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July The birth of Gabriel Prosser in is remembered on this date.
He was a Black abolitionist. He had lost two front teeth and his head was scarred.
Unlike many slaves, he had been educated in his youth, and became a blacksmith, which gave him access to life beyond the plantation. After the American Revolution, skilled slaves were often hired out; some slaves also got Sunday off.
They could earn some money of their own, after paying a portion to their masters. However, white merchants controlled the flow of raw goods into and out of the city, and they could pressure the skilled slaves to lower their prices by simply choking off prsoser stream of materials. The masters, meanwhile, still got their share off the top.
This exploitive system was grounds for revolt among the slaves. InProsser and several other slaves plotted their own revolution, planning to marshal the forces of up to 10, blacks, who Na take Richmond in an armed revolution, kill every white, and save the French, the Methodists, the Quakers and the poor. The plan called for a three-pronged assault on the city on an August night; it was put down just as it got started.
Two slaves who lived on the Henrico plantation of Meadow Farm betrayed the plot to their owner, Mosby Sheppard. Sheppard immediately informed Governor Monroe, who called out the militia. On August 30th, torrential rains washed away ro and bridges, limiting the movement of the rebellious slaves.
About 30 slaves were captured and executed. Prosser, however, eluded the militia and escaped down the Chickahominy River.
He was 24 years old. His bid for freedom only tightened the grip of slavery.
In the aftermath of the insurrection, slave laws were toughened not only in Virginia but also in other states, North and South. In Virginia, abolition societies were driven underground and travel was restricted.
Free blacks that did not leave the state within six months risked re- enslavement. Prosser would herald the cause of independence for himself and for all slaves. It was a cause for which he was willing to take extreme measures and pay the ultimate price. Copyright