Denmark Vesey by David M. Robertson
The Buried History of America's Largest Slave Rebellion and the Man Who Led It

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On July 2, 1822, Denmark Vesey and five co-conspirators were hanged in a desolate marsh outside of Charleston, South Carolina. They had been betrayed by black informers during their attempt to set in motion the largest slave rebellion in the history of the United States--an effort astonishing in its level of organization and support. Nine thousand armed slaves and free blacks were to converge on Charleston, set the city aflame, seize the government arsenal, and then murder the entire white population of the city, sparing only the ship captains who would carry Vesey and his followers to Haiti or Africa.

The attempted revolt was a significant episode in American history, yet it, and its leader, have been all but forgotten. In this balanced and gracefully written biography of Vesey--the first in many decades--David Robertson gives us a profile of this extraordinary man. He shows how, by preaching a doctrine of negritude combined with various religious elements, Vesey was able to attract large numbers of blacks to a messianic crusade for freedom. Robertson details the aftermath of the failed revolt, analyzes its social and political consequences, and articulates the essential, disturbing questions it poses to a racially and ethnically pluralistic society today.

About David M. Robertson

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David Robertson is the author of a biography of James F. Byrnes and Booth: A Novel. He lives in La France, South Carolina.
Published August 24, 1999 by Alfred A. Knopf. 202 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction

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A fascinating historical detective story about an abortive 1822 slave insurrection in Charleston, S.C. Little survives in the historical record about Denmark Vesey, the free black who masterminded what could have been the most devastating uprising in American history.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Denmark Vesey: The Buried His...

Publishers Weekly

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Much is already known about Denmark Vesey, who purchased his freedom from slavery in 1800 with money he won in a lottery. Yet his apparently sudden transformation from successful free black carpenter

Aug 02 1999 | Read Full Review of Denmark Vesey: The Buried His...

Publishers Weekly

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Drawing on the correspondence and memoirs of whites and their descendants--but not of blacks--Robertson addresses his central question: ""Why were individual freedom and prosperity not enough for Denmark Vesey?"" The author's answer, which links Vesey's dissatisfaction (and that of the thousands ...

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Los Angeles Times

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It is the story of a young slave well-regarded by his master, schooled in French and English, who by a stroke of luck--he won $1,500 in a lottery--purchased his freedom, lived respectably for years as a free man in Charleston and conceived of the idea of gathering 9,000 slaves into an avenging ar...

Sep 23 1999 | Read Full Review of Denmark Vesey: The Buried His...

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