Nicholas: 1.) The confession of Monday Gell provided much evidence for the South Carolinians that there was a conspiracy. Gell affirms that he was asked by Vesey to join him and his followers to overcome the whites. By meeting with them, he became aware of the plans and although at first he said no, he agreed to join the cause. Gell also gave names of people that were involved (such as Lewis Remoussin, Peter, Poyas, Ned Bennet, Jack Purcell, Perault Strohecker, Edward Johnson, Albert Inglis, John the cooper, William Garner, Sandy Vesey, Mingo Harth, Lot Forrester, etc). Furthermore, Denmark Vesey had a connection to the slave revolt in Santo Domingo during the Revolutionary War. Therefore, he experienced a slave revolt and learned from it to benefit his plans against the whites in Charleston.
2.) In, “Reflections, Occasioned by the late disturbances in Charleston,” the author states several ideas to attribute the conspiracy to. First, the uprising in Santo Domingo provided precedence and encouragement, the slaves wanted the same liberty that all the other citizens possessed, the fact that the blacks were taught to read and write, allowing them to read, understand, and act on the Press, those who had jobs had access to money, and the disparity between the number of blacks and whites in the city.
Rebecca M.: 1) What evidence convinced white South Carolinians that there was a conspiracy? What convinced them that particular individuals were involved?
Denmark Vesey was planning one of the biggest slave revolts ever to be recorded. It was to take place in mid June. At the last minute, an inside informant told the authorities of the plan. The authorities downplayed the news, claiming they had been aware of the plan for a long time, but they let the plan continue so they could be sure to capture who was behind it. For fear of further revolts, the authorities put Vesey and the other slaves to death.
The authorities were aware of the names of the other slaves involved because of one man named Monday Gull. Gull was one of Vesey's closest leutenients in this revolt plot, and after being captured he released several other names that were also involved in the revolt. He gave names like John Vincent, Edward Johnson, Billy Palmer, Lewis Remoussin, Jack Glen and Lot Forrester. While confessing to playing a role in the conspiracy, Gell implicated about 25 other people.
2) To what did they attribute the conspiracy?
When the black slaves began taking strides to become more educated, the white South Carolinians became nervous that a conspiracy would happen. Santo Domingo was giving the slaves lots of support, which must have been suspecious. Also, the need the Slaves had for liberty, and the "idleness, dissipation, and improper indulgencies permitted among all classes of the Negroes in Charlston and particularly amoung the domestics", and they were also being taught to read and write. The slaves also were getting jobs that were paying sufficient amount of money.
- It appears as though the entire Vesey conspiracy was uncovered by George Wilson, a black Charleston slave who blew the lid on the plan when he reported an intended insurrection to his master. Although Wilson is described as a “a favourite and confidential slave," the background information did not explain his motivations behind revealing the plot to his owner.
The particular individuals who were associated with the conspiracy and later sentenced to death seem largely to have been convicted on the confession of Monday Gell. As one of Vesey’s right-hand lieutenants in the plot, Gell was privy to a wealth of information, including the names and involvement of over twenty-five men. Citing his reason for confessing only as that of “a man who knows he is about to die,” Gell openly related the conversations he was involved in and/or heard in his store, and freely implicated all of the men he had interacted with.
Vesey also disappeared after the rumors of an insurrection surfaced, and was in fact missing for several days. According to documents published by Charleston Intendant (Mayor) Hamilton, Vesey was extremely close to fleeing the city on an outgoing ship before he was captured and brought to trial. Although this does not provide any ironclad proof of Vesey’s guilt, it nevertheless probably served to further flame suspicion among the white community.
- In Reflections, Occasioned by the late Disturbances in Charleston, the anonymous author attributes five main causes of the attempted rebellion. They are as follows:
- The example of Santa Domingo, and the support it was believed Vesey and his gang received from there.
- The “indiscreet zeal in favor of universal liberty” that was promoted by Northern states and in particular by the black populations in those states.
