Candem Plot Lesson

Lesson plan on Candem Plot

The early fear of slave actions was fueled, moreover, by the threat that slave revolts might produce a replica of the Toussaint L’Ouverture revolution in Santo Domingo.  This anxiety placed a great pressure upon both the national and state governments of the Confederacy to divert a substantial proportion of the South’s war-making resources to maintain the social control of the plantation system.  The inability of the South to control slave labor while simultaneously fighting for independence undermined Confederate unity, limited the Confederacy’s ability to execute the war, and led to the decomposition of the plantation system itself.

This fear also affects the issue of how many slave actions there might have been.  For example, information and documents relating to the Second Creek event at Natchez are not readily available.  When authorities learned that slaves were plotting, they acted quickly and decisively by hanging every implicated: at least 27 African American were hanged.  The Confederate provost marshal at Natchez reported early in 1862 that 40 slaves had been hanged within a year for such activities.  Historians will never know the exact number of insurrections just before and during the Civil War, because state governments did not reimburse owners of slaves executed at the orders of the extralegal courts.  There was no official accounting because of the “vigilance committees” kept quiet, and no one involved shared information on the counting of the bodies.  Information regarding these important events only surfaced as owners began to inquire about compensation for the loss of their slaves.

So, it is these documents that reveal both the events and their substances.  Letters from southern wives to their husbands on the front lines would plead with them to return home as the slaves could no longer be controlled—the refused to work and became rebellious because of the war, event before emancipation.  It was in connection to the Second Creek insurrection of Natchez that one Southern soldier wrote from the battlefield saying that domestic danger “has set me to thinking where I could be of the most service to my Country, at home or in the army.

Questions teachers might want to direct students toward the documents:

1.         What were the unique characteristics inherent in American slave society that          prohibited the social and economic mobility of enslaved Africans, thus            contributing to rebellion?”

2.         Were there more revolts in the Colonial or post-Colonial periods?

3.         Which slaves rebelled: were they primarily field slaves, domestic slaves, or             skilled artisans?

4.         Were these rebellions all-male enterprises, or were women also involved?

5.         Did rebellious Africans originate predominately in one part of Africa?

6.         Were they recent immigrants or native-born Americans?

7.         Did African ethnicity plan a role?

8.         Who were the primary and secondary leaders of the revolts?

9.         How many slave revolts—such as John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, and the    Murrell Gang Incident in Mississippi—were led by Whites?