Prior to the Treaty of Paris that ceded the island of Tobago to Britain in 1763, the island had remained neutral between the French and British. Once Tobago was in the hands of Britain, the colonial powers wasted no time in settling and developing the plantation system. As in all the colonies, the slave population quickly outnumbered the planter class and coupled with disease, poverty and the harsh realities of slavery, rebellion was inevitable. A few months before the Bloody Bay Rebellion, the colony was still reeling from the effects of the Courtland Bay Revolt. Once that revolt was put down, the colonial government passed its first act to create a colonial militia. The new militia’s first test occurred on June 2, 1771, when approximately 80 slaves of two adjacent plantations revolted in a calculated attack, seized weapons then escaped to an encampment that was formerly used by runaway slaves, in Bloody Bay. When the newly minted militia arrived, there was minor fighting, with very few of the rebels either killed or captured. A few surrendered to the militia, but most fled into the woods and were believed to have escaped to nearby Trinidad.

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