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30 August 2011

On this day in history: Slave rebellion in Richmond, Virginia, 1800

On August 30th 1800, a group of slaves from Henrico County, Virginia, marched on Richmond. The slaves had planned the insurrection for months, under the leadership of Gabriel Prosser. They managed to secure weaponry such as clubs and swords for the revolt. Once in the city the slaves intended to capture more arms, and spark a general slave insurrection.

They were prevented from reaching Richmond by a storm that washed out the bridges and made the roads impassable. Governor Monroe promptly responded, having already been made aware of the plot after two slaves alerted the authorities of what was planned. Monroe called out more than 600 troops and contacted every militia commander in the state. The authorities arrested many of the slaves but Prosser escaped. Of those captured 35 suffered the death penalty. Following his capture in late September, Gabriel Prosser refused to talk and was also executed.

To learn more about the revolt read Herbert Aptheker's account, an extract from his book American Negro Slave Revolts (1943) hosted on the World History Archives site.

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