Celebrating the extraordinary achievements of african americans

Denmark Vesey

1767 - July 2, 1822


Denmark Vessey, a self-educated black and a man believed to have planned the most extensive slave revolt in U.S. history, was born in 1767. He is sold into slavery in 1781 and was bought by the slave mater known as Joseph Vesey. Denmark won street lottery through which he was allowed to purchase his freedom for $600. Though he was freed, he was dissatisfied with the second-class status as a freedman, and was determined to help other slaves he knew. He read anti-slavery books and became very familiar with the Haitian slave revolt of the 1790s.

While working as a carpenter, Denmark organized an insurrection, which was planned to attack guardhouses and arsenals, seize arms, kill all whites and even to destroy the city. Following a tip-off by a slave, on the eve of the scheduled day for the attack, massive military operations were setup by the white authorities, which forestalled the insurrection. After the insurrection was forestalled, many blacks were arrested and about 67 were convicted, and 35 of these men, Denmark inclusive, were hanged, while 32 were condemned to exile, about four white men were fined and imprisoned for supporting the plot.