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Published by the Authority of the Corporation of Charleston.
"RESOLVED, That the intendant be requested to prepare for publication, an account of the late intended insurrection in this city, with a statement of the trials and such other facts in connexion with the same as may be deemed of publick interest."
IN complying with the objects of the above resolution, I have not been insensible to the difficulties and embarrassments necessarily incident to the subject, as to what it might be politick either to publish or suppress. With the advice, however, of the corporation, I have deemed a full publication of the prominent circumstances of the late commotion, as the most judicious course, as suppression might assume the appearance of timidity or injustice. Whilst such a statement is due to the character of our community, and justification of our laws, there can be no harm in the salutary inculcation of one lesson, among a certain portion of our population, that there is nothing they are bad enough to do, that we are not powerful enough to punish.
J. HAMILTON, JUN. Intendant.Charleston, August 16, 1822.
ON Thursday, the 30th of May last, about three o'clock in the afternoon, the intendant of Charleston was informed by a gentleman of great respectability, (who, that morning, had returned from the country,) that a favourite and confidential slave of his had communicated to him, on his arrival in town, a conversation which had taken place at the market on the Saturday preceding, between himself and a black man; which afforded strong reasons for believing that a revolt and insurrection were in contemplation among a proportion at least of our black population. The corporation was forthwith summoned to meet at 5 o'clock, for the purpose of hearing the narrative of the slave who had given this information to his master, to which meeting the attendance of his excellency was solicited; with which invitation he promptly complied. Between, however, the hours of 3 and 5 o'clock, the gentleman who had conveyed the information to the intendant, having again examined his slave, was induced to believe, that the negro fellow who had communicated the intelligence of the intended revolt to the slave in question, belonged to Messrs. J & D. Paul, Broad street, and resided in their premises. Accordingly, with a promptitude worthy of all praise, without waiting for the interposition of the civil authority, he applied to the Messrs. Pauls, and had the whole of their male servants committed to the guardhouse, until the individual who had accosted the slave of this gentleman, on the occasion previously mentioned, could be identified from among them.
On the assembly of the corporation at five, the slave of this gentleman was brought before them, having previously identified Mr. Paul's William as the man who had accosted him in the market, he then related the following circumstances.
"On Saturday afternoon last (my master being
out of town) I went to market; after finishing my
business, I strolled down the wharf below the fish-market,
from which I observed a small vessel in the
stream with a singular flag; whilst looking at this
object, a black man (Mr. Paul's William) came up to
me and remarking the subject which engaged my
attention, said, I have often seen a flag with the
number 76 on it, but never with 96, before. After
some trifling conversation on this point, he remarked
with considerable earnestness to me, Do you know
something serious is about to take place? To which
I replied, No. Well, said he, there is, and many of
us are determined to right ourselves! I asked him
to explain himself; when he remarked, why, we
are determined to shake off our bondage, and for
this purpose we stand on a good foundation, many
have joined, and if you will go with me, I will show
you the man, who has the list of names, who will
take yours down. I was so much astonished and
horrour-struck at this information, that it was a moment
or two before I could collect myself sufficiently
to tell him I would have nothing to do with this
business, that I was satisfied with my condition, that
I was grateful to my master for his kindness, and
wished no change. I left him instantly, lest, if this
fellow afterwards got into trouble, and I had been
seen conversing with him, in so publick a place, I
might be suspected and thrown into difficulty. I
did not, however, remain easy under the burden of
such a secret, and consequently determined to consult
a free man of colour, named -- and to ask
* See the Postscript on page 50.
On conferring with this friend, he urged me with great earnestness to communicate what
* See the Postscript on page 50.
had passed between Mr. Paul's man and myself to
my master, and not to lose a moment in so doing.*
* It would be a libel on the liberality and gratitude of this
community to suppose that this man can be overlooked among
those who are to be rewarded for their fidelity and principle.
I took his advice, and not waiting, even for the return of my master to town, I mentioned it to my mistress and young master. On the arrival of my master, he examined me as to what had passed, and I stated to him what I have mentioned to yourselves."
* It would be a libel on the liberality and gratitude of this community to suppose that this man can be overlooked among those who are to be rewarded for their fidelity and principle.
On this witness being dismissed from the presence of council, the prisoner (William) was examined. The mode resorted to in his examination was to afford him no intimation of the subject of the information which had been lodged against him, as it was extremely desirable in the first place, to have the testimony of the other witness corroborated as to time and place, that, from the confessions of the prisoner himself, it might appear that he was at the fish-market at the period stated, and that a singular flag, flying on board of a schooner, had formed the subject of his observation. After a vast deal of equivocation, he admitted all these facts, but when the rest of his conversation was put home to him, he flatly denied it, but with so many obvious indications of guilt, that it was deemed unwise to discharge him. He was remanded, for the night, to the guardhouse, it having been decided to subject him to solitary confinement in the black-hole of the workhouse, where, on the succeeding morning, he was to be conveyed.
On the morning of the 31st, he was again examined by the attending warden at the guardhouse, (having, during the night, made some disclosures to capt. Dove,) on which occasion he admitted all the conversation which he had held at the fish-market, with the witness before mentioned, and stated that he had received his information from Mingo Harth,
who was in possession of the muster-roll of the insurgents.
With the hope of still further disclosures, William
was conveyed to the workhouse and placed in solitary
confinement. The individuals (Mingo Harth
and Peter Poyas) against whom he gave information,
as those who had communicated to him the
intelligence of the plot for raising an insurrection,
were forthwith taken up by the wardens and their
trunks examined. These fellows behaved with so
much composure and coolness, and treated the
charge, alleged against them, with so much levity--(no writings being found in their chests, containing
the smallest suspicion, excepting an enigmatical
* The purport of this letter will be seen by reference to the
trial of Abraham Poyas.
which was then too obscure for explanation, and to which subsequent events only afforded a clue)--that the wardens (Messrs. Wesner and Condy) were completely deceived, and had these men discharged. One of these (Peter Poyas) proved afterwards, as will appear in the sequel, to be one of the principal ringleaders in the conspiracy, on whose courage and sagacity great reliance was placed.
* The purport of this letter will be seen by reference to the trial of Abraham Poyas.
Council being still under the conviction that William Paul was in possession of more information than he had thought proper to disclose, a committee was appointed to examine him from time to time, with the hope of obtaining further intelligence. Although Peter and Mingo had been discharged, yet it was deemed advisable to have them watched, and consequently spies were employed of their own colour for this purpose, in such a manner as to give advices of all their movements.
Things remained in this state for six or seven days, until about the 8th of June, when William, who had been a week in solitary confinement, and beginning
to fear that he would soon be led forth to the scaffold, for summary execution, in an interview with Mr. Napier, (one of the committee appointed to examine him,) confessed, that he had for sometime known of the plot, that it was very extensive, embracing an indiscriminate massacre of the whites, and that the blacks were to be headed by an individual, who carried about him a charm, which rendered him invulnerable. He stated, that the period fixed for the rising, was on the second Sunday in June. This information was without delay conveyed to his excellency the governour, and council forthwith convened. Whatever faith we might have been disposed to place in the unsupported and equivocal testimony of William, it was not conceived to be a case in which our doubts should influence our efforts for preparation and defence. Measures were consequently promptly taken, to place the city guard in a state of the utmost efficiency. Sixteen hundred rounds of ball cartridges were provided, and the centinels and patrols ordered on duty with loaded arms. Such had been our fancied security, that the guard had previously gone on duty without muskets, with sheathed bayonets and bludgeons.
Three or four days now elapsed, and notwithstanding all our efforts, we could obtain no confirmation of the disclosure of William, on the contrary, they seemed to have sustained some invalidation, from the circumstance of one of the individuals, (Ned Bennett,) whom he named as a person who had information in relation to the insurrection, coming voluntarily to the intendant, and soliciting an examination, if he was an object of suspicion. In this stage of the business, it was not deemed advisable prematurely to press these examinations, as it might have a tendency to arrest any further developments.
On the night, however, of Friday the 14th, the
information of William was amply confirmed, and details infinitely more abundant and interesting afforded. At 8 o'clock on this evening, the intendant received a visit from a gentleman who is advantageously known in this community for his worth and respectability.
This gentleman, with an anxiety, which the occasion was well calculated to beget, stated to the intendant, that, having the most unbounded confidence in a faithful slave belonging to his family, who was distinguished alike for his uncommon intelligence and integrity, he was induced to inform him, that rumours were abroad of an intended insurrection of the blacks, and that it was said, that this movement had been traced to some of the coloured members of Dr. Palmer's church, in which he was known to be a class leader. On being strongly enjoined to conceal nothing, he, the next day, Friday the 14th, came to his master, and informed him, that the fact was really so, that a publick disturbance was contemplated by the blacks, and not a moment should be lost in informing the constituted authorities, as the succeeding Sunday, the 16th, at 12 o'clock, at night, was the period fixed for the rising, which, if not prevented, would inevitably occur at that hour. This slave, it appears, was in no degree connected with the plot, but he had an intimate friend, A-- (one of his class) who had been trusted by the conspirators with the secret, and had been solicited by them to join their association; to this A-- first appeared to consent, but, on no period, absolutely sent in his adhesion. According to the statement which he afterwards made himself to the court, it would seem that it was a subject of great regret and contrition with him, that he had ever appeared to lend his approbation to a scheme so wicked and atrocious, and that he sought occasion to make atonement, by divulging the plot, which on the 14th he
did, to the slave of the gentleman in question, his class leader.*
* Most of the black religious communities in this place are divided into classes, over which a leader is placed, having the confidence of the pastor of the church.
