Gabriel's Conspiracy, The Reports * October 6, 1800
Extract of a letter from a Gentleman in Virginia, to his friend in New-York, dated September 21, 1800. --
[The editor having compared the Extract with the Original, vouches for its authenticity, and that it is from a source highly respectable.]
By this time you have no doubt, heard of the conspiracy formed in this country by the Negroes, which, but for the interposition of Providence, would have put the metropolis of the state, and even the state itself into their possession. A dreadful storm, with a deludge [sic] of rain, which carried away the bridges, and rendered the water courses every where impassable, prevented the execution of their plot. It was extensive and vast in its design. Nothing could have been better contrived.
The conspirators were to have seized on the magazine, the treasury, the mills, and the bridges across James River. They were to have entered the city of Richmond, in three places with fire and sword, and to have commenced an indisciminate [sic] slaughter--the French only excepted. They were then to have called on their fellow negroes, and the friends of humanity throughout the continent by proclamation, to rally round their standard. The magazine which was defenseless, would have supplied them with arms for many thousand men. The treasury would have given them money--the mills bread--and the bridge would have enabled them to let in their friends and keep out their enemies. Never was there a more propitious season for the accomplishment of their purpose. The country is covered with a rich harvest of Indian corn, the flocks and herds are every where fat in the fields, and the liberty and equality doctrine, (nonsensical, dangerous, and wicked as it is in this land of tyrants and slaves) is, for electioneering purposes, sounding and resounding through our valleys and mountains, in every direction.
The city of Richmond and the circumjacent counties are in arms and have been so for ten or twelve days past. The patrollers are doubled through the state, and the governor, impressed with the magnitude of danger, has appointed for himself 3 Aides-de-camp! A number of conspirators have been hung--and a great many more are yet to be hung. The trials and executions are going on day by day. Poor deluded wretches! Their democratic deluders conscious of their own guilt, and fearful of the public vengeance, are most active in bringing them to punishment. "Quid quid delitant Riges, plectuntur Archivi"?!
Two important facts have been established by the witnesses in their evidence on the different trials--first--that the plan of the plot was drawn by two Frenchmen in Richmond, and by them given to the Negro General (Gabriel) who is not yet caught and secondly--that in the meditated massacre, not one Frenchman was to be touched. It is moreover believed tho' not positively proved that a great many of our profligate and abandoned whites (who are distinguished by the burlesque appellation of democrats) are implicated with the blacks, and would have joined them if they had commenced their operations. The particulars of this horrible affair you will possibly see detailed in Davis's paper from Richmond; but certainly from Stewart's paper in the city of Washington. The jacobin printers and their friends are panic struck. Never was terror more strongly depicted in the countenance of men. They see, they feel the fatal mischiefs that their preposterous principles and ferocious party spirit have brought upon us.