An Essay On The Historical Relevance Of The Slave Revolts Of Gabriel Prosser, Nat Turner, And Denmark Vassey

1367 words - 5 pages

The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal and hold certain unalienable rights, among these being, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but for those not even considered to be human seldom achieved the acknowledgement of these rights through peaceful means, but often through tumultuous violence and the abrupt ending of lives. Slavery is an institution that clearly denies these basic rights, allowing for the inhumane treatment of people because of the color of their skin. The legacies of slave rebellion leaders such as Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser, and Denmark Vassey have and continue to be an undeniable and ubiquitous proponent of the antebellum/anti-slavery period.Very few, if any, African-Americans accepted or were contented with their status as slaves, as was no different with Gabriel Prosser. Prosser was the twenty-four year old leader of the first major slave revolt in the south. Fueled by religious indignation against the institution of slavery, Prosser began to carefully devise plans to forcefully overtake the city of Richmond, Virginia in 1800. Prosser planned to first invade Richmond and attack its armory and then arm the rebel slaves. By August of the same year, Prosser had succeeded in organizing over a thousand slaves and had a immense amount of armory, including guns. On the day of the planned attack, with over a thousand followers ready to revolt, Prosser was betrayed by two of followers. Along with the destruction of the bridges leading into Richmond by a flood, Prosser and his followers were attacked by the state militia and he and his followers were hanged. Although Prosser's revolt ended in defeat, it succeeded in striking fear in the very hearts of slave owners throughout the south. Prosser had not only come incredibly close to overtaking Richmond, but his revolt was the closest that America came to a revolution that measured on the same scale as that of the Haitian revolution of 1792. Had Prosser not been betrayed and if the bridges had not washed out, it is almost certain that he would have successfully taken the city of Richmond along with the help and determination of his slave followers.Denmark Vassey, like many other African-American leaders of the nineteenth century, came from what was considered to be the "upper class" of slaves, the engineers and craftspeople who were given a high degree of independence and self-actualization, as opposed to those who worked the fields or even those allowed to work in the plantation home. After purchasing his own freedom, he took residence in the city of Charleston, South Carolina and earned a living as a carpenter. While he was considered of "high class", his cause and pursuit was yet still the same as any other slave: the attainment of man's undeniable and ubiquitous rights. Like Prosser, Vassey was filled with anger and resentment towards slavery and the circumstances surrounding black slaves. Like Prosser, Vassey was heavily influenced by...

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