The beginning of the end of slavery.

John Hyde Barnard

Washington, D.C. 1838

In February of 2023, the publisher COOL TITLES will be releasing THE CREOLE INCIDENT; The beginning of the end of slavery.



John Hyde Barnard

Democracy is being assailed by a domestic threat that actively seeks a takeover of the government. The stated goal is to either re-write the Constitution, so as to establish a way of life that is diametrically opposed to the democratic concept that all men are “created equal,” or – if that fails, to legislate a legal secession from the Union.

Sound familiar?

The year is 1836 and the United States of America is on the verge of losing its democracy.

The Creole Incident is the true story of how the Constitution of the United States and the Union were saved, twenty years prior to the Great American Civil War, by select members of the House of Representatives, led by the venerable John Quincy Adams, a small group of radical abolitionists and nineteen individuals – who were all slaves.

The book carefully explores the South’s attempt to incorporate its peculiar institution into federal jurisprudence and those who opposed and finally thwarted the designs of the slave owners to “reform the constitution.”

In the process we witness the beginning of the end of slavery in the United States.

The actual Creole incident took place some months earlier onboard the intercoastal slave ship, the brig Creole, bound for New Orleans with a cargo of 135 slaves.

“Come on boys; we have commenced; we must go through with it!”[1]

With this purported command by Madison Washington, the largest successful slave revolt in American history began. Although it was the largest successful slave revolt during the 246 years of slavery’s existence on the North American continent, the striking fact concerning this struggle for freedom was that it only freed 135 people. Think about that: 135 people.

What has not been fully documented was that the revolt onboard the brig Creole set in motion a series of events that unequivocally changed the very course and nature of American history.

At the heart of the story is Madison Washington, a remarkable young man from “Old Dominion” who escapes slavery, makes his way to Canada and freedom, yet, returns to Virginia to rescue his wife, Susan. While attempting the rescue, he is caught, put in chains, auctioned off to the highest bidder and shipped south onboard the brig Creole, bound for New Orleans and the lethal sugar cane fields of Louisiana. Madison’s story is juxtaposed against the intrigue and bitter political infighting in Washington, D. C. over the institution of slavery.

These two stories reach a climax when Her Majesty’s government decides the fate of Madison Washington and the others imprisoned in Nassau, Bahamas. This intelligence sets in motion a series of dramatic floor fights in the United States House of Representatives as the balance of power between North and South hangs in the balance.

Although the slave revolt onboard the bring Creole has been documented in periodicals, books and academic papers, this is the first time that a detailed account reveals the role the Creole Incident played in thwarting the attempted government takeover by the Southern planters. The reason this incident has remained a footnote in American history is attributable to one simple fact: the circumstances surrounding the revolt were never intended for public perusal.

The Creole Incident investigates a calculated and premeditated course of action taken by a handful of radical abolitionists, in concert with certain members of Congress, that links them to Madison Washington and the slave revolt onboard the brig Creole. Their stated goal was to arrest the increasing power of Southern Representation in Congress by securing a free and open debate on the issues of slavery; Madison Washington’s goal was to be reunited with his wife, in freedom.

The question is, “Why would anyone want to read about an obscure slave revolt that occurred twenty years before the Civil War?”

George Santayana is credited with the following: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

As one becomes familiar with the events surrounding the Creole Incident, one becomes cognizant of the similarity to our present partisan divide in our nation and the state of our politics, wherein “…Personal feelings began to take the place of political sympathy; the social relations of members were broken up, and the common civilities of life were no longer observed by a portion of southern members.”[2]

The Creole Incident informs from whence we came and the lasting influence of a “peculiar institution” on our nation. It presents an unvarnished look at the injustices perpetrated on our fellow Americans during the times of slavery. In turn, we discover and establish one of the unsung heroes of our nation’s history, Madison Washington.

In the end, through a series of daring, brazen acts, the good guys win. What we come to appreciate is that The Creole Incident is an American story - for all Americans.

[1] Deposition of Zephaniah C. Gifford, 1st mate, brig Creole, Bahamas Island, New Providence. November 9, 1841.

[2] Joshua R. Giddings, History of the Rebellion: Its Authors and Causes. (Follett, Foster & Co. New York 1861) 158