- The “idleness, dissipation, and improper indulgencies” allowed among blacks in Charleston, the most serious of which was their ability to read and write. It was suggested that a tighter rein on the black population would have prevented them from learning about the idea of a revolt in the first place, or at least would have quashed any ability for them to join together.
- The allowance of free blacks to earn money through employment.
- The disproportionate number of blacks to whites among the population.
Finally, according to the sentencing of Gullah Jack, delivered by Presiding Magistrate L.H. Kennedy, Jack and other leaders of the suspected insurrection “endeavored to enlist on your behalf, all the powers of darkness.” It was alleged that the leaders purposely misrepresented themselves as undefeatable, thus manipulating the feeble minds of uneducated blacks by convincing them of the infallibility of the insurrection. Again there is little conclusive evidence as to the source of this information and how reliable it might be.
Kerri: What evidence convinced white South Carolinians that there was a conspiracy?
“On May 30, 1822, George Wilson, "a favourite and confidential slave" informed his master of a planned insurrection that involved thousands of free and enslaved blacks who lived in and around Charleston.” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part3/3p2976.html
“In 1822, in Charleston, South Carolina, Vesey masterminded what would have been the largest slave revolt in American history. When an informer revealed the plans at the last minute and the revolt was nipped in the bud, Charleston authorities downplayed the story, claiming that they had "allowed" the plot to progress so as to ensure the capture of its leaders.”
“Scholars have found in the Vesey conspiracy a testament to African-American resistance to slavery and a revealing glimpse into the world of black Charlestonians during the early republic.”
What convinced them that particular individuals were involved? To what did they attribute the conspiracy?
“Charleston authorities subsequently uncovered evidence of the most extensive black insurrection in American history, planned for July, 1822. The city's suppression of the African Church, which boasted a membership of over three thousand in 1820, provided the catalyst for revolt; Denmark Vesey began using his position as a respected free man and Methodist leader to organize other free and enslaved blacks.”
“Among Vesey's co-conspirators was Gullah Jack Pritchard, an African priest from Mozambique. Monday Gell, another of his lieutenants, wrote two letters to the president of Santo Domingo seeking support for the insurrection.”
Kevin: 1.) The general idea of there being any kind of conspiracy was brought forward by George Wilson. He was the slave that informed his master of a planned insurrection that involved thousands of free and enslaved blacks who lived in and around Charleston, in May of 1822. Other evidence that may have convinced white South Carolinians that there was a conspiracy is listed in the document titled, "Reflections, Occasioned by the late Disturbances in Charleston." The article talks about the "indiscreet zeal" in favor of universal liberty, expressed by many of the citizens from states north and east of Maryland. The article also talks about the "improper indulgencies" that have been permitted among all classes of the negroes in Charleston, such as their being taught to read and write. Another point, which we aluded to in class, was the mere number of blacks as compared to whited in the city. That was one element for a possible conspiracy that whites felt no effort could remove. Evidence like the two letters to the president of Santo Domingo seeking support for the insurrection, helped pinpoint who may have been involved in the insurrection conspiracy. The confession of Monday Gell was also crucial in the understanding of who was involved in the conspiracy and in what ways.
2.) They attributed the conspiracy to things like the city's suppression of the African Church, which boasted a membership of over three thousand in 1820. This was a good catalyst for conspiracy and a revolt. The conspiracy was also attributed to the two letters to the president of Santo Domingo seeking support for the insurrection. More importantly, as stated earlier, was the increasing amount of literate blacks in the city and the influence that could have on the planning and success of a conspiracy.
Francis: 1) In May of 1822, George Wilson, a trusted slave, informed his master of a planned insurrection that involved many free and enslaved blacks who resided in the Charleston area. Charleston authorities immediately uncovered evidence for a large African American insurrection planned to occur in July 1822. The Confession of Monday Gell, one of Vesey’s lieutenants, also provided abundant evidence to convict Vesey and twenty-five other co-conspirators, including Gullah Jack Pritchard and Frank Ferguson. According to Gell, Vesey had been trying to recruit blacks, both free and enslaved, in Charleston and devised a plan to overcome the whites living there. Denmark Vessey, who had survived the brutality of slavery on a ship, decided it was time to end slavery and to free his black brothers and sisters.
