Denmark Vesey was an African-American leader of an attempted slave insurrection in 1822. After many years as a slave, he won $1,500 in a lottery. Vesey used this money to purchase his freedom. He used his intelligence, energy, and luck to acquire considerable wealth and influence in South Carolina. All of these factors helped lead to the largest attempted slave revolt in American history. David Robertson’s book Denmark Vesey outlines his life as a slave, to his freedom, to his execution, and the consequences of the aftermath.
South Carolina was one of the only states in which the black slaves and abolitionists outnumbered their oppressors. Denmark Vesey’s slave revolt consisted of over nine-thousand armed slaves, free blacks, and abolitionists, that would have absolutely devastated society in South Carolina for slave owners, and could have quite possibly been a major step towards the abolishment of slavery in the United states. Robertson succeeded in describing the harsh conditions of slaves in pre-civil war Charleston, South Carolina. This book also helped me to understand the distinctions between the different groups. These groups including the black slaves, free blacks, extreme abolitionists, and the pro-slavery communities.
David Robertson’s Denmark Vesey is sub-titled ‘The Buried History of America’s Largest Slave Rebellion and the Man Who Led It.’ This title is extremely appropriate because of the lack of available information regarding the Denmark Vesey rebellion. No one knows the details of the former-slave’s life such as his background, birthplace [“It is not confirmable whether Vesey was born in Africa or the West Indies.”], place of execution, or physical appearance. Charlestonian officials considered all facts and records of the plans of the revolt to be too dangerous to keep, with the fear of another slave being negatively influenced by them. Nearly all copies of the record of the event, an official report of his trial, and other information were confiscated and burned. The Denmark Vesey revolt is nearly forgotten because of this. Considering the resources that were available to Robertson, Denmark Vesey was well researched, and factual, without his own opinion showing through too much. For these thoughts he added in his own chapter “A Personal Conclusion.”
Due to the lack of information, Robertson’s book acts as a sort of introduction to the story, leaving more to be desired. Whether or not there is very much more information about Denmark Vesey to refer to is debatable. Denmark Vesey was detailed in certain areas such as antebellum conditions and other generally known events of the time. It had a considerable lack of detail in the area of the actual plans of revolt, those involved, and other issues.
Vesey took advantage of his situation after being freed from slavery, and educated...