This gentleman, therefore, mentioned, that his
servant had informed him, that A-- *
* This witness gave the information under a pledge, that his
name should not be divulged.
had stated, that about three months ago, Rolla, belonging to governour Bennett, had communicated to him the intelligence of the intended insurrection, and had asked him to join--"That he remarked, in the event of their rising, they would not be without help, as the people from San Domingo and Africa would assist them in obtaining their liberty, if they only made the motion first themselves. That if A-- wished to know more, he had better attend their meetings, where all would be disclosed." After this, at another interview, Rolla informed A--, that "the plan was matured, and that on Sunday night, the 16th June, a force would cross from James's Island and land on South Bay, march up and seize the arsenal and guardhouse, that another body at the same time would seize the arsenal on the neck, and a third would rendezvous in the vicinity of his master's mills. They would then sweep the town with fire and sword, not permitting a single white soul to escape."
* This witness gave the information under a pledge, that his name should not be divulged.
As this account was remarkably coincident with the one given by William, (Mr. Paul's slave,) as the witnesses could have had no possible communication, or the story have been the result of preconcert and combination, the sum of this intelligence was laid before the governour by 9 o'clock, and by 10 o'clock the commanding officers of the regiments of the city militia convened by his excellency's order, at the residence of the intendant. On this and the
succeeding afternoon, at another meeting of the same individuals, such measures were determined on by his excellency, as were deemed best adapted to the approaching exigency of Sunday night.
On Sunday, the 16th, at 10 o'clock at night, the following corps were ordered to rendezvous for guard.
Capt. Cattel's corps of hussars, Capt. Miller's light infantry, Capt. Martindale's neck rangers, Charleston riflemen, city guard.
The whole were organized as a detachment, and placed under the command of col. R. Y. Hayne. Although there was necessarily great excitement, and among the female part of our community much alarm, yet the night passed off without any thing like commotion or disturbance, and it is peculiarly honourable to the corps on service, that in a populous town, the streets filled until a late hour with persons, uncertain whether it was safe to go to rest or not, not a single case of false alarm was excited. A steadiness, altogether praiseworthy, in troops unaccustomed to guard duty, at least on an occasion involving such deep interest and distressing anxiety.
The conspirators finding the whole town encompassed at 10 o'clock, by the most vigilant patrols, did not dare to show themselves, whatever might have been their plans. In the progress of the subsequent investigation, it was distinctly in proof, that but for these military demonstrations, the effort would unquestionably have been made; that a meeting took place on Sunday afternoon, the 16th, at 4 o'clock, of several of the ringleaders, at Denmark Vesey's, for the purpose of making their preliminary arrangements, and that early in the morning of Sunday, Denmark despatched a courier, to order down some country negroes from Goose Creek, which courier had endeavoured in vain to get out of town.
No development of the plot having been made on Sunday night, and the period having passed,
which was fixed on for its explosion, it now became the duty of the civil authority to take immediate steps for the apprehension, commitment, and trial of those against whom they were in possession of information. Council was accordingly convened, and as a preliminary measure, it was deemed expedient, that a court of the highest respectability, for the talents and integrity of its members, should be assembled, and that, whilst the requisitions of the act of assembly, of 1740, should be strictly complied with, in devolving the warrant of summons on the magistrates; the corporation saw no impropriety in affording these officers a list of such names of freeholders, as they knew would meet in a preeminent degree the publick approbation; and to these persons private letters were written by the authority of council, strongly soliciting the their acceptance of a trust, involving indeed the most irksome labour, as well as the deepest responsibility. In conformity with these arrangements, the following court was organized on the evening of the 17th.
Contemporaneously with the organization of this court, a committee of vigilance and safety was appointed from among the members of council, to aid the intendant in the execution of the laws; to cooperate with him during the recess of council, in all those measures necessary for exploring the causes and character of the existing disturbance, and bringing to light and punishment the suspected and guilty. How ably these functions were discharged by this committee, it is not befitting the occasion, or the circumstances under which this publication appears,
to dwell. Their generous devotion and unremitting assiduity to the publick interests and safety, are left to more appropriate appreciation of a community that witnessed their labours. This committee consisted of Messrs. Wesner, Napier, Condy, Burger, and Simmons, and were zealously aided by the rest of the wardens; and for its service, four of the most active, intelligent, and confidential non-commissioned officers of the city guard, were detached as police officers, to search suspected places, and to apprehend those for whom warrants might be issued. This committee commenced its labours on the night of the 17th, and during the ensuing twenty-four hours, the following slaves were committed: Rolla, Batteau, Matthias, and Ned, the property of the governour Bennett; Mungo and Peter, the property of James Poyas; Amhurst, the property of Mrs. Lining; Stephen, the property of T. R. Smith; Richard and John, the property of Jonathan Lucas.
On the morning of the 19th of June, the court of magistrates and freeholders assembled at the court-house, were sworn in, and proceeded to the arraignment of the above prisoners for trial; who were charged "with attempting to raise an insurrection among the blacks against the whites." In order that the publick may understand the offence as defined in the act of 1740, the clause, at length, will be found in the appendix, marked (A.)
Before we proceed to a brief (and it necessarily must be very brief) abstract of the testimony offered in the cases brought before the court, it may not be unimportant to observe, that, previous to their proceeding to the painful investigation with which they were charged, they laid down a variety of rules for their government, all of them subservient to justice as well as humanity. In the first place, it was decided that the testimony should be regulated by those established rules of evidence,
which are elsewhere found so important in the exposition of truth; that no slave should be tried but in the presence of his master or his attorney; that the testimony of one witness, unsupported by circumstances, should lead to no conviction involving capital punishment; and that the statement of the party himself should be heard in explanation of such particulars as seemed most inculpatory.
Being thus organized, they proceeded to the trial of ROLLA, the slave of governour Bennett.
JACOB AXON, Esq. attending as attorney of his master.
It was proved, that Rolla had confessed to two persons, both of whom were examined by the court, that he belonged to the conspiracy, and with one of these witnesses (his friend) he used every effort to induce him to join in the insurrection, which Rolla stated was to take place on the night of the 16th of June. Finding that this friend (the witness in question) would not join the association, he urged him to go out of town on Sunday night, lest some harm should come to him. Rolla represented himself as the commander of the force which was to rendezvous in the vicinity of his master's mills, & explained to the witness fully the order of attack; the division of the forces; and said, "that his troops, in their way into town, would fix his old buck (his master) and the intendant." On being asked whether it was intended to kill the women and children, he remarked when we have done with the men we know what to do with the women. On this testimony Rolla was found guilty, and sentenced to be executed on the 2d of July.*
* The following note appears on the journals of the court, in relation to the trial of Rolla: "Five witnesses were introduced and examined in behalf of Rolla, but, so far from impeaching the credibility of the witnesses against him, they rather supported it."
BATTEAU was next tried.
It was proved that Batteau confessed to two persons, (both of whom were introduced as witnesses,) that he belonged to the conspiracy, and made efforts to induce them to join in the rising, by representing the extent of their preparations, and the probability of their success. He stated he was to head a party near Canon's bridge, and that he expected aid from the country. More than one interview took place between Batteau and the witnesses on the subject; the last, on the Sunday fixed for the insurrection, on which he renewed his solicitations that the witnesses should join him. Batteau was found guilty, and sentenced to be executed on the 2d of July.
STEPHEN, belonging to Thos. R. Smith, Esq.,
Was next brought before the court, but the testimony being deemed insufficient, and indeed the court being satisfied of his innocence, directed his discharge.
PETER, the slave of Mr. James Poyas, was next tried.
It was distinctly in proof, against Peter, that he had made great efforts to induce others to join in the insurrection; and the testimony represented him quite in the character of a chieftain or leader, for which his boldness and sagacity unquestionably qualified him. He appeared, from the testimony, to have employed uncommon pains to remove all the objections arising in the minds of those whom he attempted to enlist, as to the probability of the success of the effort. And spoke with great confidence of the succours which were expected from San Domingo. It was strongly to be inferred, from all the witnesses stated, that the difficult and dangerous sally of endeavouring to carry the main guardhouse
was to have been confided to him, for he particularly acquainted one of the witnesses with the combination of stratagem and force with which he proposed to accomplish this object.
Peter was found guilty on this testimony, and sentenced for execution on the 2d of July.*
* After the execution of Peter, his guilt, in the most flagrant degree, became most abundantly established; affording, in every particular, the strongest corroboration of the testimony by which he had been convicted. It was apparent that he was the most efficient of all the ringleaders, and one who possessed the largest share of the confidence of Denmark Vesey, who was, in every sense of the term, the father of the plot. Peter was a slave of great value, and, for his colour, a first rate ship-carpenter. He had the confidence of his master in a remarkable degree, and had been treated with indulgence, liberality and kindness.
AMHERST, belonging to Mrs. Lining, was next examined, found not guilty, and discharged.
The court then proceeded to the trial of NED, the property of governour Bennett.
Ned's guilt was proved fully by the same witnesses that appeared against Peter Poyas, with whom it was established he was in the habit of frequent consultation on the efforts that were to be made. Subsequent disclosures have justified very strongly the finding of the court against him, and placed it beyond a doubt, that he was a ringleader, and was to have headed a force in the vicinity of the lines.
He was found guilty, and sentenced for execution on the 2d of July
On the 24th of June, the court discharged, as not guilty, Samuel Guifford and Robert Hadden, two free persons of colour, as also Matthias, the slave of governour Bennett; Mungo, the slave of Mr. Poyas; Robert, the slave of Mr. Harth, and Richard and John, the slaves of Mr. Lucas.
On the 25th of June, the court examined the cases of Jim, belonging to Mr. Ancrum; Sandy, belonging to Mr. Holmes, and Friday, the property of Mr. Rout, all of whom were found not guilty and discharged.
On Wednesday, the 26th of June, the court proceeded to the trial of ABRAHAM, the slave of Dr. Poyas.
The only proof adduced against Abraham, was the following letter, found in the trunk of Peter Poyas, and acknowledged by Abraham to have been written by himself.
