St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands formerly St. Jan, Danish West Indies
Weeks passed and tensions mounted on St. Jan; and as more and more slaves escaped, one could hear more and more often the sounds of their drums, sending messages throughout the island in tongues meant only for African ears.
And then one night the drums fell silent. The time had come. Rebellion was at hand.
This is the story of daily life in 1733 on a tiny Caribbean Island only 24 square miles in area.
The astonishing story of an isolated slave-sugar colony erupting in bloody rebellion and the inexorable destruction of the rebels is told by the author as he paints powerful portraits of the European and the African actors.
He evokes a tangible sense of the land which he clearly knows so well.
The slaves were the masters of communications within the islands.
Their talking drums could even reach across the waters to St. Thomas.
The slaves evaluated that the total Danish force against them was insufficient to hold them down.
They did not know about the organized maritime power that could be transported from elsewhere to restore slavery.
Freshly transported from Africa, they did not understand the system that had caught them up.
When the rebellion failed most of the rebels killed themselves.
No slave rebellion on a small Caribbean Island ever did succeed.
The book is the timeless story of humanity in microcosm: a compelling picture of the evil and the good that men can do.
The more powerfully so because it is a painstakingly, accurately detailed reconstruction of the real and true events.
In 1935, John Lorenzo Anderson and his wife spent their honeymoon on the then almost inaccessible island of St. John.
He heard fragments of the story of the slave rebellion.
To say that he was intrigued is an understatement. He learned to read nine different languages all in 18th-century hand script.
He traveled widely in search of material which he found in several important collections of Danish or Danish West Indian documents such as the Danish Archives in Washington, D. C., the Moravian Church Archives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the Bancroft Collection in Berkeley, California and the Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen, Denmark.