Denmark Vesey

From Academic Kids

Denmark Vesey (originally Telemanque) was an American slave and entrepreneur who planned what would have been a large slave rebellion had word of the plans not been leaked.

Vesey was taken from West Africa to South Carolina as a youth, where he was made a slave. In 1800, he won a street lottery; he used the money to start a successful carpentry business and thus escape slavery. At some point he may have worked on a sailing ship and visited Haiti, at that time the only country in the Americas where enslaved people of African descent had won their freedom. He cofounded a Black Methodist church in 1816, which was shut down by white authorities in 1820.

However, he retained immense empathy with American slaves. Perhaps inspired by the Haitian Revolution, he planned what would have been the largest slave rebellion in U.S. history. His insurrection, which was to take place on July 14, 1822, became known by about 9,000 slaves and free blacks throughout Charleston who were to participate. The plot was somehow leaked, and 131 people were charged with conspiracy by Charleston authorities. 67 men were convicted and 35 hanged, including Denmark Vesey.

Recent scholarship by Michael Johnson, of The Johns Hopkins University, has indicated that Vesey may have been framed. He points to the fact that besides court records, no other evidence exists of Vesey's plans to lead the revolt. [1] (http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20020311&c=1&s=wiener)

During the American Civil War, several Union black regiments used Denmark Vesey's name as a battlecry.

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