Ben’s Book Club: ‘Tacky’s Revolt’ by Vincent Brown

Wednesday February 17th 2021, 5pm GMT/12pm ET. Register here.

Join us for the February instalment of Ben’s Book Club, a monthly virtual gathering looking at themes relating to Benjamin Franklin, the 18th century, and American history.

This month we will be talking to Vincent Brown about his book ‘Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War’, a gripping account of the largest slave revolt in the eighteenth-century British Atlantic world, an uprising that laid bare the interconnectedness of Europe, Africa, and America, shook the foundations of empire, and reshaped ideas of race and popular belonging.

In the second half of the eighteenth century, as European imperial conflicts extended the domain of capitalist agriculture, warring African factions fed their captives to the transatlantic slave trade while masters struggled continuously to keep their restive slaves under the yoke. In this contentious atmosphere, a movement of enslaved West Africans in Jamaica (then called Coromantees) organized to throw off that yoke by violence. Their uprising—which became known as Tacky’s Revolt—featured a style of fighting increasingly familiar today: scattered militias opposing great powers, with fighters hard to distinguish from noncombatants. It was also part of a more extended borderless conflict that spread from Africa to the Americas and across the island. Even after it was put down, the insurgency rumbled throughout the British Empire at a time when slavery seemed the dependable bedrock of its dominion. That certitude would never be the same, nor would the views of black lives, which came to inspire both more fear and more sympathy than before.

Vincent Brown is Charles Warren Professor of American History and Professor of African and African American Studies.  He directs the History Design Studio and teaches courses in Atlantic history, African diaspora studies, and the history of slavery in the Americas. Brown is also the author of The Reaper’s Garden: Death and Power in the World of Atlantic Slavery (Harvard University Press, 2008), producer of Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness, an audiovisual documentary broadcast on the PBS series Independent Lens.

You can purchase a hardcopy of ‘Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War’ here. You can purchase the Kindle edition here.

Join us even if you don’t have a chance to read the book by the event date!

This event is free of charge but please consider making an online donation here to support the work of Benjamin Franklin House.