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"V" is for Vesey, Denmark (ca. 1767-1822)

South Carolina From A to Z
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“V” is for Vesey, Denmark (ca. 1767-1822). Enslaved person, artisan, and abolitionist. Denmark Vesey probably was born on the Danish island of St. Thomas. In 1781 he was purchased by Joseph Vesey who later settled in Charleston. In 1799 the enslaved Denmark won the “East-Bay Lottery” and purchased his freedom. He chose to remain in Charleston where he became a carpenter. He was an early member and lay preacher of the city’s African Methodist Episcopal Church. After city officials closed the church as a danger to white control, Vesey began to consider a plan by which he might lead his children and followers into freedom in Haiti. The plot was betrayed in May 1822; he was arrested a month later. A special tribunal found Denmark Vesey guilty and sentenced him to hang on July 2, 1822.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.