Gabriel’s Rebellion

College of Political Knowledge

Professor’s Classroom

Subject:  Black History/Early American History

It is February and the country celebrates Black History Month……..I try, in some small way, to give some history that may not be widely known, people, incidents, etc……..

We all know the history of slavery in this country or we should if not already…..all the cruelty, all the inequality and the bad stuff we are taught in school.  But you would think that if it was as bad as we are taught there would have been a rebellion or two… least you would think, huh?  Then why was there NO armed opposition to the practice of slavery?

I will bet that there is not a handful of people who know the name of Gabriel……thanx to the Encyclopedia Brittanica…….his name may be better known and his place in history……..

Gabriel, also called Gabriel Prosser    (born c. 1775, near Richmond, Va. [U.S.]—died September 1800, Richmond), American bondsman who planned the first major slave rebellion in U.S. history (Aug. 30, 1800). His abortive revolt greatly increased the whites’ fear of the slave population throughout the South.

The son of an African-born mother, Gabriel grew up as the slave of Thomas H. Prosser. Gabriel became a deeply religious man, strongly influenced by biblical example. In the spring and summer of 1800, he laid plans for a slave insurrection aimed at creating an independent black state in Virginia with himself as king. He planned a three-pronged attack on Richmond, Va., that would seize the arsenal, take the powder house, and kill all whites except Frenchmen, Methodists, and Quakers. Some historians believe that Gabriel’s army of 1,000 slaves (estimates range from 2,000 to 50,000), assembled 6 miles (9.5 km) outside the city on the appointed night, might have succeeded had it not been for a violent rainstorm that washed out bridges and inundated roads. Before the rebel forces could be reassembled, Governor James Monroe, already informed of the plot, ordered out the state militia. Gabriel and about 34 of his companions were subsequently arrested, tried, and hanged.

Sad to say that this was a wake up call to whites……it help usher in more restrictive and cruel penalties against blacks….it help the masters to tighten their grips so that the slaves could not learn about anything other than the land they had to work.  Gabriel tried but all he did was make things a bit worse than they already were…..after the Civil War things got better but were NOT good……it took the Civil Rights Movement to finally free the slaves…..but they will never be truly free until “REAL” equality is accomplished and in today’s political climate that does not look at all promising.

I believe that if you are going to teach about slavery then everything should be taught……

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty…”  We all know where those words are printed….but at times they are just that “WORDS”…….that had NO meaning when it came to the practice of slavery.


4 thoughts on “Gabriel’s Rebellion

  1. Lobotero,

    Yes, I believe everything should be taught. Students should learn, for example, that most of the slaves were not kidnapped by white men stalking through villages in the dead of night, but instead were sold into slavery by their own tribal leaders…

    Students should also learn that while most of our Founders held slaves, many of them recognized their hypocrisy and wrote about it. And some, like Ben Franklin, worked tirelessly in the abolitionist movement.

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