"DEAR SIR,--With pleasure I give you an answer. I will endeavour to do it. Hoping that God will be in the midst to help his own. Be particular and make a sure remark. Fear not, the Lord God that delivered Daniel is able to deliver us. All that I inform agreed. I am gone up to Beach Hill."
Although this letter was extremely suspicious, yet, there being no other testimony against Abraham, he was found not guilty of the charge "of attempting to raise an insurrection among the blacks against the whites."
On Thursday, the 27th, DENMARK VESEY, a free black man, was brought before the court for trial,
Assisted by his counsel, G. W. CROSS, Esq.
It is perhaps somewhat remarkable, that at this stage of the investigation, although several witnesses had been examined, the atrocious guilt of Denmark Vesey had not been as yet fully unfolded. From the testimony of most of the witnesses, however, the court found enough, and amply enough, to warrant the sentence of death, which, on the 28th, they passed on him. But every subsequent step in the progress of the trials of others, lent new confirmation to his overwhelming guilt, and placed him
beyond a doubt, on the criminal eminence of having been the individual, in whose bosom the nefarious scheme was first engendered. There is ample reason for believing, that this project was not, with him, of recent origin, for it was said, he had spoken of it for upwards of four years.
These facts of his guilt the journals of the court will disclose--that no man can be proved to have spoken of or urged the insurrection prior to himself. All the channels of communication and intelligence are traced back to him. His house was the place appointed for the secret meetings of the conspirators, at which he was invariably a leading and influential member; animating and encouraging the timid, by the hopes and prospects of success; removing the scruples of the religious, by the grossest prostitution and perversion of the sacred oracles, and inflaming and confirming the resolute, by all the savage fascinations of blood and booty.
The peculiar circumstances of guilt, which confer a distinction on his case, will be found narrated in the confession of Rolla, Monday Gell, Frank, and Jesse, in the appendix. He was sentenced for execution on the 2d July.*
* As Denmark Vesey has occupied so large a place in the conspiracy, a brief notice of him will, perhaps, be not devoid of interest. The following anecdote will show how near he was to the chance of being distinguished in the bloody events of San Domingo. During the revolutionary war, captain Vesey, now an old resident of this city, commanded a ship that traded between St. Thomas' and Cape François (San Domingo.) He was engaged in supplying the French of that island with slaves. In the year 1781, he took on board, at St. Thomas's, 390 slaves and sailed for the Cape; on the passage, he and his officers were struck with the beauty, alertness, and intelligence, of a boy about 14 years of age, whom they made a pet of, by taking him into the cabin, changing his apparel, and calling him, by way of distinction, Telemaque, (which appellation has since, by gradual corruption, among the negroes, been changed to Denmark, or sometimes Telmak.) On the arrival, however, of the ship at the Cape, captain Vesey, having no use for the boy, sold him among his other slaves, and returned to St. Thomas's. On his next voyage to the Cape, he was surprised to learn from his consignee that Telemaque would be returned on his hands, as the planter, who had purchased him, represented him unsound, and subject to epileptick fits. According to the custom of trade in that place, the boy was placed in the hands of the king's physician, who decided that he was unsound, and captain Vesey was compelled to take him back, of which he had no occasion to repent, as Denmark proved, for 20 years, a most faithful slave. In 1800, Denmark drew a prize of $1500 in the East Bay street lottery, with which he purchased his freedom from his master, at six hundred dollars, much less than his real value. From that period to the day of his apprehension, he has been working as a carpenter in this city, distinguished for great strength and activity. Among his colour he was always looked up to with awe and respect. His temper was impetuous and domineering in the extreme, qualifying him for the despotick rule, of which he was ambitious. All his passions were ungovernable and savage; and to his numerous wives and children, he displayed the haughty and capricious cruelty of an eastern bashaw. He had nearly effected his escape, after information had been lodged against him. For three days the town was searched for him without success. As early as Monday, the 17th, he had concealed himself. It was not until the night of the 22d of June, during a perfect tempest, that he was found secreted in the house of one of his wives. It is to the uncommon efforts and vigilance of Mr. Wesner, and capt. Dove, of the city guard, (the latter of whom seized him) that publick justice received its necessary tribute, in the execution of this man. If the party had been one moment later, he would, in all probability, have effected his escape the next day in some outward bound vessel.
the court tried JESSE, the slave of Mr. Thomas Blackwood.
The testimony against Jesse was very ample. His activity and zeal, in promoting the views of Denmark Vesey, in relation to the plot, were fully proved. He had engaged with Vesey to go out of town on Sunday the 16th, to bring down some negroes from the country, to aid in the rising on that night; and remarked, to the witnesses, on his way to Hibbens' ferry, "if my father does not assist I will cut off his head." All the particulars in proof against him, he confirmed after receiving his sentence, by his own full and satisfactory confession, which will be found in the appendix, marked (H.)
This man excited no small sympathy, not only from the apparent sincerity of his contrition, but from the mild and the most unostentatious composure with which he met his fate.
Sentence of death was passed on these six men, on the 28th of June, and they were executed on the 2d of July. With the exception of Jesse and Rolla, they made no disclosures; all of them, with those exceptions, either explicitly or implicitly affirming their innocence. It is much to be lamented that the situation of the workhouse, at this period, precluded, after their sentence, their being separately confined; at least, that Vesey could not have been subjected to the gloom and silence of a solitary cell. He might have been softened, and afforded the most precious confessions, as his knowledge and agency in the nefarious scheme very far exceeded the information of others, who, however guilty, seemed but the agents of his will. But these men mutually supported each other, and died obedient to the stern and emphatick injunction of their comrade, (Peter Poyas,) "Do not open your lips! Die silent, as you shall see me do!" It was, perhaps, alone, in Denmark Vesey's power, to have given us the true character, extent and importance of the correspondence, it was afterwards proved was carried on with certain persons in San Domingo.
On the 1st of July, the court proceeded to the trial of MONDAY GELL, who, together with CHARLES DRAYTON, had been apprehended; the first, on the 27th of June, and the latter, on the 2d of July.
By referring to the appendix (D.) and (E.) the nature of the testimony against these individuals will be seen. In reference to the case of Monday Gell it was established that he had been a very important ringleader, and that his shop, in Meeting
street, was a place at which many meetings were held; at all of which he was present, lending the most zealous aid, and affording the strongest countenance; and if any confirmation of his guilt should be sought for, it may be found in his own confession in the appendix (K.) After Monday Gell and Charles Drayton were convicted, there appeared to be a pause in our further discoveries, and some prospect of the investigation closing with their execution and that of John Horry, Harry Haig, and Gullah Jack. For the guilt of the latter, see appendix (D.) (E.) and (F.)
On the 9th of July, however, these five men were called before the court to receive sentence, and after it had been pronounced, with the most impressive solemnity, they were withdrawn to a common ward in the workhouse, for half an hour, until separate cells could be provided for them. It was at this moment that Charles Drayton, overwhelmed with terrour and guilt, went up to Monday and reproached him with having induced him to join in a scheme which had placed him in such a miserable and perilous situation. To his appeal, Monday not only confessed his guilt, but observed to Charles--that their present fate was justly and precisely what they had a right to expect, after their detected and defeated project. On which there immediately ensued between them a conversation on the extent of the guilt of others, in which Monday gave Charles the names of many accomplices whom he had not previously known in the plot;--the arrival of the blacksmith to iron the convicts, and the turn-key to convey them to separate cells, interrupted the conversation.
Charles, during the night of the 9th, sent for Mr. Gordon, who has charge of the workhouse, and informed him that he was extremely anxious to see the intendant, as he had some important disclosures
to make. By day-light, on the morning of the 10th, this message was conveyed to the person for whom it was intended, and Charles was visited at sunrise. He was found, in a state of the most lamentable depression and panick, and he seemed prepared to make the most ample declarations from the fear of death, and the consequences of an hereafter, if he went out of the world without revealing all that he knew, in relation to the conspiracy, in which he had been so active an agent. Before his narrative was received, he was most specially put on his guard, that no promises could be made to him of a reversal of his fate, but that he might rest satisfied, his condition could not be worse by his coming out with a full disclosure of all that he knew. He then stated many particulars, that had come to his own knowledge, proving a much wider diffusion of the plot than, at that period, was imagined; and, after giving up the names of several of his comrades, he mentioned the conversation which had been commenced and broken off, in the common ward of the workhouse, between Monday Gell and himself. As Monday, at this period, did not seem disposed to make any confessions to others, whatever he might be inclined to do to his friend Charles, it was considered important, that the conversation between them should be renewed, and they were brought together in the same cell, and left for twenty-four hours alone; but some little stratagem was employed, to divert the suspicions of Monday, that Charles was confined with him, merely for the purpose of getting information out of him.
On the morning of the 10th, the court were convened, and apprized, generally, of these new disclosures, which Charles had made, but as he was still closeted with Monday, he could not be examined on that day, the court adjourned to meet on the 13th; on which day Monday Gell's own confession was heard by them. Between the 10th and 13th, Charles
and Monday were separated (having been respited by his excellency, the governour, at the request of the court) and Charles, on his re-examination afforded much important information, which he had derived from Monday. On Monday's having all this brought to his view, he confessed his own guilt, as well as the truth of the statements which he made to Charles.*
* Monday Gell is very well known in this city. He is a most excellent harness-maker, and kept his shop in Meeting street. It would be difficult to name any individual more actively engaged in the plot than himself, or more able to aid Denmark Vesey, from his uncommon sagacity and knowledge. He reads and writes with great and equal facility, and obviously seems to have been the individual who held the pen at all the meetings; at which he wrote more than one letter to San Domingo, for succours. His own situation afforded no excuse for the effort in which he was engaged as he enjoyed all the substantial comforts of a freeman; much indulged and trusted by his master, his time and a large proportion of the profits of his labour were at his own disposal. He even kept his master's arms and sometimes his money. Monday is an Ebo, and is now in the prime of life, having been in the country 15 or 20 years.
