Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Slave who led failed revolt in 1800 ‘pardoned’











Unlike many of his enslaved peers, Gabriel Prosser was learned. As a blacksmith, he saw life outside of the plantation. Artisans and craftsmen like Prosser were allowed to earn their own money from their trades, but the system had limits. Access to raw goods was controlled and masters required payments on income.

Gabriel Prosser, who was hanged for planning the first major slave rebellion in U.S. history, has won a symbolic gubernatorial pardon.

Prosser and 34 supporters were executed* after two slaves cracked under pressure and revealed the planned Aug. 30, 1800, uprising to their masters. Read more about the revolt here.

In an informal pardon, Gov. Tim Kaine said Prosser was motivated by “his devotion to the ideals of the American Revolution — it was worth risking death to secure liberty.”

“Gabriel’s cause — the end of slavery and the furtherance of equality of all people — has prevailed in the light of history,” Kaine wrote.

Read the Richmond Times-Dispatch article here.
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* He was tried in the court of "Oyer and Terminer," a special court in which slaves were tried without benefit of jury. By law, slaveholders had to be reimbursed by the state for lost property, so in cases where slaves were executed, their masters were reimbursed for their total worth declared by the court. Virginia paid more than $8,900 to slaveholders for the executed slaves.

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