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In the months and years after the rebellion was suppressed, residents of Southampton and the surrounding counties moved on with their lives as best they could.


Two slaveholders, named John O. Donnelly and Edwin Gary, were tried in court for murdering a slave. Ultimately, they were acquitted.


One convicted insurrectionist from Sussex County, a slave named Boson, escaped sometime after his trial and successfully evaded authorities for over three years. In 1835, he was recaptured, and residents of Sussex involved with the case wrote to the governor, asking that Boson’s sentence be reduced to transportation out of the state.


The slaveholders who had come closest to the revolt used a variety of strategies to cope. Harriet Whitehead, whose family had been killed by the rebels while she hid in a closet, claimed to have turned to “stimulating medicines, drinks and the like” to deal with the trauma she had experienced. Nathaniel Francis, in the meantime, focused on property acquisition, including that of the evidently debilitated Harriet Whitehead. As the Census Records of 1840 show, others seemed to return to ways of making a living typical in antebellum Virginia - buying and selling slaves and consolidating their family’s property holdings through carefully chosen marriages.


After the revolt, many free African Americans from Southampton County emigrated to Liberia through the American Colonization Society. Ships with free black Southampton residents aboard sailed for Monrovia in January and June of 1832, as did the ship the Saluda in March of 1840.



Murder of a Slave

Trial of John O. Donnelly and Edwin Gray, March 20, 1832


Recapture of Convicted Rebel, Sussex County, 1835

James French letter to Gov. Floyd, no date

William W. letter to Gov. Floyd, Feb. 26

Sussex County residents to Gov. Floyd, Feb. 28

William W. to Gov. Floyd, Aug. 19


Census Records

Slaveholders, Selected Families, 1840

Free African Americans, Selected Families, 1840


Harriet Whitehead v. Nathaniel Francis

Deed of Whitehead property to Francis, 1843

Petition, Whitehead v. Francis, 1847


Defense Attorneys

Thomas R. Gray

James Strange French


Free Black Emigrants to Liberia

The James Perkins, January 1832

The Jupiter, June 1832

The Saluda, March 1840

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