Resistance to the institution of slavery was very widespread, persistent, and to be found in almost every aspect of the Enslaved life. All groups of Enslaved Africans , regardless of sex, or work had an anti-slavery mentality. Women were among leaders of resistance movements. Women’s leadership roles, however, have been minimized in writings about slave resistance
Here are a selection of Caribbean rebellions led by women, cutlass in hand and bravery in heart; this is how they did it:
Mary, Agnes & Matilda
In 1878, one of the most violent rebellions took place in the Danish Caribbean islands. Locally known as the Fireburn rebellion, this labor riot sent a loud and clear message to plantation owners.
These three rebel women, Queen Mary, Queen Agnes and Queen Matilda, along with a whole host of other enslaved Africans traveled around to 50 plantations and burnt down houses, sugar mills, fields and stores. It is said that over half the city of Frederiksted burned down.
To this day Queen Mary, Queen Agnes and Queen Matilda are considered heroines. The local population erected statues of the three women and one of the main roads on St. Croix is named Queen Mary Highway.
Flore Bois Gaillard
Flore Bois Gaillard is known to have been a biracial enslaved St. Lucian woman who was detrimental in the Battle of Rabot.
Flore Bois Gaillard, growing tired of the harshness of both the French and immediately after the English who occupied the land, escaped the plantation in 1793. After running away and taking refuge in the woods, she came across other escaped Africans who had formed an army. The army planned a rebellion to rid the country of the British for good and declare St. Lucia a free country.
Flore Bois Gaillard rose in the ranks and quickly became a military leader, her planned counter-attack at Soufriere being pivotal in the success of wiping out many British slave owners, burning down plantations and freeing several slaves who later joined the army. Some say that Flore killed her former master and burned down his plantation.
While there is not a huge amount of knowledge about the details of Flore Bois Gaillard, she remains as a significant national treasure in St. Lucian history. The natural monument made to honour her, Piton Flore, is named after this St. Lucian iconic figure.
Marie Sainte Dédée Bazile