African-Americans fought slavery
Who was Denmark Vesey?
When Denmark was 14 years old, his owner sold him to a Captain Vesey of a trading ship (which is how he got his last name). The captain sold Denmark to a plantation owner in Haiti, but Denmark pretended to have severe epilepsy so he couldn’t work in the coffee or sugar cane fields. The plantation owner demanded a refund, and Denmark became Vesey’s cabin boy instead (his epilepsy stopped as soon as he was out of danger).
Vesey’s life as a free man
When Denmark Vesey was in his early 30s, he won a lottery, and the captain let him buy his freedom. Vesey became a carpenter in Charleston, South Carolina. There were a lot of black people in Charleston, but almost all of them were enslaved. They were unhappy with the white preachers who told them that God wanted them to be slaves, so Denmark Vesey and other people built a new church for black people to go to – slave or free.
In the evenings, Denmark Vesey taught people to read and write in the church, even though that was illegal. In 1818, the city arrested and whipped the teachers – probably including Vesey. So in 1822, Vesey organized a revolt.
He planned for slaves to kill their owners, capture ships, and sail to Haiti where a successful slave revolt had brought freedom. Just before the revolt, though – on June 16, 1822 – someone betrayed the plan. The city arrested and hanged Vesey and dozens of other black leaders, and burned down their church.