1767?–1822, African-American leader. After many years as a slave he won (1800) $1,500 in a lottery and purchased his freedom. Intelligent and energetic, he acquired considerable wealth and influence in South Carolina. Using church meetings as a cover, he supposedly planned (1822) a slave insurrection with the intention of taking over Charleston, killing whites, and, if necessary, fleeing to Haiti. Accused by informers, Vesey was hanged along with 34 slaves. Some historians now doubt that Vesey's conspiracy ever occurred.
See H. Aptheker, American Slave Revolts (1943); J. Lofton, Insurrection in South Carolina (1964); R. S. Starobin, ed., Denmark Vesey (1970); D. R. Egerton, He Shall Go Out Free (1999); D. Robertson, Denmark Vesey (1999).
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