Contemporaneously with these communications, PERAULT, belonging to Mr. Strohecker, was taken up, on the 10th, and on his being closely and judiciously examined by his master, he gave a large mass of intelligence, confirming what had been related by Monday and Charles, and supplying several deficiences in their testimony, more especially that part of it which related to the transmission of certain letters to San Domingo. These disclosures, with some further details which were obtained from Harry Haig, (whose confession and subsequent testimony went to implicate a corps of Gullah or or Angola negroes, that had been organized under the command of their chief, Gullah Jack,) gave ample employment for three or four days to the committee of vigilance, during which, upwards of sixty slaves were apprehended.
It would very much transcend the limits necessarily
prescribed to this brief memoir, to go over all the trials that subsequently ensued, on these fresh discoveries. As the most important part of the testimony, adduced on these trials, is to be found in the appendix, it is deemed altogether superfluous, to make a special application of it to each of the cases, as this would result in a repetition fatiguing and uninteresting to the reader. It will be sufficient to single out a few of the cases most pregnant in interest, and to remark, that the court, on its re-organization on the 13th, justly estimating the extent of the labour before them, laid down certain rules of discrimination in the guilt of the parties to which they give the most definite precision and perspicuity, by adopting two classes of offence; the first involving a primary, and the second a minor degree of guilt. Under the first class, they brought all those who were ringleaders, who had made a declaration of their belonging to the association, and who had been present, aiding and abetting in the contribution of money, arms, or ammunition, at Denmark Vesey's, or who were in the constant habit of visiting Monday Gell's shop and Bulkley's farm, for the purpose of obtaining and communicating intelligence of the progress of the conspiracy. Those found guilty in this class, were to be punished with death. Under the second class were arranged those who had merely sent in their adhesion to the ringleaders without ever having attended a meeting at Vesey's, or having been recognised by him as confidential men, or contributed to the purchase of arms or ammunition, or endeavoured to enlist others. The punishment which awaited those found guilty in this class, was transportation beyond the limits of the United States.*
*At the meeting of the court on the morning of the 13th, Mr. James Legare, from feeble health and great exhaustion, during its previous sittings, asked, and obtained leave, to withdraw, whereupon Mr. Henry Deas was summoned by the magistrates, who took his seat and served until the adjournment of the court.
By reference to the calendar marked (S.) in the appendix, the names of the prisoners committed will be found, and under a proper column, the mode in which they were disposed of, whether by death, transportation, or discharge, from the insufficiency of testimony. The extent of the evidence adduced, therefore, against each individual, may be inferred with accuracy, by observing the punishment awarded him; as the court adhered with great and rigid fidelity to these rules, which were in unison both with justice and humanity.
Among the vast number of cases disposed of by the first court, in a session of nearly six weeks, involving the most intense and unremitting labour, it would be impossible to overlook the case of Jack Pritchard otherwise called GULLAH JACK. The testimony in the appendix, of more than one of the witnesses, will establish fully his guilt, and prove the justice of the sentence, by which he was ushered into another world; but no description can accurately convey to others the impression which his trial, defence, and appearance made on those who witnessed the workings of his cunning and rude address. Born a conjurer and a physician, in his own country, (for in Angola they are matters of inheritance,) he practised these arts in this country for fifteen years, without its being generally known among the whites. Vesey, who left no engines of power unessayed, seems, in an early stage of his design, to have turned his eye on this necromancer, aware of his influence with his own countrymen, who are distinguished both for their credulous superstition and clannish sympathies. It does not appear that Jack required much persuasion to induce him to join in a project, which afforded him the most ample opportunities of displaying his peculiar art, whilst it is very obvious that his willingness, to do all that Vesey might require, was in no little degree stimulated, by his bitterness and his gall against
the whites. Although he had been fifteen or twenty years in this country, yet he appeared to be untouched by the influences of civilized life. If the part which he was to play in this drama, bespoke that the treacherous and vindictive artifices of war in his own country, existed in unimpaired vigour in his memory, his wildness and vehemence of gesture and the malignant glance with which he eyed the witnesses who appeared against him, all indicated the savage, who indeed had been caught, but not tamed. It would be both tedious and disgusting to relate the many artifices employed by this miscreant to deceive and cajole his deluded countrymen. Such was their belief in his invulnerability, that his charms and amulets were in request, and he was regarded as a man, who could only be harmed but by the treachery of his fellows. Even those negroes who were born in this country seem to have spoken of his charmed invincibility with a confidence which looked much like belief. When Jack was dragged forth to the scaffold, he seemed conscious that his arts would stand him in little stead, and gave up his spirit without firmness or composure.
The case of TOM RUSSEL, another of the Gullah
band, deserves a brief notice. He was tried some
days after Jack, and was executed among the twenty-two
criminals hung on the lines, on the 26th July.
Tom was Jack's armourer, and kept his blacksmith's
shop on East Bay. His part in the conspiracy was
confined to making of pikes and spears, which it appears
he did on a very improved model. After
these weapons were finished, they were held subject
to the order of Jack, and by him sent up to
Mr. Bulkley's farm,*
* This farm was under the charge of a slave named Billy, who
became a witness for the state, and gave some important details
of the meetings of the Gullahs; several of whom were executed
on the 26th.
near the cross roads, where
* This farm was under the charge of a slave named Billy, who became a witness for the state, and gave some important details of the meetings of the Gullahs; several of whom were executed on the 26th.
handles were provided for them by Polydore Faber a Gullah, who met his fate on the same scaffold with Tom Russel. This farm was one of the principal rendezvous of the Gullah band, of which Jack was the captain.
The trial of LOT FORRESTER was not without interest, as he was the courier of the conspiracy, and was proved to have gone out of town, for the purpose of inducing the country negroes to join in the insurrection; his journeys were both south and north of Charleston. His zeal and perseverance in the cause were strongly proved, and there is every reason for believing that the conflagration of the city was confided, by Vesey, to him. Match-rope was found in a situation where he had probably secreted it. He was hung on the lines on the 26th of July.
BACCHUS HAMMETT, who was hung, also, on the 26th, did render, and was to have rendered on the night of the 16th, the most essential aid. Before the latter period he had stolen from his master's store a keg of powder, which was conveyed, first to Vesey's, afterwards to Monday Gell's, and lastly to Gullah Jack, to be prepared into cartridges. On the night of the 16th, he was to have slept where the arms of the neck-rangers were deposited, and facilitated their seizure and distribution among Gullah Jack's corps, who were to have carried this post, as well as Mr. Duquercron's store, in which there were 500 stands of arms, deposited for sale.
The cases of JACK GLEN, BILLY PALMER, and JACK PURCELL, are distinguished, not by any peculiar atrocity, but for the hypocrisy they blended with their crime. Their assent to the plot was distinctly shown, and it was in proof, that Vesey had recognised them all as his men. Jack
Glen was a preacher. Billy Palmer, exceedingly
pious, and a communicant at the church of his master;
and Jack Purcell no less devout. The case of
the latter was not without its pathos, from the
deep contrition he expressed before his execution;
the distressing interest which his mistress is said to
have taken in his fate, and the lamentable delusion
under which he laboured, which is more particularly
unfolded in his confession, in the appendix
* This confession of Purcell's will show, that the evil foretold,
from the discussion of the Missouri question, has been in some
Jack Glen and Purcell were hung on the lines. Billy Palmer has been respited, by his excellency the governour, until October next, for a commutation of his punishment to banishment beyond the limits of the United States.
* This confession of Purcell's will show, that the evil foretold, from the discussion of the Missouri question, has been in some degree, realized.
The court having used the testimony of Monday Gell, Charles Drayton, and Harry Haig, very efficaciously, to the ends of publick justice, reconsidered the sentences, which had been passed on them, and instead of death, sentenced them to transportation beyond the limits of the United States.
As a matter of form, Perault, John Enslow, and Billy Bulkley, (who had become witnesses for the state,) were then tried on their own confessions, and sentenced to be transported beyond the limits of the United States. These individuals were important witnesses in all the apprehensions and trials subsequent to the 13th of July.
Perault gave his testimony with great fearlessness and candour, and Enslow with much composure and connexion; the evidence of both, as well indeed as that of most of the witnesses, was much appreciated by the court, after a severe scrutiny.*
* See Enslow's confession, appendix (M.)
This court, having disposed of all the cases before them, adjourned on the 26th of July.
At this stage of our investigation we were satisfied that of all the ringleaders in the conspiracy, William Garner, (who had effected his escape from the city about the 1st of July,) only, remained to be punished. As information had been received of his having travelled towards Columbia, a proclamation was issued by his excellency the governour, for his apprehension, in promotion of the success of which some subsidiary steps were taken by private means. On the 2d of August, our wishes, relating to Garner, were gratified, by his arrival in town. He had previously been arrested at Columbia, through the publick spirited efforts of the intendant of that place and lieut. Maxcy, who overtook and apprehended him at Granby.
On Garner's arrival, a new court was organized for his trial, and such other cases as might be brought before them, by precisely the same means as those which had been employed on the appointment of the first; and the services of the following gentlemen secured, who were known to possess, deservedly, a large share of the publick confidence.
This court adopted the same rules for their government which had been so humanely and dispassionately adopted by the preceding court, but, as enough had been done for publick example, they determined to visit capital punishment on none but ringleaders. The first case they tried was that of WILLIAM GARNER.
