Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Denmark Vesey

Denmark Vesey (Telemanque) was born 1767 in West Africa. As a child, he was captured by slavers and transported to the Americas. Denmark spent his early years on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas. In 1781, a slaver named Captain Joseph Vesey of Charleston, SC., purchased the young Denmark. Denmark would remain a “model” domestic slave for 20 years. Fortunately, in 1800 Denmark won a $1,500 lottery prize and used the money to purchase his own freedom. After becoming a free man, Denmark worked as a carpenter and made an honest living in the city of Charleston. Although Denmark was now "free," he was still dissatisfied with the plight of his brothers and sisters still in bondage.

In 1816, Denmark co-founded a Charleston branch (Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church) the A.M.E. Church. Vesey would continue with church activities over the next few years. The year was now 1822 and Denmark Vesey made up his mind to mobilize the masses of freed and enslaved Africans for the sake of freedom. He was inspired by the revolution that had taken place in Haiti. Vesey’s rebellion was originally scheduled for July 14, 1822. He had gathered the support of 1900 men. His plan was to slay the masters, seize Charleston, S.C., and sail to newly independent black country of Haiti to escape retaliation.

This is all the information that two of Vesey's recruits needed to tell the authorities in Charleston about Vesey’s planned revolt. Vesey soon learned of the betrayal on June 16, 1822 and attempted to launch his rebellion, but authorities would seize him on June 18, 1822 before he could carry out this bloody mission. The authorities’ decision: 12 were pardoned and 37, including Denmark Vesey, were hanged. There are some who speculate that the entire Vesey plot was a hoax; Nevertheless, there had been many slave revolts in North America, South America, and the Caribbean since the beginning of the colonies. There would be more to follow:

Nat Turner, North Hampton County, Virginia --1831; Guyana, The Demerara Rebellions of 1795 and 1823; Jamaica's Baptist War, 1831-1832, led by the Baptist preacher, Samuel Sharpe; the Black Seminole Rebellion (Maroon and Slaves combined) 1835 and Joseph Cinque, Cuban Amistad ship in 1839.
Sources: africawithin.com, and siu.edu, and wikipedia.org
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