Gabriel, a slave owned by tobacco planter Thomas Prosser, plotted a major slave revolt in Virginia, but the rebellion was thwarted by bad weather and informants. Gabriel and many of his co-conspirators were executed, while others were sold.
American and French forces under General Lafayette attacked the British at Yorktown, Virginia. It was the last major battle of the Revolution. On October 17, 1781, British general Charles Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington.
John Brown, with allies including five black men, led an armed abolitionist raid on the Harpers Ferry arsenal in Virginia. Two days later the US Army, led by Colonel Robert E. Lee, stormed Harpers Ferry and captured Brown.
Virginia became the first colony to establish a comprehensive slave code. The code asserted that slaves were real estate, declared “thirty lashes” the punishment for any slave or person of color who assaulted a white person, prohibited slaves from bearing arms or moving without permission, and declared that any master who killed a slave in the course of “correction” would be “acquitt[ed] of all punishment.”