Garner's guilt had all the characteristicks, which the court had assigned to the first class of turpitude;
it was not only proved that he was actively engaged in recruiting others, but that he was to have led a troop of horse, at the rising, composed of all such of the conspirators as might have appeared in the streets on horseback. And further, that he had made an offer of a command to others in his corps. Four witnesses having sworn positively to his guilt, detailing a variety of particulars, mutually corroborating and supporting each other, he was found guilty and sentenced for execution on the 9th of August, at which period the sentence was carried into effect. This court having, after a short adjournment of three or four days, recommenced their session, disposed of twelve cases more, involving a minor degree of guilt, and adjourned finally on the 8th of August.
These trials, together with some private arrangments, made with their owners, in reference to the banishment of several slaves, in cases where their guilt was clear, but not of the first degree, have at length closed the anxious and irksome labours of the corporation, after an examination of little less than two months.
It will be seen, by referring to the calendar marked (S.) that one hundred and thirty-one were committed; thirty-five have suffered death, and thirty-seven have been sentenced to banishment. The most important object to be obtained in uprooting a conspiracy, we have fully accomplished, by bringing to punishment the whole of the ringleaders. Monday Gell, whose knowledge of the plot was, probably, exceeded only by Vesey's, has emphatically stated, that the ringleaders were the first six, who were executed on the 2d of July, to wit: Denmark Vesey, Peter Poyas, Ned Bennett, Rolla, Batteau, and Jesse; to which he has since added himself and William Garner, who was executed on the 9th of August.
We moreover believe that all, who were active agents (though not ringleaders) in the conspiracy, have expiated their crimes, or are about to do so, by an eternal exile from our shores. It may be mentioned, in confirmation of this belief, that Monday Gell, from memory, made out a list of forty-two names, of those who were in the habit of visiting his shop, for the purpose of combining and confederating in the intended insurrection, whom he called his company; every one of whom have been apprehended, and disposed of. We cannot venture to say, to how many the knowledge of the intended effort was communicated, who, without signifying their assent, or attending any of the meetings, were yet prepared to profit by events. That there are many who would not have permitted the enterprise to have failed at a critical moment, for the want of their co-operation, we have the best reasons for believing.
Before we conclude, some notice of the probable causes of this conspiracy may be expected. As this is a matter of speculation, we shall not speak without reserve. Of the motives of Vesey, we cannot set in judgment; they have been scanned by a power who can do higher justice than ourselves. But, as they are explained by his character and conduct during the combinations of the plot, they are only to be referred to a malignant hatred of the whites, and inordinate lust of power and booty. Indeed, the belief is altogether justifiable, that his end would have been answered, if, after laying our city in ashes, and moistening its cinders with blood, he could have embarked with a part of the pillage of our banks for San Domingo; leaving a large proportion of his deluded followers to the exterminating desolation of that justice, which would have awaited, in the end, a transient success. His followers were slaves, and for them it would not be so difficult to assign a motive, if it had not
been distinctly proved, that, without scarcely an exception, they had no individual hardship to complain of, and were among the most humanely treated negroes in our city. The facilities for combining and confederating in such a scheme, were amply afforded, by the extreme indulgence and kindness, which characterizes the domestick treatment of our slaves. Many slave owners among us, not satisfied with ministering to the wants of their domesticks, by all the comforts of abundant food, and excellent clothing, with a misguided benevolence, have not only permitted their instruction, but lent to such efforts their approbation and applause.
Religious fanaticism has not been without its effect
on this project, and as auxiliary to these sentiments,
the secession of a large body of blacks from
the white methodist church, with feelings of irritation
and disappointment, formed a hot bed, in which
the germ might well be expected to spring into
life and vigour. Among the conspirators, a majority
of them belonged to the African church,*
* An appellation the seceders assumed after their leaving the
white methodist church.
and among those executed were several who had been class leaders. It is, however, due to the late head of their church (for since the late events the association has been voluntarily dissolved) and their deacons, to say, that, after the most diligent search and scrutiny, no evidence entitled to belief, has been discovered against them. A hearsay rumour, in relation to Morris Brown, was traced far enough to end in its complete falsification.
* An appellation the seceders assumed after their leaving the white methodist church.
That the course which certain discussions assumed in congress were likewise efficacious in producing both discontent and delusion, is sufficiently apparent. Jack Purcell's confession in the appendix, will show to what a purpose Vesey applied those beautiful propositions of civil and natural freedom,
which were sported with a wanton recklessness of their consequences, as applied to the condition of a certain portion of our common country.
It is consoling to every individual, who is proud of the character of his country, in the late unhappy events, to be able to say, that, within the limits of the city of Charleston, in a period of great and unprecedented excitement, the laws, without even one violation, have ruled with uninterrupted sway; that no cruel, vindictive, or barbarous modes of punishment have been resorted to; that justice has been blended with an enlightened humanity, in according, to those who had meted out for us murder, rapine, and conflagration, in their most savage forms, trials which, for the wisdom, impartiality, and moderation that governed them, are even superiour to those which the ordinary modes of judicature would have afforded ourselves.
With little to fear, and nothing to reproach ourselves, we may, without shrinking, submit our conduct to the award of posterity, and ourselves to the protection of the supreme Ruler of events.
"Every slave who shall raise, or attempt to raise an insurrection, in this province, or shall endeavour to delude or entice any slave to run away and leave the province, every such slave and slaves, and his and their accomplices, aiders and abetters, shall, on conviction thereof, as aforesaid, suffer death. Provided always, that it shall and may be lawful, to and for the justices who shall pronounce sentence against such slaves, by and with the advice and consent of the freeholders as aforesaid, if several slaves shall receive sentence at one time, to mitigate and alter the sentence of any slave, other than such as shall be convicted of homicide of a white person, who they shall think may deserve mercy, and may inflict such corporal punishment (other than death) on any such slave, as they in discretion shall think fit, anything herein contained to the contrary thereof, in any wise notwithstanding. Provided, that one or more of the said slaves who shall be convicted of the crimes or offence aforesaid, where several are concerned, shall be executed for example, to deter others from offending in the like kind. A. A. 1740. P. L. 167.
A negro man testified as follows:*
* Against this witness, the court had not a little of testimony; he consented
without hesitation to become a witness, and to give all the information
he possessed; a pledge having been previously given him by the court,
that he should not be prosecuted, nor his name revealed.
I know Peter, he belongs to Mr. James Poyas; in May last, Peter and myself met in Legare street, at the corner of Lambol street, where the following conversation took place--he asked me the news--I replied, none that I know of--he said, by George! we can't live so. I replied, how will we do? He said, we can do very well, if you can find any one to assist us--will you join? I asked him, how do you mean? He said, why! to break the yoke. I replied, I don't know. He asked me, suppose you were to hear, that the whites were going to kill you, would you defend yourself? I replied, I'd try to escape. He asked, have you lately seen Denmark Vesey, and has he spoken to you particularly. I said no. Well then, said he, that's all now; but call at the shop to-morrow after knocking off work, and I will tell you more! We then parted. I met him the next day, according to appointment,
* Against this witness, the court had not a little of testimony; he consented without hesitation to become a witness, and to give all the information he possessed; a pledge having been previously given him by the court, that he should not be prosecuted, nor his name revealed.
when he said to me, we intend to see, if we can't do something for ourselves, we can't live so. I asked him, where he would get men? He said, we'll find them fast enough, we have got enough, we expect men from country and town. But how, said I, will you manage it. Why, we will give them notice, said he, and they will march down and camp round the city. But what, said I, will they do for arms. He answered, they will find arms enough, they all bring down their hoes, axes, &c. I said, that won't do to fight with here. He said, stop! let us get candidates from town with arms, and we will then take the guardhouse and arsenal in town, the arsenal on the neck and the upper guardhouse, and supply the country people with arms. How, said I, will you approach those arsenals, &c. for they are guarded? Yes, said he, I know that, but what are these guards, one man here, and one man there, we let a man pass before us. Well, said I, but how will the black people from the country, and those from the islands, know when you are to begin, or how will you get the town people together. Why, said he, we will have prayer meetings at night, and there notify them when to start, and when the clock strikes twelve, all must move. But, said I, the whites in the back country, Virginia, &c. when they hear the news, will turn to, and kill you all, and besides, you may be betrayed. Well, said he, what of that, if one gets hanged, we will rise at that minute. We then left his shop, and walked towards Broad street, when he said, I want you to take notice of all the shops and stores in town with arms in them, take down their numbers, and give them to me. I said, I will see to it, and then we parted.
About the first of June, I saw in the publick papers a statement that the white people were going to build missionary houses for the blacks, which I carried and showed to Peter, and said, see the good they are going to do for us; when he said, what of that? Have you not heard, that on the 4th of July, the whites are going to create a false alarm of fire, and every black that comes out will be killed, in order to thin them? Do you think they would be so barbarous? (said I.) Yes! (said he) I do!--I fear they have a knowledge of an army from San Domingo, and they would be right to do it; to prevent us joining that army, if it should march towards this land! I was then very much alarmed. We then parted, and I saw no more of him till the guards were very strict, (about a fortnight ago.) At that time I saw Peter and Ned Bennett standing and talking together, at the corner of Lambol and Legare streets. They crossed over and met me by Mrs. Myles's, and Ned Bennett said to me, did you hear what those boys were taken up for the other day? I replied, no! but some say it was for stealing. Ned asked me if I was sure I had never said any thing to the whites about what Peter Poyas had spoken to me about? I replied, no! Says Peter, You never did? No! I answered. Says Ned, to me, how do you stand?
At which I struck the tree box with my knuckles and said, as firm
as this box--I'll never say one word against you. Ned then
smiled and nodded his head, and said, that will do! when we
all separated. Last Tuesday or Wednesday week, Peter said to
me, you see, my lad, how the white people have got to windward
of us? You won't, said I, be able to do any thing. O,
yes! (he said) we will! By George, we are obliged to! He said,
all down this way ought to meet and have a collection to purchase
powder. What, said I, is the use of powder--the whites can fire
three times to our once. He said, but 'twill be such a dead time
of the night, they won't know what is the matter, and our horse companies
will go about the streets and prevent the whites from assembling.
