May 30th, 1822

Denmark Vesey's Rebellion Against Slavery Uncovered

Denmark Vesey spent his childhood traveling throughout the Caribbean as an enslaved black servant of a white sea captain, then worked for the captain as a house servant in Charleston, South Carolina. Mr. Vesey eventually started a family, fathered three children and, in 1799, purchased his freedom with $1500 won in a lottery. His family remained enslaved.

Over the next decade, Mr. Vesey worked as a carpenter and co-founded an African Methodist Episcopal church. In 1820, Charleston authorities ordered the closure of Mr. Vesey's church. Angered by the closure, fed up with the continued enslavement of his children, and inspired by the Haitian Revolution of 1791, Mr. Vesey began planning a rebellion to free enslaved black people in Charleston. The attack was planned for the second week of July 1822.

Mr. Vesey modeled his plan after the Haitian Revolution by exhorting his followers to kill their masters, free other enslaved blacks in the city, and sail to Haiti before whites could retaliate. On May 30, 1822, the plan was foiled when a black house servant named George Wilson informed his master of the pending revolt. Charleston authorities promptly arrested and interrogated dozens of suspected conspirators. Mr. Vesey was captured on June 22 and tortured but he refused to identify his comrades.

A total of 131 men was arrested; 67 were convicted and 35, including Denmark Vesey, were executed. The city destroyed Mr. Vesey's church building. Mr. Vesey and his followers inspired abolitionists and black soldiers through the Civil War.


November 17th, 1828

Alabama Declares Its Laws Enforceable in Creek Nation Territory

On November 17, 1828, the Alabama General Assembly passed “An Act to extend the jurisdiction of the State of Alabama over the Creek Nation.” The law became effective January 29, 1829. Alarmed at the state attempt to codify legal encroachment into Creek territory, tribal leaders turned to the federal government to plead for intervention and defense. Instead, the federal authorities seized the growing state pressure on Creek sovereignty as an opportunity to further aspirations to relocate the Creeks out of the southern region.

In March 1829, President Andrew Jackson announced that federal protection only existed for the Creeks willing to leave Alabama for the Western Territory, writing:

"Where you now are, you and my white children are too near to each other to live in harmony and peace...Beyond the great river Mississippi, where a part of your nation has gone, your father has provided a country large enough for all of you, and he advises you to remove to it...In that country, your father, the President, now promises to protect you, to feed you, and to shield you from all encroachment...My white children in Alabama have extended their law over your country. If you remain in it, you must be subject to that law. If you remove across the Mississippi, you will be subject to your own laws, and the care of your father, the President...It is for your nation’s good, and your father requests you to hear his counsel."

Shortly after the passage of the Alabama law, prominent Creeks Opothle Yoholo and Jim Boy were summoned to appear before the Montgomery County Circuit Court on charges of assault against a white man. Opothle Yoholo and Jim Boy argued they were not subject to the court’s jurisdiction, but the judge proceeded with the case and awarded the alleged victim $4500 in damages.

In 1832, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the extension act as constitutional, in Caldwell v. State, and later that year the General Assembly passed another law, this time criminalizing tribal laws and customs that conflicted with Alabama law. By 1837, 23,000 Creeks had emigrated out of the Southeast.


June 30th, 1829

Cincinnati, Ohio, Enforces Laws to Drive Out Black Population

On June 30, 1829, officials in Cincinnati, Ohio, issued a notice requiring black residents to adhere to laws passed in 1804 and 1807 aimed at preventing “fugitive slaves” and freed blacks from settling in Ohio.

The 1804 law required every black person in Ohio to obtain proof of freedom and to register with the clerk’s office in his or her county of residence. It also prohibited employers from hiring a black person without proof of freedom, imposed a fine on those who hid fugitive slaves, and provided to any person asserting “a legal claim” to a black person a procedure for “retaking and possessing his or her black or mulatto servant.” The 1807 amendments to the law required black people seeking residence in Cincinnati to post $500 bond guaranteed by two white men. In addition to increasing fines for employing a black person without proof of freedom and assisting fugitive slaves, the 1807 amendments prohibited black people from testifying in court against whites.

The 1804 law and 1807 amendment failed to stem the growth of Ohio’s black population and by 1829 blacks represented at least 10 percent of Cincinnati’s population. In another attempt to discourage black residence in Cincinnati, officials posted a notice informing the public that the 1807 law would be “rigidly enforced” and warning against helping any black person in violation of the law. The notice effectively sanctioned mob violence against the black community, stating, “The full cooperation of the public is expected in carrying these laws into full effect.”

Recognizing the notice as a threat, hundreds of black people organized, requested, and were granted asylum in Canada. Those who remained were targeted with mob violence by whites.