Discovering Slave Conspiracies: New Fears of Rebellion and Old Paradigms of Plotting in Seventeenth Century Barbados

JASON T. SHARPLES
AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW 120.3 (2015): 811-843

The author uses an investigation into slave conspiracy in seventeenth century Barbados to examine how colonizers attempted to make sense of subject populations. When investigators in 1692 believed that they had uncovered a planned rebellion, they assessed the intended violence in a way that exaggerated the threat. His article contributes to recent debates over whether slaves intended to rebel in alleged insurrectionary conspiracies in colonial America and the early United States. It also sheds light on collective resistance more generally by identifying conspiracy scares and actual rebellions as distinct but related phenomena.