Topics on Tap

The next Topics on Tap session will be Friday, October 14 at 5pm in Thomson House, Room 406.

Our speaker will be Melissa Gismondi, a MA Candidate in Early American History. After completing her BA in History at McGill, Melissa has now returned to McGill for her Masters. The lecture will involve “Slave Patrols, White Elites and Slave Insurrection in Charleston, 1800-1822.”

In 1820 a South Carolinian judge noted, “the Patrol Law ought to be considered as one of the safe guards of the people of South Carolina…as a security against insurrection; a danger of such a nature that it never can or ought to be lost sight of in the southern states.” Just two years later, another judge ruled on a patrol behaving badly. The issue of patrols “acting under the colour of authority” arose and Judge Nott lamented that if the problem persisted “we are subject to a state of things even worse than that against which they [patrols] were intended to afford us protection.”
Tentatively titled “Slave Patrols, White Elites and Slave Insurrection in Charleston, 1800-1822” Melissa’s thesis explores the policing of slavery and its relation to political and social changes within Charleston. These themes will be explored in relation to the 1822 Denmark Vesey insurrection, in which Vesey, a free black man, and over one hundred and thirty others were suspected of planning a slave uprising. Thirty five, including Vesey,were eventually hanged. The project looks at prior conflicts between slave patrols and slave owners and analyzes how these conflicts laid bare class and social tensions within the white population and may have encouraged rebellion among blacks.

Once again, all are welcome! Questions can be directed to emily.paskevics@mail.mcgill.ca, or tess.lanzarotta@mail.mcgill.ca

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