Class Notes

Jefferson liked to call the Election of 1800, “The Revolution of 1800,” because he claimed it ushered in a time of more democracy and equality.  One person who took Jefferson at his word was a slave named, Gabriel Prosser.  Unlike most slaves, Prosser lived in a city, Richmond, and worked as a blacksmith for hire.  He heard about Jefferson’s revolution and the division amongst the whites between rich and poor.  Inspired by the recent events, he started to recruit a slave army.  His belief was that once his revolution started the poor whites would come to his aid and together, they would take down the established power.

Prosser’s rebellion failed before it even got started.  For one, the night the men were supposed to meet, there was a massive storm that washed out many of the bridges, making it difficult to travel.  Secondly, word spread from slaves to their masters of the plot and whites were prepared for any insurrection.  Lastly, even if he had succeeded into gathering his men, poor whites would never have come to his aid. Even poor non-slave holding whites supported the institution of slavery. 

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