PNC commemorates the 198th Anniversary of the Demerara Revolt 

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Dear Editor  

The People’s National Congress pays homage to the memory of the more than two hundred martyrs who were killed on 20thAugust 1823 at Bachelor’s Adventure on the East Coast, during the Demerara Revolt. 

The Demerara Revolt mobilised more than ten thousand enslaved Africans in the Crown colony of Demerara-Essequibo. It erupted on 18thAugust 1823 and lasted for two days before the Governor, Brigadier General John Murray, proclaimed martial law and mobilised a formidable military force. The bloodbath took place at Pln. Bachelor’s Adventure where over 2,000 rebels confronted the main body of troops under Lieutenant Colonel John Thomas Leahy.  After the Martial Law Proclamation was read, the troops were ordered to attack.  One account stated: “The soldiers poured in volley after volley.  The slaves returned fire but soon began to run, leaping the trenches into which many tumbled lifeless.  Many were shot down on the road and in the cotton fields.  By noon, the roadside was littered with dead bodies.  About two hundred slaves had been killed.” 

The massacre, arrests, courts-martial, imprisonment and subsequent executions at the Militia Parade Ground and elsewhere were, perhaps, the single most significant event to hasten the abolition of African enslavement in the British colonies. The Revolt was a significant contributory factor to the passage of the Emancipation Act by the British Parliament a decade later in 1833 and the grant of full Emancipation on 1st August 1838. 


The Demerara Revolt is remembered in Bachelors’ Adventure Village where the massacre occurred and a memorial to the Martyrs was erected. President David Granger proclaimed 20th August each year as Demerara Martyrs’ Day in the martyrs’ memory. Future generations should never forget that freedom was bought at the high price of the martyrdom of hundreds of Africans on 20th August 1823. 


People’s National Congress, 

Congress Place, 

Sophia, Georgetown

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