Central Question: How do we define and understand resistance to slavery in regards to the 1822 trial and execution of Denmark Vesey?


An official report of the trials of sundry Negroes, 1822

Most textbook authors have traditionally ignored or mentioned only very briefly Denmark Vesey and the 1822 insurrection plot in Charleston, SC, in their coverage and treatment of the development of slavery, its impact upon black Americans, the strategies employed by whites to preserve or strengthen the institution, and the strategies that were tried by black Americans to ameliorate life in slave society or to overturn slavery itself. A deeper and more nuanced examination of the trial records from the Vesey plot can complicate students' knowledge of how historians interpret the past as well as broaden their understanding of the politics of slavery, definitions of heroism and resistance to slavery, and the contours of daily life for slaves and free blacks in the antebellum South.

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