Denmark Vesey: Freedom Rebellion in Charleston, South Carolina

by | Dec 10, 2017 | Did You Know, DYK, History | 0 comments

Denmark Vesey, an illiterate and skilled carpenter, was born around 1767 in St. Thomas.

In late 1799, Denmark Vesey, who was then known as Telemaque, won over $1,000 in the lottery.  He gave his owner $600 in order to buy his own freedom, after which he created the name Denmark, from the area he was born, and Vesey, which was his owner’s last name.[1]

Even after developing his own successful business, Vesey was never able to purchase his wife’s freedom, which also meant their children would remain in slavery.   Many people speculate this is one of the reasons Denmark Vesey helped plan one of the biggest slave rebellions in the history of the United States.[2]

In 1822, Vesey and other members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church began planning a freedom revolt, eventually gaining the support of many free and enslaved African Americans around the city of Charleston.  The revolt was set for July and the plan was to burn the city of Charleston and kill every white person they saw.  However, this revolt never happened because one slave who heard of the revolt informed his master.[3]

Denmark Vesey and several other people who helped plan the uprising were hung on July 2, 1822, for attempting to raise a rebellion.  It is reported that Vesey, who was accused of being the ringleader of the revolt, was hung with about 5 other people; later there is said to be about 30 other people that were hung for participating in the planning of the revolt.[4]

After the revolt was revealed, the church which helped Vesey plan the uprising, was burned to the ground and no other black churches were to be formed.

The city of Charleston also built a fortress, which is known as The Citadel, in order to keep any other rebellions from occurring.[5]

[1]  “Denmark Vesey.” Wikipedia. November 01, 2017. Accessed November 10, 2017.

[2]Faith by Far: Denmark Vesey.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service,

[3] ibid

[4]Denmark Vesey.” Wikipedia. November 01, 2017. Accessed November 10, 2017.

[5]Denmark Vesey in Charleston: Slave Revolt That Didn’t Happen.” Time, Time,

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