His Escape Plan Was So Creative, It Shocked Them All

Abandoned plantation house
Brooke Brown
October 8, 2021

Unlike the Americas and the Caribbean, enslaved people worked on family-owned farms in the Dutch-owned land later known as Cape Town, South Africa.

Plans to resist rarely took root, since enslavers purposely owned 10 or fewer people at a time. At least until Louis Van Mauritius came into the picture.

Mauritius kept his plans for rebellion under the radar by recruiting both free and enslaved supporters. And, quite unexpectedly, many of his rebel fighters were permitted to walk right off their farms by their enslavers! How?

He convinced the enslavers he was a Spanish sea captain visiting on official military business! By wearing the stolen uniform of a sailor and having two “British soldiers” – Irishmen that had joined the cause – by his side, he finessed them like a champ.

On October 27, 1808, the “officials” went from farm to farm, insisting that all enslaved people be released for “mandatory military duty.” Soon his original group of eight had swelled to 300 co-conspirators! What could possibly go wrong?

Well, the Dutch put their superior firepower to use and shut it down, sentencing 11 rebels to death by hanging. But Mauritius’ fight inspired the decline and eventual abolishment of slavery across the colony 30 years later, proving that sometimes the battle for freedom can be a long-term matter of outwitting your oppressors.

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