About the Author

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

Denmark Vesey

Secondary Sources

Egerton, Douglas R. He Shall Go Out Free: The Lives of Denmark Vesey. Madison: Madison House, 1999. A sweeping biography of Denmark Vesey that imagines him as a great rebel leader in the 19th-century Atlantic world.

Freehling, William C. Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816-1836. New York: Harper & Row, 1965. A classic examination of the political culture of antebellum South Carolina that highlights the ways in which anxieties about slavery were exacerbated by the aborted Denmark Vesey rebellion.

Pearson, Edward R., ed. Designs Against Charleston: The Trial Record of the Denmark Vesey Slave Conspiracy of 1822. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1999. NOTE: This source is now out of print. One of three recent re-examinations of the Vesey conspiracy that sees Vesey as a heroic but doomed rebel leader, it also includes an error-riddled transcription of the Official Report produced by the Charleston court in 1822. Now out of print.

Robertson, David. Denmark Vesey: The Buried History of America's Largest Slave Rebellion and the Man Who Led It. New York: Knopf, 1999. This biography portrays Denmark Vesey as a messianic leader who sought to liberate blacks—both slave and free—from the cruelty and suffering of life in a slave society.

Wade, Richard C. "The Vesey Plot: A Reconsideration." The Journal of Southern History 30:2 (1964): 143–161. NOTE: JSTOR access required to read online. In this essay, Professor Wade was the first historian to question seriously the reliability of the Official Report and to suggest that Denmark Vesey may have been framed. Most historians until recently rejected Wade's argument.

Wikramanayake, Marina. "A World in Shadow: The Free Black in Antebellum South Carolina." Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1973. NOTE: JSTOR access required to read online. An examination of the identity of the free black in South Carolina that questions the accuracy of the Official Report

"Forum: The Making of a Slave Conspiracy, part 1." William and Mary Quarterly 58:4 (October 2001). Part 1 consists solely of Michael P. Johnson's essay reviewing three recent books on the Vesey rebellion and interrogating their arguments and usage of evidence. This essay in some ways resurrected Richard C. Wade's nearly 40-year-old argument that Vesey was framed.

"Forum: The Making of a Slave Conspiracy, part 2." William and Mary Quarterly, 59:1 (January 2002). Part 2 consists of responses by Douglas R. Egerton, Edward A. Pearson, and David Robertson, the authors of the three recent books reviewed by Johnson in Part 1. It also includes additional essays by five prominent historians of slavery and a closing response by Michael P. Johnson. The "Forum" represents the best single source for understanding the contours of the historical debate concerning Denmark Vesey.