Insurrection and Hope
Montclair State University
December 7, 2012
Throughout the South both upper and lower slavery was a common practice and a huge source of what drove the economy. Slaves where the building blocks of many Southern states and had a direct correlation between slave production and state production. They where intermingled at such a high level that many people even if they felt slavery was immoral knew it was necessary in order to make their states run properly. Owners of slaves needed these African Americans in order to work their fields and work in their homes because that is the way things where run in the U.S. during the Antebellum era. Slaves where seen as inhuman, not fit to share the same lifestyle as their white masters. They did not belong in the same light as a white person. Many people in the South believed that these African Americans where put on this earth to be slaves and nothing more. They should not be able to live freely with their families because to white southerners they where nothing but a second-class citizen if that. Slaves where treated with little respect in most cases and would be punished sometimes severely other times minimally depending on the offense. Many slaves were content with what they had been given that their lives were going to be as slaves and nothing more. While this was the case their was many slaves that knew what was being done to them was extremely wrong and that they should not stand by idle, while these immoralities continued. Many slaves wanted to be freed and they thought through rebellions and insurrections this could be achieved. This idea of a rebellion was a good one. America was build through the revolution a rebellion of sorts so it could be done. America got its freedom from England, so in turn slaves should be able to rise up and earn their freedom. Throughout slavery in the U.S. rebellions did occur but none as famous or infamous as the ones of Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey. Ultimately both insurrections failed but by analyzing both insurrections one can come to the conclusions of why they failed and what hope they gave to the slave community. First, was the Denmark Vesey insurrection this insurrection never came to fruition because the plot was thwarted before it even began. Demark Vesey was first a slave to Captain Vesey for twenty years during this time he traveled all throughout the world and learned various languages. In 1800 Vesey “drew a prize of fifteen hundred dollars in the East Bay Street Lottery, with which he bought his freedom from his master for six hundred dollars, -- much less than his market value. From that time, the official report says, he worked as a carpenter in Charleston, distinguished for physical strength and energy. “Among those of his color he was looked up to with awe and respect. His temper was impetuous and domineering in the extreme, qualifying him for the despotic rule of which he was ambitious. All his passions were ungovernable and savage.” Before he had any intentions of an insurrection he quietly instilled the idea that what was being done to blacks in South Carolina was not expectable and morally wrong. Vesey used scripture to influence many of his followers. Vesey would compare the Israelites to his people of color using the scripture from Zechariah xiv. 1-3, and Joshua, VI. 21. In doing this he was able to identify what they went through and what Vesey’s brothers of color were going through. On May 25, 1822 Peter a Slave of John Prioleau, told his owner’s wife that he had heard a rumor about a slave insurrection.Peter stated that "On Saturday afternoon last (my master being out of town) I went to market; after finishing my business, I strolled down the wharf below the fish-market, from which I observed a small vessel in the stream with a singular flag; whilst looking at this object, a black man (Mr. Paul's William) came up to me and remarking the subject which engaged my attention,...
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