BLACK 🌍 HISTORY SPOTLIGHT : NAT TURNER
BY: LEON KWASI KUNTUO-ASARE
Nat Turner was born into slavery in Southampton County, Virginia on October 2, 1800.
Turner spent his whole life in Southampton County, Virginia, a area where slaves were the majority of the people living in the area. As a young kid he learned to read and write.
Turner was known to be an extremely religious man, who was known to fast, read the bible and pray. Known as the “Prophet” by fellow slaves, Turner performed baptist religious services for his brethren in bondage. Turner’s faith in the almighty was so intense, that he had visions that he considered to be messages from God, that he was ordained for some kind of holy mission.
Turner would soon start to believe that mission was for him to start a slave rebellion and free his people, like many biblical figures, he read about. Turner believed his rebellion would be the battle between God’s kingdom and the anti-kingdom.
In February 1831, Turner believed that some of the atmospheric conditions occurring at the time to be signs from God, telling him to prepare for rebellion against the slave owning white population.
On the 11th of February 1831, a solar eclipse occurred in Virginia, and Turner envisioned this as a black man reaching over the sun. Turner originally planned for his rebellion to be on the slave owning, white man’s independence of July 4, but illness forced him to delay, so he took the time to do more preparation with his co-conspirators.
On August 13, there was another solar eclipse,Turner believed this to be the final signal and a week later,on August 21, he and his co-conspirators would begin the slave uprising.
Turner’s first recruits were enslaved blacks from his area, Turner and his rebels went plantation to plantation, freeing enslaved blacks and killing their white masters. Over 70 free blacks would also join Turner’s rebellion. So that they did not alert anyone, the Turner rebels did not use firearms, instead they used blunt objects, knives, axes and hatchets to exterminate their white supremacist oppressors.
Turner’s rebellion killed approximately 60 white people, before a white militia was able to respond to the uprising. With the help of the federal government, the rebellion was quelled in two days.
Turner would evade capture for two months, by hiding in the woods. On October 30, Turner was discovered hiding in a covered hole, by Benjamin Phipps, a local farmer.
While awaiting trial, Turner would confess his knowledge of the slave uprising to his attorney Thomas Ruffin Gray.
On November 5, 1831 Turner was put on trial and convicted of “Conspiring to rebel and making insurrection “, he would be given the death sentence.
On November 11, in Jerusalem, Virginia, Turner would be skinned, beheaded and chopped up in many pieces, he would receive no formal burial. Many of his co-conspirators would receive a similar fate. In the end approximately 60 white people would die and 200 black people.
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