Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, Regarding Slave Insurrections (1800)
One of the first attempted slave revolts, the so-called Gabriel Conspiracy of 1800 led to increased restrictions on slaves and free blacks alike that would continue until emancipation. The revolt’s leader was Gabriel Prosser (1776–1800) a literate and trained craftsman who planned an armed advance on the city of Richmond, Virginia. The march, however, died out almost as quickly as it began, as several slaves warned their masters of the impending attack. Soon, Governor James Monroe placed a bounty of three hundred dollars on Gabriel’s head, and the twenty-four year old was captured and hanged within a few weeks. The insurrection so startled the white population that the state government passed a series of laws establishing a special police force, restricting the movement of slaves, and even threatening to re-enslave freed blacks who did not leave the state.
In the correspondence below dated September 20 1800 Thomas Jefferson advises Governor ...