On this day in 1800, Gabriel, an enslaved blacksmith owned by Thomas H. Prosser of Henrico County, was tried and convicted of conspiring to lead a slave insurrection. The testimony suggested a pretty ambitious plan:
Prossers Ben- Gabriel was appointed Captain at first consultation respecting the Insurrection and afterwards when he had enlisted a number of men was appointed General- That they were to kill Mr Prosser Mr. Mosby and all the neighbours, and then proceed to Richmond, where they would kill every body, take the treasury, and divide the money amongst his Soldiers after which he would fortify Richmond, and proceed to discipline his men, as he apprehended force would be raised elsewhere to repel him-
August 30 had been the designated D-Day, but the slaves were foiled by rain and informants. And while Gabriel may have hanged, many Virginians worried that his conspiracy merely foreshadowed greater violence to come.
IMAGE: Testimony in the Trial of Gabriel, top of page 1 (Library of Virginia)