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by Mildred Europa Taylor, at 06:02 am, August 05, 2018, History

Inspiring fear and respect in the 1800s, Gullah Jack was the ‘little man who can’t be killed’

Gullah Jack --- Kentake Page

His role in the attempted Denmark Vesey slave revolt made him infamous to South Carolinians of the mid-1800s.

The Denmark Vesey slave revolt of 1822 was one of the most massive slave revolts ever planned, involving an estimated 9,000 slaves.

The plot was, however, uncovered two days before the arranged uprising, leading to the arrest of over 100 slaves with 35 being executed.

One of the slaves executed was an African-born conjurer named Gullah Jack Pritchard.

Purchased as a prisoner of war at Zanguebar (later Zaanzibar) on Africa’s eastern shores by Zephaniah Kinsley in the early nineteenth century, Gullah was described by Kingsley as a priest in his own country who often kept a small conjure bag with him always.

In 1806, Kingsley sold Gullah to South Carolinian Paul Pritchard, where he became a caulker in the Pritchard shipyard in Charleston, South Carolina.

In 1821, Denmark Vesey, a freed slave who would later hold meetings to organize what would have been the biggest slave revolt in U.S. history, recruited Gullah to be one of his lieutenants.

A man of small stature with a bushy beard of unkempt whiskers, Gullah, during this period, inspired both fear and respect in his fellow slaves due to his supposed powers that could manipulate the spirit realm.

“The little man who can’t be killed,” as the Blacks called him, was said to have skills in the use of herbs for medicine or poison and the ability to create powerful protective amulets against evil.

During the planned Denmark Vesey revolt, Gullah reportedly recruited his fellow enslaved blacks by promising them protection with the magic charms he distributed.

He instructed them to keep crab claws with them and to only eat parched cornmeal and a peanut butter-like mash before the rebellion.

These measures were to keep them from being wounded and protect them against any other harm and capture through supernatural means, according to accounts.

He is also said to have used his spiritual powers to terrify others into keeping silent about the planned uprising.

The Vesey revolt was planned by the slaves to protest the law that required South Carolina slaveholders to get approval from the state before they could free their slaves.

It was also motivated by the absence of slavery in Haiti, which resulted in the country calling for free black people from the U.S. to relocate to Haiti by giving them land.

But, according to historians, a loyal slave spilt the beans to his master days before the revolt happened, and Gullah, alongside over a 100 other slaves were arrested.

For his role in the insurrection, Gullah was hanged on July 12, 1822.

He has since been described as a man who was keen on risking his life to ensure freedom for both himself and his fellow enslaved blacks.

Gullah, to date, has become a household name in the Gullah or Geechee nation, who is greatly admired by many.

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