Jemmy, leader of the Stono Rebellion, the largest and deadliest revolt by enslaved people in colonial British North America, was most likely born in the Kingdom of Kongo, now part of Angola, and brought as a slave to the British colony of South Carolina in the 1730s. Although his exact origins are not known, the majority of African slaves sold by the British Royal African Company and shipped to South Carolina originated in Kongo. The Kingdom of Kongo was an independent kingdom which converted to Christianity in the 16th-century, meaning that Jemmy worshipped both Roman Catholicism and older African faiths and had working knowledge of Portuguese which was the lingua franca of slave traders and the elite in Kongo. Jemmy’s Kongolese origins also linked to his abilities as a military leader which was probably acquired in wars fought in the Kongo region in the early 1700s.
These wars, by the 1720s and 1730s, were fought using pistols and muskets, meaning that knowledge of modern military tactics and weaponry were brought along with slaves, like Jemmy, to South Carolina. Jemmy also likely had knowledge of rice cultivation, which made him particularly skilled for work on plantations in South Carolina…
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