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Today In Charleston History: January 22

1787

The Columbian Herald called for drastic measures to prevent burglaries and robberies:

The danger which threatens the inhabitants from a gang of villains who now actually invest this city [Charleston], calls loudly for an extraordinary exertion of the police, but also of the inhabitants themselves. – It were to be wished that voluntary associations might be entered into to patrol the streets, guard the property of citizens, detect the villains, and bring them to condign punishment.

1800 – Slavery.

 The newly freed slave, Telemaque, now called Denmark, chose his former owner’s surname as his own, Vesey. Most freedmen chose a name that cut their ties with their former owners. Denmark, however, knew that making his living in Charleston would be hard enough and the linguistic association with a prominent white man’s name would give him a better chance to make his way in the city. 

He was unable to purchase freedom for his wife, Beck and their three children. He was also not allowed as a free black to live in the home of his wife’s master. Due to Charleston’s growth, city expansion and ship building Denmark began to make his living as a carpenter in Charleston. A Freeman carpenter could earn a respectable $1.50 per day so Vesey apprenticed himself to a “free black” carpenter named Saby Gaillard, who lived at 2 Wentworth Street.

Vesey “soon became much respected and esteem’d by de white folks … distinguished for his great strength and activity.”

vesey statue copy

Denmark Vesey statue @ Hampton Park, Charleston

 

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