Denmark Vesey's Plot | Palmetto Special


The program begins with Vesey discussing the condition of slavery with an acquaintance who is a slave Later, at a meeting, details of the plot are worked out with co-conspirators including Peter Poyas, Monday Gell, Ned Bennett and Rolla Bennett. Some are concerned and dismayed that the plot calls for the annihilation of the white population

At a chance meeting between two slaves, William and Devany, ata Charleston dock, William, also a co-conspirator, informs Devany of the plot and asks him to participate. Devany is reticent and visits his friend, Pensel, a free Negro, and asks for his advice. Pinsel advises Devany to steer clear of the conspiracy and to inform his master, Colonel Prioleau, about what he knows. Devany does so and in turn the authorities are informed While some initial questions turned up no proof, the conspiracy begins to fall apart. Eflorts by Vesey to execute the plan sooner, prove to be unsuccessful and the rebellion was squelched. Arrests and trials result in Vesey and 35 others being hanged. The impact of the pfot was that a real fear of slave uprisings engulfed the people of Charleston. This had an effeit on lives for vears to come In addition, it gave encouragement to future uprisings elsewhere such as the famed Nat Turner rebellion in Virqinia in 1837.

BACKGROUND: The population of South Carolina in 1820 consisted of 237,440 whites, 258,475 slaves, and 6,826 free Negroes. The free Negroes had gained their freedom from slavery in a variety of ways. Some had purchased it with monies received doing work over and above their assigned duties. Others were granted freedom at the bequest of their masters upon the master's death.

Denmark Vesey had been a sea captain's slave. He was well-travelled and well-read. In 1800, he won $1,500 in a lottery in Charleston and purchased his freedom. There he became a well-respected and relatively affluent carpenter. In 1822, Vesey plotted a slave revolt. The depth of the actual organization is a subject of controversy today among historians. The events and people in today's lesson are based on research materials available.

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