Curaçao Slave Revolt of 1795

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Curaçao Slave Revolt of 1795
Part of the Atlantic Revolutions
Monument to 1795 Slave Revolt, Curaçao.jpg
Statue commemorating the revolt
Date17 August 1795 (1795-08-17) – 19 September 1795 (1795-09-19)
TypeSlave rebellion
OutcomeRevolt was subdued. Tula, Bastian Karpata, Louis Mercier, Pedro Wakao, and other slaves were executed. Slaves received limited rights.

A slave revolt took place in the Dutch colony of Curaçao in 1795, led by the enslaved man Tula, and resulted in a month-long conflict on the island between escapees and the colonial government.


Modern artist impression of rebel leader Tula

Bandabou nl had between 4,000 and 5,000 inhabitants in 1795, mostly enslaved.

Tula, an African man enslaved on the island, had been preparing the insurrection for some weeks. On the morning of August 17, 1795, at the Knip plantation of Caspar Lodewijk van Uytrecht at Bandabou, Curaçao, Tula led an uprising of 40 to 50 people. The enslaved met on the square of the plantation and informed van Utrecht they would no longer be his slaves.

Kenepa Plantation House

He told them to present their complaints to the lieutenant governor at Fort Amsterdam. They left and went from Knip to Lagun, where they freed 22 people from jail.

From Lagun, the liberators went to the sugar plantation of Santa Cruz (Sacred Cross), where they were joined by more rebels under Bastian Karpata. Tula then led the liberated people from farm to farm, freeing more people.

The slave owners had now retreated to the city, leaving their plantations unprotected. At the same time, a confederate French slave, Louis Mercier, led another group of freed people to Santa Cruz, where he took the commandant, van der Grijp, and ten of his mixed race soldiers as prisoners. Mercier also attacked Knip, where he freed more people and took some weapons. He then rejoined Tula, locating him by following the trail of destruction Tula had left behind.


Modern artist impression of the victory of the slaves at Portomari

Van Uytrecht in the meantime had sent his son on horseback with a note to the governor, and at 7 p.m., the council met to prepare a defense of the colony. Governor Johannes de Veer nl ordered Commander Wierts of the navy ship Medea, which was in port at the time, to defend Fort Amsterdam. Sixty-seven men, both white and black, under the command of Lieutenant R.G. Plegher were sent against the rebels. They went by boat to Boca San Michiel from Willemstad, and from there on foot to Portomari, where Tula and his followers were camping. When the Dutch military arrived there on August 19, they attacked Tula's group, but were defeated.

At the plantation of Fontein, Pedro Wakao killed the Dutch slaver, Sabel, who became the first white victim of the rebellion. Wakao also found more weapons at Fontein.

The governor was notified of Plegher's defeat, and the rebellion was now considered a serious threat to the white community. The governor and the slavers had raised a force of 60 well-armed horsemen under the command of Captain Baron van Westerholt to renew the attack. Westerholt had orders to offer leniency to the rebels if they would surrender. Among this party was Jacobus Schink, a Franciscan priest who served as negotiator and attempted to prevent bloodshed.

Tula was aware of the Haitian Revolution that had resulted in freedom for the enslaved in Haiti. Tula argued that, since the Netherlands were now captured by the French, they should get their freedom as well. The three demands of Tula were: an end to collective punishment, an end to labor on Sunday, and the freedom to buy clothes and goods from others than their own masters. There were two attempts at negotiating with the enslaved. The first one was carried out by Father Schink. When Father Schink spoke with Tula, he refused to accept anything less than freedom. Schink reported back to Baron Westerholt, and the latter decided to get more reinforcements and attack. He attempted a last negotiation, but when he was turned down by the rebels, he ordered that any enslaved person with a weapon be shot. In the ensuing fight, the rebels were defeated. Ten to twenty of them were killed, and the rest escaped.


Modern artist impression of the execution of Tula

The rebels began a guerrilla campaign, poisoning wells and stealing food. On September 19, Tula and Karpata were betrayed by an enslaved person. They were taken prisoner, and the war was effectively over. (Louis Mercier had already been caught at Knip.) After Tula was captured, he was publicly tortured to death on October 3, 1795, almost seven weeks after the revolt began. Karpata, Louis Mercier and Pedro Wakao were also executed. In addition, many enslaved people had been massacred in the earlier repression. After the revolt had been crushed the white Curaçao government formulated rules that provided some rights to enslaved people on the island.


Statue commemorating the start of the revolt against slavery

At the height of the insurrection, there were probably 1,000 rebels.[citation needed] August 17 is celebrated in Curaçao to commemorate the beginning of the liberation struggle. When the race based system of slavery was finally abolished on the island in 1863, there were approximately 5500 enslaved people.[1]

There is a monument to Tula and the rebels on the south coast of Curaçao, near the Corendon Mangrove Beach Resort. This is the site where Tula was executed. The Tula Museum was named after the rebel leader.

The revolt was dramatized in the 2013 Dutch film Tula: The Revolt, directed by Jeroen Leinders and starring Obi Abili as Tula alongside Jeroen Krabbé and Danny Glover.[2]


  • (in Dutch) Paula, A.F. (ed.), Zeventien vijf en negentig. De slavenopstand op Curaçao. Een bronnenuitgave van de originele overheidsdocumenten, 1974.
  • (in Dutch) Encyclopedie van de Nederlandse Antillen, Walburg Pers, 1985, ISBN 90-6011-360-8
  1. ^ Gert Oostindie (2011). "Slave Resistance, colour lines, and the impact of the French and Haitian revolutions in Curacao". In Klooster, Wim; Oostindie, Gert (eds.). Curacao in the Age of Revolutions, 1795 - 1800. The Netherlands: KITLV Press. ISBN 978 90 6718 380 2. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ Tula The Revolt Archived 2019-01-06 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 7 May 2015.

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