Virginia governor 'pardons' slave who led 'Gabriel's Rebellion'

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Gabriel Prosser, who was hanged for leading a failed slave revolt in 1800, has won a symbolic gubernatorial pardon. Prosser and 34 supporters were executed in Richmond on Aug. 30, 1800, after two slaves revealed the planned uprising in Richmond, known as Gabriel's Rebellion.

In his informal pardon, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said Prosser was motivated by 'his devotion to the ideals of the American revolution _ it was worth risking death to secure liberty.'

'Gabriel's cause _ the end of slavery and the furtherance of equality of all people _ has prevailed in the light of history,' Kaine said in a letter to the Virginia chapter of the NAACP, which sought the pardon.

'It is important to acknowledge that history favorably regards Gabriel's cause while consigning legions who sought to keep him and others in chains to be forgotten,' Kaine wrote.

Prosser promoted an uprising by thousands of slaves 31 years before the better-known Nat Turner insurrection in Southampton County.

Gabriel's Rebellion was snuffed by Gov. James Monroe, the future president, who was tipped by a slaveholder. Prosser and his followers were condemned to death and hanged.

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