In the summer of 1800 men from Richmond, Chesterfield, Hanover, and Caroline counties, including an enslaved blacksmith from Richmond named Gabriel, planned the largest slave rebellion in Virginia. Inspired by the American and Haitian Revolutions, they planned to kidnap and ransom the governor to free slaves in the state. A thunderstorm delayed their plans, giving two slaves time to alert their owners. Dozens were rounded up and tried, and 26 were hanged. For decades the African Americans would remember the planned rebellion and sing of “General Gabriel.” Harsher slave laws followed.
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