I asked him--where will you get horses? Why, said
he, there are many butcher boys with horses; and there are the
livery stables, where we have several candidates; and the waiting
men, belonging to the white people of the horse companies,
will be told to take away their master's horses. He asked me if
my master was not a horseman? I said, yes! Has he not got
arms in his house? I answered, yes! Can't they be got at?
I said, yes! Then, (said he) it is good to have them. I asked
what was the plan? Why, said he, after we have taken the arsenals
and guardhouses, then we will set the town on fire in
different places, and as the whites come out we will slay them.
If we were to set fire to the town first the man in the steeple
would give the alarm too soon. I am the captain, said he, to
take the lower guardhouse and arsenal. But, I replied, when
you are coming up, the centinel will give the alarm. He said,
he would advance a little distance ahead, and if he could only
get a grip at his throat he was a gone man, for his sword was very
sharp; he had sharpened it, and had made it so sharp, it had cut
his finger, which he showed me. As to the arsenal on the neck,
he said, that it was gone as sure as fate, Ned Bennett would
manage that with the people from the country, and the people between
Hibbens' ferry and Santee would land and take the upper
guardhouse. I then said, then this thing seems true. My man,
said he, God has a hand in it, we have been meeting for four years,
and are not yet betrayed. I told him, I was afraid, after all, of the
white people from the back country, and Virginia, &c. He said
that the blacks would collect so numerous from the country, we
need not fear the whites from the other parts, for when we have
once got the city we can keep them all out. He asked, if I had
told my boys. I said no. Then said he, you should do it, for
Ned Bennett has his people pretty well ranged. But, said he,
take care and don't mention it to those waiting men who receive
presents of old coats, &c. from their masters, or they'll betray us.
I will speak to them. We then parted, and I have not since
conversed with him. He said the rising was to take place last
Sunday night, (16th June)[.] That any of the coloured people who
said a word about this matter would be killed by the others. The little
man, who can't be killed, shot, or taken, is named Jack, a Gullah negro. Peter said there was a French company in town of three hundred men fully armed --that he was to see Monday Gell, about expediting the rising. I know that Mingo went often to Mr. Paul's to see Edwin, but don't know if he spoke with William. Peter said he had a sword, and I ought to get one. He said he had got a letter from the country; I think from St. Thomas's, from a negro man who belonged to the captain of a militia company, who said he could easily get the key of the house where the company's arms were put after muster, and take them all out, and help in that way. This business originates altogether with the African congregation, in which Peter is a leader. When Bennett's Ned asked about those taken up, he alluded particularly to Mr. Paul's William, and asked me if I said any thing to him about it.
I know Denmark Vesey, on one occasion he asked me, what news? I told him; none. He replied, we are free, but the white people here won't let us be so; and the only way is, to raise up and fight the whites. I went to his house one night, to learn where the meetings were held. I never conversed on this subject with Batteau or Ned. Vesey told me, he was the leader in this plot. I never conversed either with Peter or Mingo. Vesey induced me to join. When I went to Vesey's house, there was a meeting there, the room was full of people, but none of them white. That night, at Vesey's, we determined to have arms made, and each man to put in twelve and a half cents towards that purpose. Though Vesey's room was full, I did not know one individual there. At this meeting, Vesey said, we were to take the guardhouse and magazines, to get arms; that we ought to rise up against the whites to get our liberties. He was the first to rise up and speak, and he read to us from the bible, how the children of Israel were delivered out of Egypt from bondage; he said, that the rising would take place last Sunday night, (the 16th June,) and that Peter Poyas was one.
I know Jesse, and heard him speak several times about it; one day in particular, he was anxious to see his brother, who has my mother for his wife, and waited until he came, when they conversed together. Jesse said, he had got a horse to go into the country, to bring down men to fight the white people; that he was allowed to pass by two parties of the patrol on the road, but that a third party had brought him back, and that if there were
but five men like him, they would destroy the city. This was on last Sunday week, (the 16th June,) he said, that before 3 o'clock, that night, all the white people would be killed. That if any person informed, or would not join in the fight, such person would be killed or poisoned. He frequently came into the yard to see his brother, and I threatened to inform, if he came there, and spoke in that way, to get us all into trouble. We never had any quarrel.
I know Jesse; he met me last Sunday week (16th June) at the corner of Boundary street, as I was coming into town; he said, he was going to get a horse to go into the country. From what my master had told me the Thursday before, I distrusted his errand, and gave him a caution. When, as I was going down into town towards Mr. Hibben's ferry slip, and conversing with him, he said, you shall see to night, when I come down, what I am going up for, and, if my own father does not assist, I will cut off his head[.] He said, he was going as far as Goose creek bridge, and would get a horse if it cost him nine dollars. The church bells were then ringing, and at half past eleven o'clock, same day, I saw him at Mr. Howard's, and afterwards understood from Sally, that he had set off for the country, and had been brought back by the patrole.
I know Denmark Vesey, and have been to his house; I have heard him say, that the negro's situation was so bad, he did not know how they could endure it; and was astonished they did not rise and fight for themselves, and he advised me to join, and rise. He said, he was going about to see different people, and mentioned the names of Ned Bennett and Peter Poyas, as concerned with him; that he had spoken to Ned and Peter on this subject, and that they were to go about and tell the blacks, that they were free, and must rise and fight for themselves: that they would take the magazines and guardhouses, and the city, and be free; that he was going to send into the country to inform the people there, too; he said, he wanted me to join them. I said, I could not answer. He said, if I would not go into the country for him, he could get others; he said, himself, Ned Bennett, Peter Poyas, and Monday Gell, were the principal men, and himself the head man. He said, they were the principal men to go about and inform the people, and fix them, &c. that one party would land on South Bay, one about Wappoo and about the farms; that the party which was to land on South Bay, was to take the guardhouse, and get arms, and then they would be able to go on; that the attack was to commence about 12 o'clock at night; that great
numbers would come from all about, and it must succeed, as so many were engaged in it; that they would kill all the whites; that they would leave their masters' houses, and assemble near the lines, march down and meet the party which would land on South Bay; that he was going to send a man into the country on a horse, to bring down the country peopel, and that he would pay for the horse. He gave two dollars to Jesse, to get the horse on Saturday week last, (15th June,) about 1 o'clock in the day, and myself and witness (No. 8,) also put in 25 cents a piece, and he told Jesse, if he could not go, he must send some one else. I have seen Ned Bennett at Vesey's. I one night met at Vesey's a great number of men, and as they came in, they each handed him some money. Vesey said, there was a little man, named Jack, who could not be killed, and who would furnish them with arms; he had a charm, and would lead them; that Charles Drayton had promised to be engaged with them. Vesey said, the negroes were living such an abominable life, they ought to rise. I said, I was living well. He said, though I was, others was not, and that it was such fools as I, that were in their way, and would not help them, and that, after all things were well, he would mark me. He said, he did not go with Creighton to Africa, because he had not a will, he wanted to stay and see what he could do for his fellow creatures. I met Ned, Monday, and others, at Denmark Vesey's, where they were talking about this business.
The first time I spoke with Monday Gell, it was one night at Denmark Vesey's house, where I heard Vesey tell Monday, that he must send some one into the country to bring the people down. Monday said, he had sent up Jack, and told him to tell the people to come down and join in the fight against the whites; and also to ascertain and inform him how many people he could get. A few days after, I met Vesey, Monday, and Jack in the streets, under Mr. Duncan's trees, at night, where Jack stated, he had been into the country, round by Goose Creek and Dorchester; that he had spoken to 6,600 persons, who had agreed to join. Monday said to Vesey, that if Jack had so many men, they had better wait no longer, but begin the business at once, and others would join. The first time I saw Monday at Vesey's, he was going away early, when Vesey asked him to stay, to which Monday replied, he expected that night a meeting at his house, to fix upon and mature the plan, &c. and that he could stay no longer. I afterwards conversed with Monday in his shop, when he asked me, if I had heard that Bennett's and Poyas's people were taken up, that it was a great pity. He said, he had joined in the business. I told him to take care he was not taken up. Whenever I talked with Vesey, he always spoke of Monday Gell as being his principal and active man in this business.
