City Directories and History: Constructed 1820-1860 – “Tradition holds that this is the residence of Denmark Vesey, leader of an aborted slave insurrection in 1822. The single-story frame building with vernacular characteristics follows the scheme of “freedmen’s cottages” built in postbellum Charleston but may contain an earlier structure. Vesey, a native of the West Indies brought to Charleston as a slave, purchased his freedom in 1800 with money from a lottery prize. Vesey went on to become a carpenter, which left him in good financial standing. Accused of corresponding with Santo Domingan revolutionaries and planning to burn Charleston, Vesey and thirty-four other African Americans were hanged. Continuing documentation on this site may affirm the relationship of the front portion of the present building to Denmark Vesey.”
Information from: The Buildings of Charleston – J.H. Poston – Author, for the Historic Charleston Foundation, 1997
“This one-story frame, Greek Revival style house is said to have been the residence, c. 1821-22 of Denmark Vesey, alleged leader of an aborted slave insurrection in 1822. Vesey was a native of the West Indies who, brought to Charleston as a slave, bought his freedom in 1800 with money from a lottery prize, and became a prosperous carpenter. During Vesey’s trial, it was testified that Vesey had corresponded with the black revolutionaries of Santo Domingo, and had enlisted more than 6,000 slaves in Charleston and the region for 50 miles around, into his plot. The testimony stated that the city was to have been burned, the banks robbed, the white men killed, the white women ravished, and ships seized for transporting the insurrectionists to Santo Domingo. Vesey and 34 blacks were hanged and 32 transported from the United States; all were slaves except Vesey. Four white men, accused of having encouraged the plot, were imprisoned. Black churches were closed and new laws adopted for the regulation of blacks.” (Wallace, 384-385. Leland, Charleston: Crossroads of History, 36,38,59. Rosen, 70-72, 91,112. Ravenel, Charleston, The Place and the People, 437-438. Stockton, DYKYC, August 23, 1976. National Register Nomination, Oct. 30, 1975. CEP, March 17, 1977. Starrobin.) – CCPL
Many rebellions and rumors of rebellions occurred throughout the South during the slavery period. One of the most alarming insurrections was that planned in 1822 by a free-black man, Denmark Vesey. Vesey was a trusted member of the free-black population who could read and write. He had been a resident of Santo Domingo, the scene of an earlier rebellion. Vesey designed an insurrection plan of such precision and efficiency that mass hysteria was created throughout the Carolinas and the South. Vesey held meetings at his house to prepare for the insurrection, scheduled for July 14, 1822. On May 25, Peter, a slave of Colonel John C. Prioleau went to the fish market for a purchase and was informed of the impending crisis. Peter informed his master’s wife of the news; Colonel Prioleau informed the City Council. Vesey feared that the plot would be discovered and rescheduled the date of insurrection to June 16. Vesey had lost the element of surprise. The city went on alert and Governor Bennett ordered the militia to be prepared. Vesey was arrested June 21 and placed on trial the following day. Three of Vesey’s men were offered immunity from punishment if they confessed. Three hundred and thirteen alleged participants were arrested, 67 of those were convicted and 35 executed. Vesey was sentenced to death July 2, 1822. Vesey is believed to have established a carpentry business and residence at this Bull Street house ca. 1822. (Note: research since the time of nomination has shown that 56 Bull Street was not Vesey’s house. There is no concrete evidence to support that Vesey ever lived at this address, or that this house was even standing ca. 1820.) Listed in the National Register May 11, 1976; Designated a National Historic Landmark May 11, 1976. Click here to see additional information: nomination form
Other sources of interest: Charleston Tax Payers of Charleston, SC in 1860-61 and the Dwelling Houses of Charleston by Alice R.H. Smith – 1917 The HCF may also have additional data at: Past Perfect and further research can be uncovered at: Charleston 1861 Census Schedule or The Charleston City Guide of 1872
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