7 Things You Didn’t Know About the Largest Slave Revolution in History

The 1811 German Coast Uprising was a revolt of Black enslaved people in Louisiana on Jan. 8-10. It is known as the largest slave revolt in history.

Blacks Vastly Outnumbered Whites in the Area

The German Coast was an area of sugar plantations in Louisiana that had a large population of enslaved people. According to some accounts, Blacks outnumbered whites nearly five to one. Most of them were born outside of Louisiana and many were from Africa. The Black population in the Orleans Territory tripled from 1803 to 1811. More surprisingly, the population of freed Black people in the area tripled to 5,000 during 1809 and 1810, largely due to the arrival of 3,000 Haitian immigrants. According to the 1810 census, the enslaved constituted more than 75 percent of the total population of the German Coast.

Blacks Loyal to Their Masters Betrayed the Movement to Freedom

One of the main reasons masters were able to find the rebels was because Blacks who were loyal to them gave up their whereabouts. They quickly crossed the Mississippi River in time to escape the insurrection and raise a militia to fight against them.

William Freehling noted that “the surest way to free oneself, under domestic servitude, was not to join a revolution but to betray one.” Most famously, enslaved people from the Trepagnier camp informed Francois Trepagnier about the rebellion in hopes of gaining freedom or good favor.

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