Peter Poyas was the first man who spoke to me, and asked me to join, I asked him what, the church? He said, no, have you not heard, that the blacks were joining, to try and take the country. I asked him, if he thought he had men enough to do it? He said, yes, a plenty of men, and the society will contribute money, with which a white man would purchase guns and powder for them. He said he would call back, and I must consider if I would join them. He called back, and asked me, if I was willing now? Why Peter, said I, you have not got force enough. He said, if I did not join, he would turn all my country people against me. Said I, if so, I'll join you, but you must not put my name down, when you come out, if I find you strong enough, I'll join you. Well, said he, if you don't join you'll be killed. Peter and Harry Haig called on me afterwards, I was not at home; but the next morning I met Harry, who asked me for my name. I refused it. He said, I would be killed if I did not join. I said, I would join when they came out, if they were stronger than the whites. Harry called on me again, and asked me, if I was willing, that the thing would break out soon. I asked him, where they would begin? He said, in Boundary street. At what hour? He said, at 12 o'clock at night, or early in the morning, as soon as the guard is discharged. Jack Pritchard called on me, he is sometimes called Gullah Jack, sometimes Couter Jack, he gave me some dry food, consisting of parched corn and ground nuts, and said, eat that, and nothing else, on the morning when it breaks out, and when you join us as we pass, put into your mouth this crab claw, and you can't be wounded, and, said he, I give the same to the rest of my troops--if you drop the large crab claw out of your mouth, then put in the small one. Said I, when do you break out, and have you arms? He said, plenty, but they are over Boundary street, we can't get at them now, but as soon as the patrol was slack, they could get them; this was previous to the 16th June, on which day, he said, they were to break out. On that day he came to me, and said, they could not break out that night, as the patrol was too strong; he said, he would let me know when they were ready. That Sunday fortnight, the 30th June, he came to me, and said, I must lay by still, they would not break out then, that he had been round to all his company, and found them cowards. I said, thank God, then! He said, give me back my corn and cullah, (that is crab claw.) I said, I would not, and upbraided him for having deluded so many. He said, all his country born promised him to join, because he was a doctor, (that is, a conjurer.) He said, the white people was looking for him, and he was afraid of being taken, that two men came to his master's wharf, and asked him, if he knew Gullah Jack, and that he told them, no. He said, his charms
would not protect him from the treachery of his own colour. He went away, and I have not seen him since. Harry Haig has since seen me several times, and told me to hold myself ready. I said, I'm ready when called on. He said, all the draymen came to his master's cooper yard, and said they were ready, but he told them, he was only waiting for Gullah Jack. He said, he would tell me when they were ready, that they were only waiting for the head man, who was a white man; but he, although asked, would neither tell me the white man's name, nor where the powder and arms were; this was last Tuesday, the very day the six negroes were hanged, about six o'clock, A. M. this was the last time we spoke, though I have seen him since. I saw Charles Drayton before the 16th, at Monday Gell's, I was going to Market, and Charles called to me as I crossed the street; Joe, who has a wife at Mr. Remoussin's, asked me, if I did know that Monday was at the head of the Ebo company, who are going to fight the white people; Monday is an Ebo. I asked Joe, if he was one of that company. He said yes, he was. I asked him, what he could do, as he was an invalid. He said, he would take Remoussin's sword and gun, and tell him to lay down in his bed and be quiet. We parted. Previous to the 16th of June, Monday Gell called me into his shop; I went in, and said to him, I heard he was captain of his countrymen's company, the Ebos. He said, he was a sort of a one. I bid him good morning, when he said, when you want to hear the news, come here. I never saw him afterwards.
I met Charles Drayton on the 1st of July in the streets, when he said, now get ready, we must break out at once, for we will not let six lives be taken. I asked him, where they would begin? He said, in Boundary street, directly as the patrol and light horse turned in. I said, had you not better wait till after the 4th of July. He said, no, because in the mean time the people would be hanged. Charles said, they had force enough, and we parted. I met him in market, betwixt 8 and 9 o'clock, on the 2d of July, and said to him, now the people are hanged, I suppose you are sorry you joined in the business. He said yes, and we parted. Peter Poyas told me also, that they had force enough, that some would come from James' and John's islands, and some from Christ church parish, where he generally went over to a meeting to have a talk, and that he had some about and about in town, the number of which he would show me from the society books, if I would only come to the society. He said, they were to fight the whites, and keep on fighting, till the English came to help them. Harry told me the same thing. Jack being the head man, I asked him about the plan, he told me the same thing; that the English were to come here to help them, that the Americans could do nothing against the English, and that the English would carry them off to St. Domingo. Monday and Charles were very great together. John, Mr. Horry's coachman,
came to me one day, and asked me what I thought? Every one is ready, said John, to fight the whites, are you ready? He said, I am ready. This took place sometime before the 16th June, and every day he asked me the same questions. About this time George Vanderhorst came to me and said, they were going to take the country, and he had joined; that he was ready whenever the blacks broke out. He requested me to let him sleep at my wife's house near Boundary street; I saw him almost every day after the 16th June, and he always said, he was ready whenever the troops were ready. On the 16th June, Jack requested me to let twelve men sleep at my wife's, as they were to break out that night, and he wanted them to be near Boundary street. On being refused, he departed in anger, and reproached me[.] George called on me yesterday morning, and asked, if I knew that Charles Drayton was taken up, and said, he was afraid Charles would name him, not because he was on his list, for he had joined Jack's company, but because Charles had met him at Gullah Jack's, when they were consulting on the subject; that, if he could hear that Charles had named him, he would run off. On Monday, 1st July, Charles Drayton told me, that there would be an insurrection on the morning of the 6th July, as soon as the guard turned in; he said, he commanded the country born company. Jack told me on the 1st July the same thing, and in addition, that they were to rush in with their dirks, guns, and swords, &c. they had got, kill the city guard, and take all the arms in the arsenals; he also said, there were some arms in King street, beyond Boundary street, in possession of a white man, which they intended to take, (alluding to the arms of the Charleston neck company, deposited at Wharton's, in King street.) Charles Drayton said, he had prepared for himself a gun and a sword. John Horry came to me very often, and once said, he had a sword, and that, as soon as it broke out, he would go up stairs and kill his master and family. On the 17th of June, on his carriage box, he expressed himself to me in the same manner he had done previous to the 16th. The blacks would have risen on the night of the 16th, had the guards not been so strong; this I know from Gullah Jack and Harry Haig, who said, that if the guards were not too strong, they would get the arms near the lines, but if the guards were out, they could not get them to break out with.
Julius Forrest, and myself, always worked together. Gullah Jack calls himself a negro doctor, he induced Julius and myself to join at last, but at first we refused; before the 16th June, Jack appointed to meet us at Bulkley's farm; when we got there, Jack was not there, but Peter Poyas came; we broke up at day light. Not quite a month before the 16th June, Jack met me, and talked about war. I asked Jack, how he would do for arms?
Bye and bye, said Jack, we will have arms; he said, he would have some arms made at the blacksmith's. Jack was going to give * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Until Jack was taken up and condemned to death, I was just like I was bound up, and had not the power to speak one word about it. Jack charmed Julius and myself at last, and we then consented to join. Tom Russell, the blacksmith, and Jack are partners, (in conjuring) Jack learnt him to be a doctor. Tom talked to Jack about the fighting, and agreed to join, and those two brought Julius and myself to agree to it. Jack said, Tom was his second, and "when you don't see me, and see Tom, you see one." Jack said, Tom was making arms for the black people; Jack said, he would not be killed, nor could a white man take him.
I was invited to Denmark Vesey's house, and when I went, I found several men met together, among whom was Ned Bennett, Peter Poyas, and others, whom I did not know. Denmark opened the meeting by saying, he had an important secret to communicate to us, which we must not disclose to any one, and if we did, we should be put to instant death. He said, we were deprived of our rights and privileges by the white people, and that our church was shut up, so that we could not use it, and that it was high time for us to seek for our rights, and that we were fully able to conquer the whites, if we were only unanimous and courageous, as the St. Domingo people were. He then proceeded to explain his plan, by saying, that they intended to make the attack by setting the governour's mills on fire, and also some houses near the water, and as soon as the bells began to ring for fire, that they should kill every man, as he came out of his door, and that the servants in the yards should do it, and that it should be done with axes and clubs, and afterwards they should murder the women and children, for he said, God had so commanded it in the scriptures. At another meeting at Denmark's, Ned Bennett and Peter Poyas, and several others were present in conversation, some said, they thought it was cruel to kill the ministers, and the women and children, but Denmark Vesey said, he thought it was for our safety, not to spare one white skin alive, for this was the plan they pursued in St. Domingo. He then said to me, Jesse, I want you to go into the country, to enlist as many of the country negroes as possible, to be in readiness to come down to assist us. I told him, I had no horse, and no money to hire one; he then took out two dollars, and gave them to me to hire a horse, and told me to enlist as many as possible. I got the horse the next Sabbath, and started, but the guard was so strict, I could not
pass them without being taken up; so I returned, and told Denmark, at which he expressed his sorrow, and said, the business was urgent, for they wanted the country people to be armed, that they might attack the forts at the same time, and also to take every ship and vessel in the harbour, and to put every man to death, except the captains. For, said he, it will not be safe to stay in Charleston, for as soon as they had got all the money out of the banks, and the goods out of the stores on board, they intended to sail for St. Domingo; for he had a promise, that they would receive and protect them. This Jesse asserted to me was the truth, whilst the tears were running down his cheeks, and he appeared truly penitent; and I have reason to hope, that he obtained pardon from God, through the merits of Christ, and was prepared to meet his fate with confidence, and that he was accepted of God. At 4 o'clock in the morning of the execution, I visited all the prisoners condemned, and found Jesse at prayers. He told me, his mind was placid and calm; he then assured me, that what he had told me was the truth, and that he was prepared to meet his God.
I come out as a man who knows he is about to die--some time after Christmas, Vesey passed my door, he called in, said to me that he was trying to gather the blacks to try and see if any thing could be done to overcome the whites; he asked me to join; I asked him his plan and his numbers; he said he had Peter Poyas, Ned Bennet, and Jack Purcell; he asked me to join; I said no; he left me and I saw him not for some time. About four or five weeks ago as I went up Wentworth street, Frank Ferguson met me, and said he had four plantations of people who he was to go for on Saturday, 15th June. How, said I, will you bring them down; he said through the woods; he asked me if I was going towards Vesey's to ask Vesey to be at home that evening, and he would be there to tell him his success. I asked Jack Purcell to carry this message, he said he would; that same evening at my house I met Vesey's mulatto boy, he told me Vesey wished to see me, I went with him; when I went into Vesey's I met Ned Bennett, Peter Poyas, and Frank Ferguson, and Adam, and Gullah Jack; they were consulting about the plan; Frank told Vesey on Saturday 15th, he would go and bring down the people and lodge them near town in the woods; the plan was to arm themselves by breaking open the stores with arms. I then told Vesey I would join them, after sometime I told them I had some business of my own and asked them to excuse me, I went away, and only then was I ever there. One evening Perault Strohecker, and Bacchus Hammett brought to my shop a keg, and asked me to let it stay there till they sent for it; I said yes, but did not know the contents; the next evening Gullah Jack came and took away the keg, this was before the 16th June;
since I have been in prison I learnt that the keg contained powder.
