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, Gabriel’s 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, they were betrayed almost from the beginning, the cell system stopped slave owners from discovering the magnitude of the resistance. Ironically, the night before the attack, officials were informed of the entire plot by a house servant. They then made preparations to thwart the attempt, and the entire operation was terminated. Denmark Vesey was tried and convicted along with 67 others. Thirty-five of his followers, including Denmark Vesey were then executed. His conspiracy frightened Southerners, because the thoroughness and cunning of it were a stunning blow to them.
On October 2, 1800, a "prophet" was born. Nat Turner was the only rebel who’s fight against slave owners was successful. He was brought up despising slavery. In fact, his mother attempted to kill him when he was a baby in order to save him from the life of a slave. Nat Turner was another greatly devout man. He learned to read from one of his master’s sons and devoted his time to religion. During his life he had several "visions". In 1821, he ran away from his plantation, but was then visited by the Spirit