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Vesey Rebellion


VESEY REBELLION was an attempted uprising by slaves and freedmen in and around Charleston, South Carolina, in the spring of 1822.Some estimates put the number of participants at as many as 3,000 men.

The revolt was planned, over the course of 1821 and 1822, by a former slave and local carpenter named Denmark Vesey. Few details survive about Vesey's origin, but he was most likely born on the sugar plantation island of Saint Thomas in 1767 with the name Telemaque. He was bought by a sea captain named Joseph Vesey in 1781.Telemaque worked for Captain Vesey at sea and after he settled in Charleston. In 1799 Denmark Vesey won $1500 in the East Bay Lottery. He was able to purchase his own freedom, but not that of his wife or children. This would be his principal reason for plotting the revolt.

A devout Christian, Vesey recruited groups of followers from the African Methodist Episcopal Church as well as from among artisans and rural slaves. The final date set for the revolt was 16 June 1822.Vesey proposed that the insurgents take the city ammunitions depository, plunder the local banks, slaughter every white person in the city, and sail to Saint Dominique. A week prior to the attack, insiders began to alert the authorities. The revolt was foiled, and Vesey and thirty-five others were hanged.


Egerton, Douglas R. He Shall Go Out Free. Madison, Wisc.: Madison House Press, 1999.

Robertson, David. Denmark Vesey. New York: Knopf, 1999.

Michael K.Law

See alsoSlave Insurrections .

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