Denmark Vesey House
Backstory and Context
Denmark Vesey (1767-1822) was owned by Captain Joseph Vesey and accompanied him on his trading voyages until he retired to Charleston. Vesey won a street lottery in 1799 and was able to purchase his freedom with $600 of his winnings. He was unable to purchase the freedom of his wife and children and it is speculated that this failure motivated his crusade to end slavery. It is believed that he set up his carpenter shop in the neighborhood of 56 Bull Street. He joined the newly formed African Methodist Episcopal church in 1817, becoming a class leader. He became enraged by interference of white Charlestonians and began to preach that those of African descent were the New Israelites and chosen by God.
In 1822, Vesey along with other members of the church, plotted a slave uprising with the intent of seizing the arsenals and guard houses, freeing all slaves in the area as well as killing all whites, setting fire to the city and fleeing to Haiti. The rebellion was to occur on July 14, Bastille Day. With more than 9000 expected to participate, they were betrayed by fellow slaves. Three hundred thirteen alleged participants were arrested, 67 were convicted with 35 of those executed. Denmark Vesey was hanged.
The house at 56 Bull Street was initially believed to be the home of Vesey and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976 even though there was no concrete evidence that the home had been owned by him. Further research has concluded that this was not his home and that it may not have been standing during his lifetime. The house is privately owned and not open to the public. It is currently used as a college student rental property. No plaque is present
National Register Number: 76001698, designated a National Historic Landmark May 11, 1976