In 1822, White authorities in Charleston, South Carolina, learned of plans among the city's enslaved population to lead an armed antislavery rebellion. Among the leaders was a free Black carpenter named Denmark Vesey. After a brief investigation and what many considered a dubious trial, Vesey and 35 others were convicted of attempted insurrection and hanged. To this day, activists, politicians, writers, and scholars have questioned and debated the historical significance of the conspiracy, its commemoration, and the integrity of the archival records left behind.
James O'Neil Spady has collected essays by 14 outstanding scholars, who reframe the Vesey affair as part of the broader development of Black Radical antislavery movements in the Atlantic World. Essays focus on Vesey and several other rebellion events, including the forcible rescue of African Americans being trafficked within the United States.
Manisha Sinha, James L. and Shirley A. Draper Chair in American History at the University of Connecticut and author of The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition, provides the foreword.
James O'Neil Spady, associate professor of American history at Soka University of America, is the author of Education and the Racial Dynamics of Settler Colonialism in Early America: Georgia and South Carolina, 1700–1820.