Gabriel Prosser

“ The sky flushed as they put him in the cart,
and suddenly Gabriel thought of others, the ones who were
to follow him, the ones who waited in their cells because of
his leadership, these and others, others, and still others, a
world of others who were to follow”( Gabriel’s Rebellion).
Gabriel Prosser was a slave leader who in 1800 proposed a
plan to liberate slaves. Gabriel drew up a plan to free his
fellow slaves in Richmond, Virginia and the surrounding
countryside. Gabriel was a blacksmith, working in
Brookfield and in Richmond, who had learned to read and
write. He was inspired by the declarations of freedom during
the Revolutionary War. During the late spring and early
summer of 1800 he made a plan of revolt and had hundreds
of followers to back him up, including his two brothers,
Martin and Solomon. His plan called for a band of armed
slaves, mainly black and white laborers and artisans, to enter
Richmond, Virginia and burn down the business district, take
the governor as hostage and seize whatever arms they could.
Then the black slaves would win there freedom. However,
on August 13, 1800, the day planned for the revolt, an
unusually violent storm broke out, washing out bridges and
roads and stopping all travel. They could not reach
Richmond. Also, slaves Tom and Pharoah informed there
master. He brought the news to the governor, James
Monroe, who had a guard placed at every marked spot for
attack, called out state militia, and ordered a series of
arrests. By September fifteenth, ten people included in the
open revolt were hanged. Gabriel was captured on
September twenty fourth and hanged on October seventh,
his execution having been delayed twice in hopes that he
would make a confession. In all thirty six people were caught
and hanged. Many other uprisings followed this one.
Although, the carefully planned uprising never took place it
left fear in the hearts of whites and pride in the hearts of
blacks. As a result of Gabriel’s uprising whites who had
previously spoken on behalf of the slaves found themselves
silenced in the Upper South. White Southerners who
favored the colonization of blacks, sending them to Africa,
received more widespread support. The plot revealed the
risks that blacks were prepared to take to have their
freedom. Also, many blacks planned even bigger uprisings
than that of Gabriel. One of them being Sancho, a
conspirator attached to the Petersburg wing of Gabriel’s
rebellion. It was to take place on either Good Friday or
Easter Sunday. It spread as far East as Norfolk, Virginia,
and as far south as Halifax, Hertford, Berrie, And Martin
counties in northeastern North Carolina. Many blacks
escaped from slavery to freedom. Despite fugitive slave laws
passed by Congress, runaways were often helped by
abolitionists who sought to the institution of slavery. A slave

Category: History