DENMARK VESEY Biography - Craftmen, artisans and people from other Occupations


Biography » craftmen artisans and people from other occupations » denmark vesey


Name: Denmark Vesey                                                                         
Born: 1767                                                                                   
Died: 2 July 1822                                                                           
Denmark Vesey (1767 - July 2, 1822) was a West Indian slave,                                 
and later a freedman , who planned what would have been one of the largest slave             
rebellions in the United States had word of the plans not been leaked.                       
Charleston, South Carolina authorities arrested the plot's leaders before the               
uprising could begin, and Vesey and others were tried and executed.                         
Eventually, many antislavery activists came to regard Vesey as a hero. During               
the American Civil War, abolitionist Frederick Douglass used Vesey's name as a               
battle cry to rally African American regiments, especially the 54th                         
Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.                                                           
In 1781, Vesey was purchased by Captain Joseph Vesey from the then Danish                   
Caribbean island of St. Thomas. He labored briefly in French Saint-Domingue (present-day     
Haiti), and then settled in Charleston, South Carolina as a youth, where Joseph             
Vesey kept him as a domestic slave. On November 9, 1799, he won $1500 in a city             
lottery; he bought his own freedom and began working as a carpenter. Although               
previously a Presbyterian, he co-founded a branch of the African Methodist                   
Episcopal Church in 1816, which was temporarily shut down by white authorities               
in 1818 and again in 1820.                                                                   
Inspired by the revolutionary spirit and actions of slaves during the 1791                   
Haitian Revolution, and furious at the closing of the African Church, Vesey                 
began to plan a slave rebellion. His insurrection, which was to take place on               
Bastille Day, July 14, 1822, became known to thousands of blacks throughout                 
Charleston and along the Carolina coast. The plot called for Vesey and his group             
of slaves and free blacks to slay their owners and temporarily seize the city of             
Charleston. Shortly after the rebellion was to take place, Vesey and his                     
followers planned to sail to Haiti to escape retaliation. The plot was leaked by             
two slaves opposed to Vesey's scheme, and 131 people were charged with                       
conspiracy by Charleston authorities. In total, 67 men were convicted and 35                 
hanged, including Denmark Vesey.                                                             
One of his sons, Sandy Vesey, was transported, probably to Cuba, and his last               
wife, Susan, later emigrated to Liberia. Another son, Robert Vesey, survived to             
rebuild the city's African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1865.                               
In response to white fears, a municipal guard of 150 men was established in                 
Charleston in 1822. Half the men were stationed in an arsenal called the Citadel.           
In 1842, the South Carolina legislature replaced the expensive guardsmen with               
cheaper cadets, and the arsenal was turned over to the newly-established South               
Carolina Military Academy, which later became known as The Citadel.