On September 9, 1739, as many as one hundred African and African American slaves were living within twenty miles of Charleston, South Carolina. This rebellious group of slaves joined forces to strike down white plantation and business owners in an attempt to march in numbers towards St. Augustine, Florida where the Spanish could hopefully grant their freedom. During the violent march toward Florida, the Stono Rebellion took the lives of more than sixty whites and thirty slaves. Ranking as South Carolina’s largest slave revolt in colonial America, Peter Charles Hoffer, a historian at the University of Georgia and author of Cry Liberty: The Great Stono River Slave Rebellion of 1739 tries to reinterpret the Stono Rebellion and challenges the reader to visualize what really went on to be a bloody uprising story in American History.
Reconstructing the Stono Rebellion is not an easy task, but through meticulous recreation and hard work, Hoffer enables the reader to see through the eyes of whites and slaves. Hoffer grabs ahold of the reader and brings them back to 1739, to visualize how slaves fought to great depths against the British colonies of North America and white plantation owners in hope of reaching freedom in Spanish Florida.
Hoffer’s book exists by means of beliefs and values in history as it is a modification of Stono through what he has gathered, and it vividly draws together historian works of art. Cry Liberty is different, however, as Hoffer’s argument in the novel is not the same as historians and South Carolinian officials who have written this story before him. Previous writers have told the basic story of Stono, where they believe this story is true but the slaves had the whole rebellion planned out and ready to execute. When Hoffer tells this story his argument and evidence is likely one of contingency.
As Hoffer begins to tell the story of Cry Liberty he debates how the slaves were able to develop and launch their rebellion against white plantation owners. Hoffer’s argument about what happened on September 9, 1739 in his point of view, happened by chance. Hoffer points out a piece of evidence that suggests once slaves overran Hutchenson’s store, slaves turned into rebels. This motivated slaves to do everything it took to get down to Spanish Florida. Slaves in the north knew that the Spanish were going to war and in St. Augustine, Florida the Spanish were granting slaves their freedom for one thing in return. To help the Spanish win the fight against the British, slaves had to put their life on the line to fight for freedom. After the incident in Hutchenson’s store according to Hoffer, slaves went back to their plantations to tell others what happened and to motivate them to join in the march to Florida. As word grew around the plantations reactions from the slaves were respectable and rotten.
Hoffer traces the paths taken by rebels and militia, and offers a new explanation of its causes. Far from a noble,...