Gabriel's Rebellion

"Gabriel, the day before" acrylic on birth plywood,
24" x 24", Ana Edwards, 2005
"No other State of the Union has thus found it necessary to protect is State-House by a permanent cordon of bayonets; indeed, the Constitution expressly prohibits to any State a standing army, however small. Yet there for sixty years has stood sentinel the "Public Guard" of Virginia, wearing the suicidal motto of that decaying Commonwealth, "Sic semper Tyrannis"; and when one asked the origin of the precaution, one learned that it was the lasting memorial of Gabriel's insurrection, the stern heritage of terror bequeathed by his defeat." Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "Gabriel's Defeat," The Atlantic Monthly, September 1862, p. 345 (337–345).

Gabriel's Rebellion and the "Burial Ground for Negroes" were the founding projects of the SGHRP. Since 2004 the story of Gabriel's Rebellion and its many legacies create contexts from which to understand the origins and evolution of Richmond, Virginia and the United States in its earliest years. 

The Story of Gabriel (downloadable file) by Phil Wilayto, Virginia Defenders

Gabriel's Rebellion: Rhetoric in an Age of Resistance (downloadable file) by Ana Edwards, Sacred Ground Project

(Hanged for leading a slave-revolt)

Black Gabriel, riding
To the gallow tree,
In this last hour
What do you see?

I see a thousand 
Thousand slaves
Rising up
from forgotten graves,
and their wounds drip flame
On slavery's ground,
And their chains shake Dixie
with a thunder sound.

Gabriel, Gabriel
The end is nigh,
What is your wish
Before you die?

That rebellion suckle 
The slave-mother's beast
And black men
Never, never rest. 

Till slavery's pillars
Lie splintered in dust
And slavery's chains
Lie eaten with rush.



"Prosser's Gabriel"
Tim Barry, Richmond VA 

"Rise Up, Rise Up, Fight for your Liberty"
Nancy Rives, Teacher, St. Gertrude's High School


  • Gabriel's Rebellion: A Document History by Philip Schwarz, 2012
  • Death or Liberty by Douglas Egerton, 2012
  • Whispers of Rebellion by Michael Nicholls, 2012
  • Ploughshares into Swords: Race, Rebellion and Identity in Gabriel's Virginia by James Sidbury, 1997
  • Gabriel's Rebellion: The Virginia Slave Conspiracies of 1800 and 1802 by Douglas Egerton, 1993
  • American Negro Slave Revolts by Herbert Aptheker, 1943

  • Come August, Come Freedom: The Bellows, The Gallows and The Black General Gabriel by Gigi Amateau, 2012
  • Black Thunder by Arna Bontemps, 1937


A Northern Virginia Community College produced a film, an organized passion project, ‘Gabriel’s Revolt’ that spanned over eight years was fueled by the dedication and commitment of the faculty and students here at the college. This historically accurate timepiece was shot at all the original sites where the protagonist visited centuries ago. 

Forging Freedom: The Story of Gabriel's Rebellion
Henrico County Public Relations & Media