There were many revolts in the antebellum South. The scale of these revolts was usually measured in the number of revolting Africans and whites killed. Uprisings like Turner’s in Virginia took a number of white lives regardless of the age or gender of the victims; and while Turner’s revolt is one of the more deadly exchanges between the enslaved and the enslavers of America, it was not the largest. The honor for the largest African uprising on American soil in the antebellum South belongs to the German Coast uprising of New Orleans, Louisiana. The immense scale of this uprising demonstrates the need for investigation into the how and why. Specifically: how the enslaved organized and communicated with one another and why the rebellion was sparked in the first place.
To elaborate, sentiment for an uprising had been building steam for a number of years, in part because of the Haitian Revolution. By this I mean, the reports of the Haitian revolution, both formal (printed news) and informal (word-of-mouth), contributed to a rise of the spirit of revolution and freedom that stirred within the hearts of German Coast's African population. As well, the population influx of Haitian refugees as a consequence of the Haitian Revolution put the European population of Louisiana on high alert.
Leading up to the uprising, during the late 18th century in what was to become Orleans Parish, there were a number of skirmishes and uprisings that paved the way for the German Coast revolt. For instance, in the Spanish controlled area of New Orleans, an enslaved African named Jean Saint Malo, escaped his captors and established a small but viable maroon community in the swamps. Over time, St. Malo and his community became a nuisance for the Spanish government, so much so that they sent in the local militia to capture the insurgents and dismantle the establishment. The efforts of St. Malo and the disruptions he caused the Spanish government made him a folk-hero amongst the enslaved of New Orleans. Nevertheless, because of his ability to disrupt the business dealings of the Spanish crown he was executed June 19th, 1784 as a warning to future insurrectionists. However, a decade later, again in the Spanish controlled region of Southern Louisiana, near a place called Pointe Coupee, there was another large scale uprising discovered by Spanish authorities. This planned revolt was to take place over during the Easter holiday of 1794, but, before this insurrection ever got off the ground it was quelled by Spanish authorities. As a result, 23 were killed for their part in this planned insurrection with an additional 31 beaten and tortured.
The Haitian Revolution itself became a beacon for hope in the fight against enslavement for Louisiana’s enslaved Africans. That is to say, the efforts of Louisiana’s African population were influenced by victory of the Haitian rebels just a few hundred kilometers to the South. But, there was more that just influence that came with the Haitian Revolution. After the fires of Haiti settled many of the formerly enslaved Africans of Haiti migrated to the US to the Louisiana territory bringing with them the same revolutionary flame that defeated the French and Spanish empires. This caused the Black population of the Louisiana territory to nearly triple in a very short amount to time, infusing the population with free migrant Haitian-Africans who did not come to the bayous in chains but as victors of their own war.
So, Louisiana seemed to be primed for a major uprising given its history and connection to Haiti and its rebels. Planning for the uprising is said to have taken place only a few days before the uprising started. The revolt was scheduled to take place during the period in which the harvest season had ended and planting season had not yet begun, the enslaved Africans of the region would therefore have had a bit more freedom and opportunity to organize the uprising. To elaborate, on the fourth of January, two enslaved Africans, Kwamena (a variation of the Ghanaian-day name Kwame - born on Saturday) and a mulatto name Henry, met and discussed plans for an uprising with a number of others. There was a third name mentioned in reference to German Coast, Charles Deslondes, a refugee of Haiti. However, it is not clear if Deslondes was present at the initial planning with Kwamena and Henry, nevertheless, he was named by Manuel Andry as one of the main conspirators in this revolt and therefore a principal figure in Southern Louisiana history.
The revolt began on January 8th at the Andry Plantation with the immediate bloodletting of Manual Andry and his son. After leaving the Andry Plantation (and a still living Manual Andry), the insurrectionists went from plantation-to-plantation killing Europeans and recruiting Africans at every stop. Participants of this revolt seemed to be fairly organized. They grew in number and weaponry with each plantation they encountered and organized themselves into a rank-and-file army that marched confidently to a drummer’s beat with flags hoisted proudly. By the end of the first day of this insurrection, the ad-hoc army had traversed 15-20 miles, destroyed a number of the largest and most notable plantations in Southern Louisiana and had gathered upwards of about 500 enslaved Africans. However, despite the day of triumph, across the Mississippi River the state militia was preparing to meet the African army head-on, led by Manuel Andry.
The tide began to turn on the morning of January 10th, when the Andry’s organized militia began their march towards the German Coast rebels. Later that morning the militia met the rebels head-on and engaged them aggressively. The skirmish did not last long, many of the rebels were killed and the rest absconded in to the Louisiana swamps. Over the next few weeks, many Africans were questioned, tortured and coerced into fingering accomplices and other potential rebels resulting in a slew of executions and other varying forms of punishment. In total, around one hundred Africans were killed in the fallout from the German Coast uprising.
Though it is important to fight against oppression and injustice, one is forced to ask, if the fallout and lives lost during the trials and interrogations make it all worth it. That is to simply ask, if the fight against oppression is ultimately worth it? Worth the lives lost? Worth the violent fallout? Worth the restrictions and executions? Being a person who has not risked his life for freedom, it is difficult to answer. Nevertheless, as long as people are oppressed there will be those who fight back. It is not necessarily a question of right or wrong, but perhaps a biological imperative to survive. African people simply want to live, to be, without having to justify their being-ness. This perhaps is the essence of freedom, a state of being without a need to justify that being-ness to another human being.
 Daniel Rasmussen. American Uprising: The Untold Story of America's Largest Slave Revolt. New York, 2011), 88-90.
 Ibid., 88-90. Mary Ann Sternberg, Along the River Road: Past and Present on Louisiana’s Historic Byways. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001). Nathan A. Buman, “To Kill Whites: The 1811 Louisiana Slave Insurrection” (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008).
 Ibid., 88-90.
 The bodies of the 23 Africans executed for their part in this insurrection were dismember and put on display around Louisiana as an ominous warning to future would-be insurrectionists.
 Daniel Rasmussen. American Uprising: The Untold Story of America's Largest Slave Revolt. New York, 2011), 108-109.
 Thomas Marshall Thompson, "National Newspaper and Legislative Reactions to Louisiana's Deslondes Slave Revolt of 1811", The Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial Series in Louisiana History, Vol 3: The Louisiana Purchase and its Aftermath, 1800-1830. (Baton Rouge: University of Louisiana, 1998), 311. Rodriguez, Junius P. “Rebellion on the River Road: The Ideology and Influence of Louisiana’s German Coast Slave Insurrection of 1811.” In John R. McKivigan and Stanley Harold. Antislavery Violence: Sectional, Racial and Cultural Conflict in Antebellum America (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1999).
 Eugene D. Genovese, Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. (New York: Vintage Books, 1976), 592.
 Ibid., 592.
 Daniel Rasmussen. American Uprising: The Untold Story of America's Largest Slave Revolt. New York, 2011), 109.