Nat (Nathaniel) Turner was a black American priest who led the Nat Turner Rebellion against slavery on the 21ST of August in 1831. This rebellion set off the massacre of approximately 200 black people and led to increased legislative oppression against the black which prohibited education, movement, and assembly of slaves. The Nat Turner Rebellion also abolished convictions that persisted in the religion until the Civil War in America from 1861 to 1865 (Letort, 2018).
According to well documented beliefs and philosophies, Nat turner was an iconic hero because he stood up for his people, and acted as their voice. He started a rebellion that let the white masters know that the slaves were neither too docile to fight back nor content with their enslaved lives. He is a great icon to date for his brave deeds.
Turner was born on a small plantation farm in Southampton County, Virginia which belonged to Benjamin Turner on the 2ND October 1800. His mother, Nancy, was a native African who passed on her passionate dislike for slavery to him: nothing was known of his father. Turner learned how to read, write, and studied religion at an early age with permission from Benjamin Turner, and according to (Drexler-Dreis, 2014), he had natural intelligence from a very young age. During his youth, turner was sold several times as a slave.
Turner is speculated to have married a woman, Cherry, who worked in a neighboring farm, and they had at least one known son, Reddick. They are said to have gotten married in the early 1820s while Turner worked on Samuel Turner’s farm. Nat had to get a pass from his master to go visit his family. From his youth, Turner was a very religious man and was constantly seen fasting and reading Bible stories (Hillman, 2005). He believed he was chosen by God to set his people free from bondage. He exerted influence on many slaves, who referred to him as ‘The prophet’. He believed that God used to send him visions telling him what to do. In 1831, a little while after he was sold to a craftsman Joseph Travis, there was a solar eclipse which Turner believed was a sign from God meaning it was time to strike and attack his enemies with their weapons. He had assembled some slaves into a gang. Together, they secured arms and horses from white people they had killed. It is said that they killed about fifty-five white masters, women, and children.
Nat Turner’s gang faced off a group of white mobs in some plantation near Jerusalem before the conflict finally dissolved into chaos. Approximately two hundred slaves and free black people were captured and slaughtered after the rebellion. Turner was able to run and hid for two months before he was captured, convicted, and hang. According to (Aptheker, 2012) was captured on 30TH October 1831, convicted by Lawyer Thomas R Gray where he pledged not guilty because he believed that whatever he was doing was God’s work and his sentence was passed on 11TH November 1831 when he was executed by hanging.
Turner was taken as a hero, a villain, and a religious fanatic over time. He became a great icon for the Black Power movement, although some people objected to his indiscriminate slaughter of men, women, and children. His legacy held that he destroyed the myth that slaves loved their lives or were too tame to take part in a violent rebellion. The rebellion, however, hardened the proslavery attitudes which is what led to the hardening of legislative rules against the black folk (Aptheker, 2012). Nat was a hero by all means even after leading the bloodiest rebellion in American history. He made a stand for his people and earned a place in history for fighting for his people’s freedom. He was also an influential priest who gave hope to those he ministered to.
Despite all his good and heroic deeds, Turner’s rebellion went overboard. His being a priest and leading in a movement that led to so many deaths was contrary to the values he must have been teaching his congregations. According to Baker (2015), his actions caused the lives of slaves to be harder after his death in the hands of the white masters. The rebellion is also speculated to have caused the civil war in America.
Aptheker, H. (2012). Nat Turner’s Slave Rebellion: Including the 1831″ Confessions”. Courier Corporation. Link: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=UsepDQzh0FkC&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=nat+turner%27s+capture&ots=Y3M9kiQDnF&sig=Mci0nlHc2T6QOvy6ZoTye07wTRw .
Baker, K. (2015). Nat Turner. Abrams. Link: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=iJj4BQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA10&dq=nat+turner%27s+baker+k+2015&ots=G9jQP-DWAW&sig=HtV5gNif7fFWxjHy17cOoAbsC8c.
Drexler-Dreis, J. (2014). Nat Turner’s Rebellion as a Process of Conversion. Black Theology: An International Journal, 12(3). Link: http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&profile=ehost&scope=site&authtype=crawler&jrnl=14769948&AN=99541255&h=RsURv8BMoR5MmTJ9JyfSh2kwi%2BFvF8NiS7dGq%2FF6ix0aXUkgRikRzd%2B9xcBgKY8gTszxULdIELXt1SwmPMH8MA%3D%3D&crl=c
Hillman, N. A. (2005). Between Black and White: the religious aftermath of Nat Turner’s rebellion. Link: https://scholarworks.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=6498&context=etd
Letort, D. (2018). The Birth of a Nation (Nate Parker, 2016): The Tale of Nat Turner’s Rebellion. Transatlantica. Revue d’études américaines. American Studies Journal, (1). Link: https://journals.openedition.org/transatlantica/12096
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