1816 - Camden Conspiracy
The Camden attempt at insurrection occurred in 1816. The betrayal of the plot led the whites to believe that it had been in contemplation for a long time. The plan was to fire the "powder magazine," an old arsenal, thus attracting the attention of the white people to that part of the town while the negroes should assemble in another quarter, massacre the whites and burn the rest of the town. They had apparently, as was usually the case except in the Vesey instance, nothing further definitely in view. The date for the attempt was significantly set for July 4.
A faithful slave revealed the plot to his master who communicated with the governor. An officer of the militia was detailed to secure evidence of the plot, without if possible revealing the identity of the informing slave. By a shrewd move Col. Chestnut carried on a counter plot and in this way secured the details of the original plot. based on contemporary newspaper accounts, it appears that the local municipal authorities deserve more credit for dealing with the participants in the plot than the governor's message would seem to indicate, the latter leaving the impression that the chief executive directed all detective operations.
Seventeen were arrested, seven of whom were convicted after a trial before a court consisting of two magistrates and five freeholders. Five were executed; one was pardoned after all the plans for his execution had been completed; one was sentenced to one year's imprisonment or to be deported from the United States.
The informing slave was purchased by an act of the legislature appropriating $1,100 for the purpose and giving to the slave $50 per annum during his lifetime. This insurrectionary effort seems to have put Camden and the up-country on their guard, for the act of 1818 on the Camden patrol showed an increased interest and vigilance.
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