Gabriel Prosser's Revolt

August 31, 1800

Details of the Rebellion

Gabriel Prosser was an enslaved black living on a Richmond plantation. He suffered the same hardship and unfavorable conditions as most of his fellow African Americans. However, he was literate and was skilled in black smithing, which gave him a considerably better lifestyle on the plantation. This did not diminish his hatred of his servitude. His literacy and skill allowed him to be exposed to the abolitionist movement ideas, and quickly became enamored with the idea of a slave revolt. Modeled after the slave revolts in Haiti, Prosser gathered around 1000 slaves and began organizing the revolt. They were to violently attack their masters, and hopefully gain the support of poor free whites and gain leverage. However, August 30th ended up raining, so they could not carry out the revolt that day. It was postponed to the next day. Unfortunately, a few slaves got scared and told their masters of Gabriel's plans. The slaves were rounded up, tried, and executed that day for their treacherous actions.

Slave Revolt

Saturday, Aug. 30th 1800 at 12pm

Richmond, VA, United States

Richmond, VA

Effect of the Rebellion

Although the rebellion was unsuccessful, it made slaveholders much more fearful of their slaves' capabilities. Slaveholders increased their violent treatment on their slaves. As the Northern abolitionists generally saw the slaves' efforts as good, and the Southern plantation owners generally saw the slaves' efforts as treason, the divide between this issue widened. Northerners saw this rebellion as a step towards abolition, and the Southerners saw this as a threat to their entire economy. Without the dependence on slave labor in the North, the two regions fail to see eye to eye and ultimately push the country into Civil War.