Fireburn of 1878

Three Queens and Fireburn of 1878

Even after the abolition of slavery in 1848 in the Danish West Indies, conditions for the newly freed were difficult. The Emancipation Revolt of 1848 ended slavery but inaugurated a 30-year period of serfdom based on contract labor that ensured continuing control by plantation owners. Frustration and unrest spilled over in the labor force into a violent rebellion which started on October 1, 1878 (Contract Day) in Frederiksted. Houses, warehouses, and plantations were burned, along with over half of the city of Frederiksted. This revolt became known as Fireburn or the Great Trashing. Three (some believe four or even five) women, Mary, Agnes, and Mathilda, were especially active in the rebellion. Today, they are considered heroines in the islands and called Queens of Fireburn.

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