Little Known Players In African American History

The use of slave labor was a well known practice for several decades in the world community. With the discovery of new lands with great promise to offer, the world’s economy was fast flourishing. The demands for crop produce in large volumes made the slave trade the ideal solution for labor problems. And America was no exception. In fact African American slaves soon outnumbered the white population because of the large import volume.

However, slaves weren’t just made to work the lands, they were made to forget their lifestyles, disciplines and culture. Slave masters world over established slave codes which robbed the Africans of their freedom and will power. Although many slaves did try to resist this treatment they were met with strict and cruel forms of punishment for disobeying their masters. Slaves were forbidden from carrying guns, taking food, striking their masters, and running away. In fact any and all slaves could be flogged or killed for resisting or breaking the established slave codes.

Freedom was perhaps the main issue on the minds of those enslaved African Americans. American historical records have identified several attempts of rebellion and some of the key players who were involved in the African’s quest for freedom on American soil. Perhaps the three main personalities who pioneered freedom for African American slaves include: Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey, and Nat Turner.

In August of 1800 Gabriel Prosser decided to free himself along with about 1,000 other slaves. His game plan revolved around killing most of the white residents and taking over the town of Richmond, Virginia. History records show that an untimely and severe thunderstorm caused the slave revolters to disband. Unfortunately, three slaves also revealed the plot, and so Gabriel Prosser and thirty-six of the slaves were identified, tried, and executed.

Denmark Vesey was another pioneer of slave abolition. He had obtained his freedom in 1800 and was especially upset by the whole system of slavery that he wanted to destroy it entirely. He wanted a full-fledged war using armed slaves to kill white slave owners in the city of Charleston, South Carolina. Unfortunately in 1822, and after several years of planning, his idea to attack and “liberate” the city was revealed. Leading to his own and several of his co-conspirators’ arrest. In the case of Nat Turner he had a religious zeal and a belief that he was specifically chosen to free himself and his slave brethren.

This 31 year old preacher to the slaves constructed a plan of “terror and devastation.” His organized revolt became America’s most famous and violent act involving slave resistance. On August 21, 1831, Nat Turner and six other slaves killed Turner’s plantation master and his family in Southampton County, Virginia. Turner’s band of slave supporters grew quickly, as they went about killing a total of 60 white slave owners, including their wives and children. Eventually, Federal and Virginia state troopers encountered the roving band of slaves and killed most of those in rebellion. Unfortunately this resulted in other slaves not connected to the rebellion also being killed.