Slave Resistance Essay

This essay has a total of 1182 words and 5 pages.

Slave Resistance

It could be considered almost ludicrous that most African-Americans were content with
their station in life. Although that was how they were portrayed to the white people, it
was a complete myth. Most slaves were dissatisfied with their stations in life, and
longed to have the right of freedom. Their owners were acutely conscious of this fact and
went to great lengths to prevent slave uprisings from occurring. An example of a drastic
measure would be the prohibition of slaves receiving letters. They were also not allowed
to converge outside church after services, in hopes of stopping conspiracy. Yet the
slaves still managed to fight back.

In 1800, the first major slave rebellion was conceived. Gabriel Prosser was a 24 year
old slave who was deeply religious. He felt that slavery was morally wrong and chose to
fight against it. During the spring and summer of 1800, he began carefully creating a
plan, in which he would invade Richmond, Virginia. From there he would take over the
armory and the powder house, in order to have complete control over the city. He soon
recruited more than a thousand slaves and had weapons on hand. On August 30, 1800,
Gabrielís army collected outside Richmond. Unfortunately, they were unable to attack the
city, as a violent rainstorm ensued, and ended up washing out all the bridges and roads.
His plans were revealed to Governor James Monroe by traitors. Before the slave forces
could regroup after the storm, the state militia was sent out by the governor in an effort
to stamp out the rebellion. They succeeded, and Gabriel Prosser was captured along with
34 followers. He was executed shortly afterwards.

Denmark Vesey was an "upper class" slave, who had some degree of independence and free
thought. He was able to purchase his freedom in 1800 by winning a lottery of $600. From
there he resided in Charleston, South Carolina as a carpenter. He was highly influenced
by Christianity and was very religious. This later inspired him to make plans to free his
fellow slaves. In particular, he liked to use the story of the deliverance of the
Israelites from the Egyptians. He related it to the situation that the slaves were in,
and used it to inspire other blacks to rebel against their plight. In 1821, he began
organizing a revolt of his own with Peter Poyas. Peter Poyas arranged the rebellion into
a sort of hierarchy. Slaves were placed into groups with different leaders, who then
reported to Peter Poyas and Denmark Vesey. This grouping was simple, but brilliant. He
was able to prevent the entire plot from being divulged by one slave, because only the
leaders had complete knowledge of the extent of resistance. Therefore, if a slave
betrayed the plot, they would only be informing on their group.

The scheme was that a fire would be started by a group of rebels. Outside the homes of
whites, different groups of insurrectionists would be waiting for the men to come out the
door and would then proceed to kill them. Many of the slaves in the plantations
surrounding Charleston had joined the revolt, and the numbers kept growing. Although,
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