(Photo: Courtesy National Park Service)
Denmark Vesey was sold into slavery at age 14, but in 1799 won a lottery that enabled him to buy freedom for $600. Unfortunately his wife and children had to remain enslaved. According to a PBS account, that may have sparked his "crusade to destroy the institution of slavery."
Vesey joined and became a leader in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Vesey witnessed with growing frustration and anger whites monitoring the church, interrupting services and even arresting members.
He was one of the founders of the Emanuel AME Church there, where nine members were killed on June 17, 2015.
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In 1822, Vesey and other church leaders began plotting a slave revolt that was scheduled to take place on July 14. The goal was to kill every white man in sight and set fire to the city. After word of their plan got out, Vesey changed the date to June 16, the very day his plan was aborted by white officials. He and 34 fellow conspirators were later captured and hanged.
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