Vincent Brown

Charles Warren Professor of American History and the Founding Director of the History Design Studio at Harvard University


Spring 2016: Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellow

The Coromantee War: An Archipelago of Insurrection

Project Description

The Coromantee War: An Archipelago of Insurrection

I am presently at work on a book project called The Coromantee War: An Archipelago of Insurrection (under contract with Harvard University Press) that will address the environmental and spatial history of militancy in the early modern Atlantic world. Enslaved Africans from the Gold Coast, known widely as “Coromantees,” staged a dramatic series of conspiracies and revolts in the seventeenth and eighteenth-century Americas.[1]  The Jamaican revolt of 1760-1761, commonly called Tacky’s Revolt, was among the largest and most consequential.[2]

Historians of colonial slavery have been careful to show the impact of events and decisions made in Europe on patterns of New World development, but, with a few notable exceptions, we have a much weaker understanding of how African social, political, and military history has shaped the Atlantic world.  The scholarship that exists in this area has focused primarily on cultural continuities between Africans and African Americans, and much less on the influence of specific social trends and political events.  By examining the 1760-61 Jamaican revolt in the context of a series of insurrections between 1675 and 1775, The Coromantee War will show how events in Africa reverberated through the Atlantic, thereby joining African, European, and American history.

[1] A partial list includes the following: Barbados in 1675, 1683, 1686, and 1692; New York in 1712; Cartagena de Indias through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; St. John in 1733-1734; Antigua in 1701 and 1736; Surinam in 1690 and during the 1740s-50s, 1762, and the 1770s; and Jamaica in 1673, 1685, the 1690s and 1730s, 1742, and the 1760s.

[2] For eighteenth-century histories of the war and its aftermath see Long, History of Jamaica, II, 447-472, and Bryan Edwards, History of the West Indies, II (London: T. Miller, 1819 [1793]), 75-79.


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