Pharo Thompson is concerned, and he told me, a day or two after Ned and Peter were taken up, if he could get a fifty dollar bill, he would run away; about two Sundays before I was brought here, he asked me, in Archdale street, when shall we be like those white people in the church; I said when it pleased God; Sunday before I was taken up, he met me as I came out of Archdale church, and took me into a stable in said street, and told me he had told his master, who had asked him, that he had nothing to do in this affair; which was a lie. William Colcock came to my shop once and said a brother told him that five hundred men were making up for the same purpose. Frank said he was to send to Hell Hole swamp to get men.
Perault Strohecker is engaged; he used to go of a Sunday on horse back up the road to a man he knows on the same errand. One Sunday he asked me to go with him; I went and Smart Anderson; we went to a small house a little way from the road after you turn into the shipyard road, on its left hand; they two went into the stable with an old man that lived there, I remained in the yard; they remained in the stable about half an hour; as soon as they came out, I and Perault started to town to go to church, and left Smart there; I was told by Denbow Martin, who has a wife in Mr. Smith's house, that Stephen Smith belonged to some of the gangs.
Saby Gaillard is concerned; he met me on the Bay, before the 16th of June and gave me a piece of paper from his pocket; this paper was about the battle that Boyer had in St. Domingo; in a day or two he called on me and asked if I had read it, and said if he had as many men he would do the same too, as he could whip ten white men himself; he frequently came to me to speak about this matter, and at last I had to insult him out of the shop; he and Paris Ball was often together. A week before I was taken up, Paris told me that my name was called.
Billy Palmer and Vesey were constantly together; there was once in my shop a long talk between them about this same matter; I begged them to stop it; Vesey told him to try to get as many as he could; he said he would.
John Vincent told me that Edward Johnson, a free man, had said, as he was a free man he would have nothing to do with slaves, but the night they began he would join them.
I told Charles Drayton what uproar there was about this business, and since we have been here we have talked together.
Albert Inglis came to me and asked if I knew any thing about it; I said yes. He asked me if I had joined; I said yes; he said he was one also; he said Adam, a free man wanted to see me, I went with him one night; Adam asked me how many men had joined; I told him what Frank Ferguson had said; he asked me if I believed it; I said yes; he said if he could only find
men behind him he would go before. Previous to the 16th, Albert said to me quit the business; I told him I was too far into it, so I must stick to it.
I never wrote to St. Domingo*
* Perault unhesitatingly stated to Monday's face, that he had written
two letters, to St. Domingo, and that he (Perault) had gone to Vanderhorst's
wharf with him, in April or May last, to give them in charge of a black
cook on board of a schooner bound to that island. After Monday was so
charged, he confessed that the fact was so, and that he had been induced
to conceal it under an apprehension that if it were known he had been guilty
of such an act all chance of mercy would be denied him.
or any where else on this subject, nor kept a list or books, nor saw any such things, but heard that Paul's William had a list, nor did I hear anything about arms being in possession of the blacks. I don't know that Tom Russel made pikes, nor that Gullah Jack had any of them.
* Perault unhesitatingly stated to Monday's face, that he had written two letters, to St. Domingo, and that he (Perault) had gone to Vanderhorst's wharf with him, in April or May last, to give them in charge of a black cook on board of a schooner bound to that island. After Monday was so charged, he confessed that the fact was so, and that he had been induced to conceal it under an apprehension that if it were known he had been guilty of such an act all chance of mercy would be denied him.
Lewis Remoussin called at my shop and asked me to call at his house, he had something to tell me, but I did not go; Jack Glen told me he was engaged.
I met Scipio Sims one Sunday, coming from the country, who said he had been near the Savannahs to Mr. Middleton's place; I heard afterwards that his errand was on this business.
I know John the cooper, who said he was engaged too in this business.
William Garner said he was engaged in it and had got twelve or thirteen draymen to join.
Sandy Vesey told me he belonged to it too.
At Vesey's house, Frank told Gullah Jack, to put one ball and three buck shot in each cartridge.
Mingo Harth acknowledged to me that he had joined, and Peter Poyas told me so too; he, Mingo, told me so several times; Mingo said he was to have his master's horse on the night of the 16th.
Lot Forrester told me frequently that he was one of the company, and I know that he had joined in the business myself. Isaac Harth told me once that he had joined, he knew I was in the business.
Morris Brown knew nothing of it, and we agreed not to let him, Harry Drayton, or Charles Corr, know any thing about it. -- -- told me in my store that he was to get some powder from his master and give it to Peter Poyas; he seemed to have been a long time engaged in it, and to know a great deal. Joe Jore acknowledged to me once or twice that he had joined, he said he knew some of the Frenchmen concerned; he knew I was in it.
If it had not been for the cunning of that old villain Vesey, I should not now be in my present situation. He employed every stratagem to induce me to join him. He was in the habit of reading to me all the passages in the newspapers that related to St. Domingo,
and apparently every pamphlet he could lay his hands on, that had any connexion with slavery. He one day brought me a speech which he told me had been delivered in Congress by a Mr. King on the subject of slavery; he told me this Mr. King was the black man's friend; that he, Mr. King, had declared he would continue to speak, write, and publish pamphlets against slavery the longest day he lived, until the Southern states consented to emancipate their slaves, for that slavery was a great disgrace to the country.
Monday Gell led me in it and took me to Vesey's; there was a large meeting; Vesey told the meeting the people was to rise up and fight the white people for their liberty; we always went to Monday's house afterwards; Monday did all the writing; I heard they were trying all round the country to Georgetown, Santee, and round to Combahee, &c. about to get people; Peter was also there, he was one; Peter named Poyas' plantation, where he went to meet; Bellisle Yates I have seen at the meetings, and Adam Yates, Naphur Yates, Dean Mitchell, Cæsar Smith and George (a stevidore) At Vesey's they wanted to make collection to make pikes for the country people, but the men had no money! Monday Gell said Purcell was one to get horses to send men into the country; I heard a blacksmith was to make pikes. Jack McNeil is engaged; I have seen them all at Monday's; Jack said he was one and would try to get men; the plan was to take the arsenals and guardhouses for arms, and not to fire the town unless they failed; Monday was writing a letter to St. Domingo, to go by a vessel lying at Gibb's and Harper's wharf; the letter was about the sufferings of the blacks, and to know the people of St. Domingo would help them if they made an effort to free themselves; he was writing this letter in March, I am not certain of the time; Perault was present when Monday wrote the letter, and also a painter, named Prince Righton; I have seen Pompey Haig at Monday's, but he neither assented or dissented; Jerry Cohen was at Vesey's, and said to me he was one; I heard from Vesey and Monday that they had engaged men from the country; Peter Poyas said he had sent into the country to his brother to engage men, who would send him an answer; a party was to attack the guardhouse and arsenal; another the arsenal on the neck; another the naval stores on Mey's wharf; another to attack the magazine; another to meet at Lightwood's alley and then try to cut off the companies from meeting at their places of rendezvous; I belong to the African congregation; on Saturday the 15th June, a man was to be sent into the country to bring down the people, and Rolla was to command the country people from Ashley river at the bridge; Ned Bennett and John Horry to meet at Mr. Horry's corner, and Batteau to come down with Vesey's party.
They have been respited to the 25th day of October, 1822, with a view to the commutation of their punishment to banishment beyond the limits of the United States.
This man will go out of the United States at his own request, under the direction of the city council.
Respectively snbmitted by
FRED. WESNER, THO. D. CONDY, THO. NAPIER,
SAMUEL BURGER, EDWARD P. SIMONS,
Com. of Vigilance.
* The above is selected out of the many Sentences passed on this occasion, with a view, to give the reader a general idea of them.
9th July, 1822.--JACK, a slave belonging to Paul Pritchard, commonly called GULLAH JACK and sometimes COUTER JACK, was brought up, and sentence pronounced by L. H. KENNEDY, Presiding Magistrate.
JACK PRITCHARD--The Court after deliberately considering all the circumstances of your case, are perfectly satisfied of your guilt. In the prosecution of your wicked designs, you were not satisfied with resorting to natural and ordinary means, but endeavoured to enlist on your behalf, all the powers of darkness, and employed for the purpose, the most disgusting mummery and superstition. You represented yourself as invulnerable; that you could neither be taken nor destroyed, and that all who fought under your banners would be invincible. While such wretched expedients are calculated to inspire the confidence, or to alarm the fears of the ignorant and credulous, they excite no other emotion in the mind of the intelligent and enlightened, but contempt and disgust. Your boasted charms have not preserved yourself, and of course could not protect others. "Your altars and your gods have sunk together in the dust." The airy spectres, conjured by you, have been chased away by the special light of truth, and you stand exposed, the miserable and deluded victim of offended justice. Your days are literally numbered. You will shortly be consigned to the cold and silent grave, and all the powers of darkness cannot rescue you from your approaching fate! Let me then, conjure you to devote the remnant of your miserable existence, in fleeing from the "wrath to come." This can only be done by a full disclosure of the truth. The court are willing to afford you all the aid in their power, and to permit any minister of the gospel, whom you may select to have free access to you. To him you may unburden your guilty conscience. Neglect not the opportunity, or there is "no device nor art beyond the tomb," to which you must shortly be consigned.
Since these sheets have been put to press, it affords him, who has been engaged in their preparation, much gratification to be able to correct one mistake, as it places the fidelity of the slave who first gave the intelligence of the intended insurrection, on much higher ground. On conferring with his master, and the free man of colour, whose advice he sought, it appears that the slave in question communicated the conversation at the market to his young master, before he consulted his friend, (the free man of colour,) and that the advice of the latter was that as "his young master was a youth, that it would be best for him immediately, without delay, to tell his mistress, that his master might receive the information the instant he came to town. Vide page 4.