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Archibald Henry Grimké, 1849-1930
Right on the Scaffold, or The Martyrs of 1822
Washington, D. C.: The American Negro Academy, 1901.


In "Right on the Scaffold, or The Martyrs of 1822," Archibald Grimke offers an account of the attempted Denmark Vesey slave revolt in Charleston, S.C. in 1822. Vesey was brought from Africa to Charleston as the personal servant of a slave trader, but purchased his freedom with lottery winnings when a young man. He stayed in Charleston after purchasing his freedom and became a successful carpenter and a trusted and respected member of the community.

Grimke asserts that over time, Vesey grew increasingly embittered towards the system of slavery, and white slaveholders in particular. He was literate, and spent much of his spare time reading the Bible. In it he found many parallels between the Jews of the Old Testament and African slaves in America. Vesey came to believe that the slaves were God's chosen people, and he began to plan for the day when God would seek retribution from white slaveholders for the wrongs they inflicted upon the slaves. Grimke provides a detailed and dramatic account of the events leading up to the ill-fated insurrection masterminded by Vesey, as well as its failure and the resulting trials and executions, including that of Vesey.

Brent Kinser

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