Through the late summer of 1739, a series of revolts staged by black slaves resulted in the deaths of scores of white settlers in the colony of South Carolina. As the settlers fought back, the result was the deaths of just as many black slaves.
The first incident occurred when a group of forty-four slaves escaped from their masters and headed toward St. Augustine. It was believed that the revolt was encouraged by Spanish missionaries who convinced the slaves that they would find freedom in the Spanish colony of Florida. In 1733 the Spanish issued a decree that stated that slaves who escaped from the English colonies would be considered free on Spanish soil. The group killed all the white settlers they met on the way before the white settlers could bring their revolt to a halt. In the end, twenty-one white settlers were killed, and the entire group of black slaves was massacred.
Another incident involved black slaves who rose against their masters along the Stono River. The slaves were led by one named Cato. The group murdered some thirty white settlers. A greater number of black slaves died in the so-called Stono Rebellion.
A third uprising occurred at St. John's Parish in Berkeley County.
In January 1740, fifty black slaves were hung in the town of Charleston after their plans for another uprising were discovered.