2) An anonymous writer wrote what he believed to be the main causes of the Vessy insurrection: “the example of Santo Domingo;” “the instigation of the Northern states;” “the indulgencies which have so pampered the city’s black domestics, especially literacy; the profitable occupations that led to “the possession of much money by blacks;” and the size of the black populations in Charleston” (Reflections). Monday Gell had supposedly written letters to Santo Domingo asking for support for their future rebellion against the southern whites. Many southerners were afraid of Vesey’s temperaments, ambitions, connections to Santo Domingo, and power in the African Church in Charleston. Vesey organized free and enslaved blacks in 1820 when Charleston tried to suppress the Methodist Church they belonged to. White southerners also realized that many of the blacks living in the South were educated, persuasive, and overall possessed a great deal of money. White southerners were also weary of the large black population residing near them and decided not to take any chances.
Mindy: 1. What evidence convinced white South Carolinians
that there was a conspiracy? What convinced them that
particular individuals were involved?
First and perhaps most significantly, South
Carolinians were convinced when George Wilson informed
his master of the impending conspiracy. As far as the
people involved, South Carolinians most likely assumed
that Vesey was involved because of his leadership role
as a free man and his ability to organize (The Vesey
Conspiracy). Throughout much of his youth, Denmark was
characterized as impulsive and ambitious, two
qualities that may seem consistent with those needed
to enact a rebellion. Perhaps also, Vesey was assumed
to be a primary conspirator because he had endeavored
to conceal himself right after Wilson had leaked
information about his imminent rebellion (Denmark).
The white Carolinians pronounced Gullah Jack's guilt
after finding out that he was involved with conjuring
and other seemingly dark, superstitious activities. It
may have appeared to the whites that he was up to no
good by acting as if he was invincible, especially
during this time period (Sentence). Additionally,
Monday Gell was condemned because of his own
suspicious letters to the president of Santo Domingo
in which he asked for support for the rebellion (The
Vesey Conspiracy). The white South Carolinians most
likely were convinced further of the guilt of many
conspirators by Monday Gell's confession in which he
not only admits to the entire plan of the conspiracy
but also names several more people involved.
2. To what did they attribute the conspiracy? (What
did they think was going on?)
Most white South Carolinians attributed the potential
rebellion primarily to the repression of the African
Church (The Vesey Conspiracy). They seemingly believed
that the conspiracy could be traced back to the
increased literacy and better professions of African
Americans. This increased education and opportunity
would certainly have contributed to the rise of money
in such communities in South Carolina. Also, white
South Carolinians believed that the overwhelming black
population in South Carolina was undoubtedly a factor
in the planned rebellion (“Reflections”).
Additionally, the white population in the 1820's
believed that the possible support received from Santo
Domingo might have promoted such a conspiracy.
Furthermore, whites at this time thought that given
the supposedly impressionable nature of the black
population, the Press could have also contributed by
giving them ideas and information (“Reflections”).
They may have also attributed the conspiracy somewhat
to Denmark himself. His upbringing and personality as
a self-freed slave probably made the white people
assume that he was capable of leading such a
rebellion. Being dominant, responsible, and willing to
lead seem like impeccable qualities for a conspiracy
Confession of Monday Gell. Brotherly Love: Resource
aia/part3/3p2976.html, 17 January 2007.
Denmark Vesey brought before the Court. Brotherly
Love: Resource Bank.
“Reflections, Occasioned by the late Disturbances in
Charleston.” Brotherly Love: Resource
17 January 2007.
Sentence of Gullah Jack. Brotherly Love: Resource
976.html, 17 January 2007.
The Vesey Conspiracy. Brotherly Love: Resource Bank.
976.html, 17 January 2007.