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The period covered is primarily from to the late s, during which the majority of the organized revolts took place. This is followed by a chapter on individual acts of murder and rebellion, which characterized slave uprisings from the s down to abolition in The author has chapters describing each rebellion, beginning with those growing out of the Haitian revolution and ending with an analysis of the general characteristics of Puerto Rican rebellions.
Many of the descriptions of various rebellions are drawn entirely from archival material and hence constitute new data on nineteenth-century Puerto Rican slavery. The author argues that as the sugar industry spread, bringing with it an expanded slave population in the early s, revolts took place, often led by Blacks recently brought over from Africa and now wanting their freedom.
As the sugar industry went into decline by the s, working and living conditions deteriorated, providing additional incentive for revolts.
All revolutions were crushed; punishment, particularly in the later period, was quite harsh; and fear of such revolts was always common in the white population.
Baralt shows that slaves consistently resisted their bondage, first with rebellions and later by murdering owners. Rebellions were easy to quash because they frequently were small, the island too little to hide fugitives, and the government able to marshal sufficient strength quickly. Slaves fought for their personal freedom and, less frequently, for that of Puerto Rico. They usually made detailed plans before a revolt and followed a common pattern of seizing weapons, killing owners, and fleeing their properties.
Contrary to common belief, the government did not always execute rebels; officials also used banishment, imprisonment, and condemnation to public service. What might have enhanced his study would have been a chapter-length analysis of how slave revolts in Puerto Rico compared to those in Cuba, other Caribbean islands, and in the southern United States. Such a comparison would contribute additionally to our understanding of the Puerto Rican situation.
Regardless of this suggestion, Baralt has done a competent job. Copyright by Duke University Press
Esclavos Rebeldes: Conspiraciones y Sublevaciones de Esclavos En Puerto Rico (1795-1873)
guillermo a baralt
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