Pages

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Denmark Vessey


Denmark Vessey (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 Vessey of Charleston, SC., purchased the young Denmark. Demark 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 of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Vessey would continue with church activities over the next few years. The year was now 1822 and Denmark Vessey made up his mind to mobilze the masses of freed and enslaved Africans for the sake of freedom. He was inspired by the revolution that had taken place in Haiti. Vessey’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 Vessey's recruits needed to tell the authorities in Charleston about Vessey’s planned revolt. Vessey 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 Vessey, were hanged. There are some who speculate that the entire Vessey 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

11 comments:

Lovebabz said...

Thanks Stephen Bess,

Your blog is like taking a class in Black history, world history and music and culture!

Christina said...

Painful and beautiful at the same time. I thank you for this. :)

Kawana Aminata Oliver said...

Beautiful ;-)

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

another one of my hero's

Stephen Bess said...

Lovebabz-
My pleasure. :)

Christina-
Thank you for stopping by.

Kawana-
Thanks. Good to see you.

TStphens-
Here too. His very name connotes power and resistance.

Rich said...

the sad part is that there's always one of us willing to sell us out.

great refresher.

Emil said...

Must admit my ignorance - I did not know about him. I have an excuse :-)

Anyway, I will investigate further. It is still sad that the malice of man can revert to oppression such as slavery and other forms of oppression.

Stephen Bess said...

Rich-
There are so many. The same happened to Gabriel Prosser in 1800. We can never underestimate the damage that has taken place from centuries of oppression. It still affects/infects us today. Thanks.

Emil-
Yes, as James Baldwin said, The Devil Finds Work.
Well, I'm happy that you can take something from here today. Peace~

Crankyputz said...

I love these little stories, YOu are a true teacher...

Guyana-Gyal said...

We had our very own rebellion too, started by Cuffy.

What Rich says is painfully true, 'the sad part is that there's always one of us willing to sell us out.'

Did you ever get to see that documentary I mentioned some weeks ago? About the prince of slaves? That man is one of my heroes now.

BronzeBuckaroo said...

I read about these brave brothers from yesterday and wonder about so many things. Just to imagine the strength and courage it took to stand up and fight not knowing the possible outcome. It takes courage to stand your ground! Then, there are some things one must fight. Fears be damned!