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During the late 1730 and early 1740s, enslaved African Americans in the British colonies of North America rose up in several independently organized revolts and conspiracies in vain attempts to win their freedom. Maryland was the scene of one of these acts of resistance. According to local contemporary accounts, Prince George’s County escaped massive violence in 1739 only because a conspiracy was discovered and suppressed before the revolt could be executed. The civil authorities apprehended the alleged conspirators and tried them for rebellion and attempted murder. The leader of the conspiracy, an enslaved man named Jack Ransom, was put to death. The events caused an immediate furor in the colony, including the mobilization of militia units, but as time passed the provincial legislature minimized the threat the conspiracy had posed, resisting calls by the governor for more taxation and expenditure for defense against future uprisings.


This paper was originally prepared for the Afro-American Institute for Historic Preservation and Community Development and the Afro-American Bicentennial Corporation in 1978, this version contains an addendum added in 2021.

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© 1978 and 2021, Alan Virta.