About the Author

Kirt von Daacke is Associate Professor and Department Chair of History at Lynchburg College.

Denmark Vesey

Official Report (1822)


Published in 1822, the Official Report of the Trials of Sundry Negroes, Charged with an Attempt to Raise an Insurrection in the State of South Carolina: Preceded by an Introduction and Narrative; and, in an Appendix, a Report of the Trials of Four White Persons on Indictments of Attempting to Excite the Slaves to Insurrection presents the presiding magistrates' version of the case. This document includes a post-trial court-produced narrative of the planned rebellion and post-trial court-edited trial transcripts, all of which has served as the most significant body of evidence for historians who think Vesey indeed planned a rebellion in 1822. The full text of the report can be read at the Library of Congress.

Excerpt from the Official Report: Evidence: William, the slave of Mr. Paul, testified as follows: Mingo Harth told me that Denmark Vesey was the chiefest man, and more concerned than any one else—Denmark Vesey is an old man in whose yard my master's negro woman Sarah cooks—he was her father in law, having married her mother Beck, and though they have been parted some time, yet he visited her at her house near the Intendant's, (Major Hamilton) where I have often heard him speak of the rising—He said he would not like to have a white man in his presence—that he had a great hatred for the whites, and that if all were like him they would resist the whites—he studies all he can to put it into the heads of the blacks to have a rising against the whites, and tried to induce me to join—he tries to induce all his acquaintances—this has been his chief study and delight for a considerable time—my last conversation with him was in April—he studies the Bible a great deal and tries to prove from it that slavery and bondage is against the Bible. I am persuaded that Denmark Vesey was chiefly concerned in business. Evidence: Benjamin Ford, a white lad, about 15 or 16 years of age, deposed as follows: Denmark Vesey frequently came into our shop which is near his house, and always complained of the hardships of blacks—he said the laws were very rigid and strict and that the blacks had not their rights—that every one had his time, and that his would come round too—his general conversation was about religion which he would apply to slavery, as for instance, he would speak of the creation of the world, in which he would say all men had equal rights, blacks as well as whites, &c. all his religious remarks were mingled with slavery.