Slavery is not just a shameful part of the human history but something that is still being continued in some parts of the world. You can also argue that the modern culture of low pay jobs and sweat shops in third world countries is just another form of slavery. The fact is that ever since humans started forming complex societies, people have always found ways to subjugate others and take advantage of them. This hasn’t stopped a lot of those who were born into slavery from leaving a mark in history. The list of famous people who were born into slavery is a long one. But here are the top 10 most famous slaves in history.
George Washington Carver was born into slavery in Diamond Grove, Missouri in 1864 or 1865. His parents were owned by Moses Carver, a German American immigrant. When slavery was abolished Moses and his wife Susan raised George and his brother James as their own children and encouraged them to study. George grew up to be a scientist, botanist, educator and inventor. His greatest achievement was in the area of alternate farming of cotton with other plants such as peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes that helped the farmers to have a source of food and helped the soil recover its nutrients between cotton crops.
Margaret Garner was an African-American slave who is famous for killing her own daughter so that she wouldn’t have to return to slavery. She and her family tried to escape to a free state in January 1856 across the frozen Ohio river but were captured by slave catchers. Before being captured Margaret managed to kill her 2 year old daughter and was preparing to kill the rest of her children and herself but was stopped by the slave catchers. Her story inspired Toni Morrison to write the novel Beloved.
Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey was born a slave in Talbot County, Maryland. He educated himself and tried to escape many times until finally succeeding in 1838. He went on to become a famous orator, writer, statesman and social reformer. He became the leader of the abolitionist movement and was the living proof against the white argument that blacks weren’t intellectually strong enough to live independently.
Anna Julia Cooper was born in 1858 into slavery and went on to become a celebrated American author, educator and scholar. She became the 4th African American woman in history to obtain a doctoral degree in 1924. She was born in Raleigh, North Carolina in the house of George Washington Haywood. Her only published work, A Voice from the South: By a Woman from the South has become one of the first landmarks in the history of black feminism.
Nat Turner was a slave preacher who led the 1831 uprising in Virginia which resulted in the death of 55 white men women and children. He said to have had visions where God had directed him to start the revolt. The mob of 50 or so blacks that he led was eventually caught. He was tried and sentenced to death by hanging. All the blacks captured were killed and a retaliation of white militia killed many other black men women and children in the aftermath. Stricter laws were enforced on black communities as a result.
Zayd ibn Harithah, also known as Zayd mawla Muhammad, was a companion of The Prophet Muhammad. Zayd was born in Najd of central Arabia in a tribe called the Kalb. He was kidnapped when he was young and sold as a slave. He was bought by a merchant of Mecca, Hakim ibn Hizam who gave Zayd as a present to his aunt, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid. She later married Muhammad and gave Zayd as a present to him. Muhammad has been said to have been very attached to Zayd ibn Harithah.
Toussaint Louverture was born as a slave on a plantation of Breda at Haut de Cap in Saint-Domingue. He was freed at the age of 33 and continued to work on the plantation as an employee. He was the leader of the Haitian Revolution. His military prowess helped in the independence of Haiti and also set an example for the rest of the New World slaves.
Abram Petrovich Gannibal was a slave that was brought to Russia by Peter the Great. He later became a major general as a military engineer. He also became the Governor of Reval. He is also the great grandfather of the writer Aleksandr Pushkin.
Aesop who’s famous for Aesop’s fables was a story teller and fabulist who lived in ancient Greece. He was a slave of Ladmon of Samos. He never wrote down his stories and over the years a lot of fables have been credited to him that were handed down through oral tradition. His stories are characterized by the use of animals and inanimate objects that can speak and have human characteristics.
Spartacus was a Thracian gladiator. He later escaped the gladiatorial school and amassed an army of runaway slave on Mount Vesuvius. He was part of the Third Servile War against the Roman Republic as a slave leader. They fought and won many battles in southern Italy before being defeated by lefions of Marcus Licinius Crassus in Lucania. Spartacus died in this battle.