"By the end of the eighteenth century;' Genovese has argued, "the histori-
cal content of the slave revolts [in the Americas] shifted decisively from
attempts to secure freedom from slavery to attempts to overthrow slavery
as a social system:' While it is true that the "great black revolution in Saint-
Domingue marked the turning point;' developments associated with the
American and French revolutions and the humanitarian movement in parts
of Europe to abolish the slave trade and slavery also played important roles.
Genovese is convincing; and when he uses the term decisively to describe
the shift from "restorationist" revolt to revolutionary overthrow of the slave
system, he takes into account that the transition may have begun earlier
than at the end of the eighteenth century in some places, and for different
reasons. 1 This was certainly true for Antigua and Barbados, whose small
size and relatively flat terrain meant that, after the first few decades of the
pioneer period, slaves could not successfully escape slavery within those
territories. InJamaica, however, they could, especially before the maroon
treaties of 1739-40. With the waning of an effective maroon dimension
to slave resistance in Antigua and Barbados in the seventeenth century,
a successful slave revolt required taking over the whole ofeach island. The
Barbados slaves planned several revolts in the seventeenth century (none
of which got beyond the conspiracy stage), and did not plan another until
1816, this time one that actually took place. Why there were no revolu-
tionary slave attempts to take oyer the island in the entire eighteenth century
after the restorationist period had vanished with the forest is a subject that
has not yet received the serious study that it deserves, but an adequate
explanation must certainly take into account the immensity of the task
Barbados slaves would have faced. 2
Unlike the Barbados slaves, those in Antigua did try to seize the island
in 1736 and overthrow the whites. Here, collective resistance had moved
away from a restorationist past to exhibit more revolutionary tendencies,
which were determined by circumstances within Antigua itself. A complex
manifestation of slave resistance, the conspiracy reflected many dimensions
of the slave society within which it gradually crystallized, and it is best
understood within that context, especially in relation to the obvious
limitations of masters' control over their slaves. After years of resistance
that mostly fell short of collective open rebellion, Antigua slaves, prodded
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