In my History of Virginia class, we just covered Gabriel's Rebellion. It was a failed slave rebellion in 1800. Gabriel, a slave, spent the summer of 1800 building up a huge network of slaves to march on Richmond; the slaves who agreed to march covered Richmond and the surrounding counties, Norfolk, and Petersburg. On August 30, 1800, they were supposed to march on Richmond and demand freedom and equality, but unfortunately it rained that day. Two slaves lost heart and revealed the whole plot to their master; 27 slaves were hung in total.
Gabriel's plan was to take advantage of the rhetoric of the time; the new Union was in crisis, talk of a split or a civil war was everywhere. The symbols and language of the Revolution were still prominent, such as "freedom" "liberty or death" "all men are created equal", etc.
So in reading about this failed insurrection, especially its aftermath, I found myself thinking about it from both perspectives. I think that if violent armed invaders were going to march on a major city, I would want them captured and those involved punished as well. So on that point, I think the white Virginians were right. And yet the black rebels were right, too -- the system was extremely unfair (to put it mildly) and they have an right, an unalienable right if you will, to call for better treatment.
I really wish that we had had an opportunity to discuss the book in class, but we didn't. What do you guys think? Who was right? Is there one right side?
(oh my gosh I hate analyzing history this way -- "should haves" but I want to discuss this with somebody)