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Denmark Vesey

(c. 1767—1822)

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(c. 1767–1822)

Leader of a planned American slave revolt. A slave who had educated himself and purchased his freedom having won a street lottery, Vesey in 1822 inspired a group of slaves with the idea of seizing the arsenals of Charleston, South Carolina, as a prelude to a mass escape to the West Indies. However, the plan was betrayed by a house servant and Vesey and about 130 of his followers were arrested, 32 were exiled and 35, including Vesey, were hanged. The authorities responded by tightening the restrictive “black codes” as a means of controlling the slave population.

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