Black History Month: Day 13

Today I’m turning the spotlight on Denmark Vesey. Denmark Vesey was a leader among African Americans in South Carolina.

Vesey was born in 1767. Sources say he was probably born in the West Indies. He was self educated, and a skilled carpenter. In 1781, he was sold to his master, Joseph Vesey, and in 1783 he settled with his master in Charleston.

In 1816, Vesey and other slaves, established a black methodist church in Charleston. He encouraged his audience to break free from slavery.


Around 1800, Vesey won a lottery and purchased his freedom. He read different literatures on anti slavery, and wanted to do something. He gained inspiration from the Haitian Revolution.

He then planned a slave revolt. His plan consisted of arsenals, killing whites, and freeing slaves.

He was betrayed by fearful slaves, and they told of his plans. Military preparations were made by white authorities, and therefore the plan was stalled.

Over 130 blacks were arrested, 67 were convicted, and 35 were hanged. Vesey defended himself at his trial, but he was found guilty and also hanged in Charleston. In addition, the church was torn down.

Blacks crowds mourned for their leaders. The uprising caused more limitations. The new laws prevented free blacks from entering the ports.

In the 90’s, black activists in Charleston proposed that a memorial should be put in place to honor Vesey for trying to overturn slavery, but that request turned into a controversial issue, because some people considered Vesey a terrorist.

In the eyes of others, he was a fearless black man that stood for freedom.


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