 and had two children.

The American Civil War began and he was assigned as a pilot of the CSS Planter, a Confederate armed military transport. On the night of May 12, 1862, the three white officers of the Planter went absent from the boat. Seeing the opportunity, Smalls with seven other crew slaves decided to sail the ship to a dock where his family and the other crew were waiting.

Smalls took part in 17 naval battles in the war, as pilot of several ships, among them the own USS Planter, now turned into a ship of the Union. And in December of 1863 would become the first captain of black ship in the history of the Navy of the United States.

In April of 1965 he returned to Charleston captaining the Planter to attend the ceremony of rising of the flag of the United States in the fort Sumter, and soon was licensed. He, however, continued in the Planter, dedicated to humanitarian missions.

Post the war, he returned to Beaufort, and bought his former master’s house and allowed his old wife to live there until his death.

He learned to read and write, set up a store and joined the Republican Party. In 1874 he was elected Congressman for South Carolina, a position he held for several legislatures. He was involved in a corruption case, but charges were withdrawn in exchange for Republicans withdrawing allegations of fraud against Democrats as well.

He finally abandoned politics and worked at Beaufort Customs until 1911. He died of malaria on February 23, 1915 at the age of 75. Your Beaufort home is listed as a National Historic Landmark. In 2004 the United States first put the name of an African American to a ship of his navy, USAV Major General Robert Smalls.

6 Aesop

Famous Slaves & Their Stories

If Aesop won’t be the famous guy here, then who will?

We all know him as a Greek storyteller who lived around the 6th century BC, attributing to him a number of fables that are popularly known as Aesop’s Fables. The ability of animals to speak and act with characteristics similar to humans, as well as the conclusion always endowed with a sense and a moral teaching, is a striking feature of his tales.

The first attempt at systematic collection of Aesop’s work was made by the philosopher Demetrius of Falero, around the year 325 BC.

The data on his life are even more obscure, and there are several disconnected accounts of possible contacts with various personalities, as well as several places that Aesop would have known, experienced, or experienced captivity. In the same way, there are several places considered as of his birth. Accounts give as a place of his origin Thrace, region of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), and as a slave in Greece, he was freed by his late master, the philosopher Janto (Xanto).

Other accounts put him as a protege of King Croesus, of Lydia, or of King Amasis in Egypt. It would have been in the midst of his travels to the east that Aesop had developed a taste for the composition of fables. As for his death, there are several reports linking his end to the city of Delphi.

7 John Thompson

Famous Slaves & Their Stories

Thompson was born on a plantation in Maryland in 1812. Slavery was the rule, and his boss, John Wagar, loved whipping the slaves, just to make sure they remained in submissive humility. When he was 12 years old, he caught Wagar’s son so hard that he was immobilized for 5 weeks. He was then loaned to a family member, Richard Thomas, who discovered that the slave was secretly learning to read and write. This secret practice enraged Thomas and he threatened him to transfer him to the plantations of the South, better known as Hell on Earth.

Arriving in Pennsylvania, Thompson got married and went back to work. But when the authorities passed picking up escaped slaves, the former slave decided to join the crew of a whaling ship, where he spent several years traveling before returning to the United States.

8 Ignatius Sancho

Famous Slaves & Their Stories

A perfect paragon of a born slave- Sancho was taken to England as a slave at the age of two. It remains unclear how he was enslaved, but it is known that Sancho later ceased to be a slave, possibly because of his master’s death. He quickly became the butler of the Duke of Montagu, and learned to read, write, an even compose songs. When Montagu died, he left a small sum for Sancho. He invested the money in a market in Westminster where he worked with his wife.

The site became a point of reference for the anti-slavery, politicians and activists of the day, and Sancho became increasingly respected and revered in the city, as the first black man to vote in an election historically.

His social involvements for the abolition of slavery earned him the name “extraordinary negro,” and well represented the capacity for education, elegance, education, and social adjustment that black slaves were accused of not having.

9 Lucy Terry

Famous Slaves & Their Stories

Lucy was bought by Ebenezer Wells to live in the small town of Deerfield. She was lifted from Africa and taken to Massachusetts for slavery. But Wells, unlike the rest of the staff at the time, integrated Lucy into the family and even baptized her when she was five.

Later in 1746, when the Abenaki tribe invaded the city, Lucy – then at age 21 – created a poem called “The Bars Fight,” which to this day is the best-known account of the episode, something unexpected for a black woman in its social context, where reading and writing were perks of the white nobility.

In 1756, she married and became free, having six children and becoming a mouthpiece in her community. Her death saw newspapers publish notes about her, something unthinkable for a woman of the day.

10 Jupiter Hammon

Famous Slaves & Their Stories

Born in 1711, Jupiter used to accompany his master on trips, walks and was even the personal secretary, and this earned him the grace of the family he served. He was enrolled in a college and quickly became a writer; publishing short stories while still a slave. He even had quite advanced sociological and anthropological notions. Jupiter knew that since slavery was deep rooted in America’s base, it could not be resolved quickly.

From the start to the end, he was a slave. Much of his time went by in preaching a controversial discourse that affirmed that slavery was the life reserved by God for blacks, and should not be hated. Although many take him as a hypocrite, Jupiter is also seen as an ancient Gandhi, preaching nonviolence and intellectual protest.

11 Olaudah Equiano

Famous Slaves & Their Stories

Equiano, son of an African village leader, was only 11 when he was taken to slavery in Virginia, USA. A ship captain named Henry Pascal took him to England. Equiano grew to become an excellent sailor.

Five years down the line, Equiano was sold again; this time to a merchant from Philadelphia- Robert King. Presenting his kindness, King gave him the chance to buy his freedom. After being freed, Equiano remained a sailor, but not without difficulty – there was a case where he remained hanging on a mast of the ship all night as a punishment for his behaviour.

In his final days he gained support as a public figure, known for his activism and speeches, even setting up an abolitionist group, called “Children of Africa”, with which he petitioned the English Parliament to make slavery a crime. In 1789, he published his autobiography “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano”, which became an instant best seller.

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