Gabriel Prosser’s rebellion is thwarted when two enslaved Blacks inform their master of the plot.
1800 (Aug 30)
A slave uprising planned by Gabriel Prosser and Jack Bowler near Richmond, Virginia, was suspended because of bad weather and betrayal. Prosser was born in Virginia in 1776. In 1800, the young insurrectionist planned to seize an arsenal at Richmond, attack Whites in the area, and free the enslaved. It was hoped that the revolt would spread throughout the state. Perhaps as many as 1,000 enslaved Blacks were prepared to participate in what would have been one of the largest slave revolts in U.S. history. Prosser had won such a large following by telling fellow Blacks that he was their chosen leader, quoting scripture to bolster his claim. The rebels had made or obtained swords, bayonets, and bullets in preparation for the uprising when a storm hit the area. Two enslaved Blacks belonging to Mosby Sheppard betrayed Prosser's plot. Governor James Monroe declared martial law in Richmond and called up 600 members of the state militia. Prosser fled but was captured in Norfolk on September 25. He was later convicted and, with fifteen others, sentenced to hang on October 7. Another thirty-five Blacks were later executed. Although interviewed by Governor Monroe himself, Prosser refused to implicate others. The demeanor of the captured rebels led John Randolph of Virginia to declare that the accused had exhibited a spirit, which if it becomes general, must deluge the southern country in blood. They manifested a sense of their rights, and a contempt of danger.