Nat Turner's slave rebellion
|Nat Turner's Rebellion|
|Part of the origins of the American Civil War|
and North American slave revolts
1831 woodcut illustrating various stages of the rebellion
|Rebel slaves||Local white militias|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Nat Turner||Unknown, likely many|
|Casualties and losses|
|Approximately 160 killed or executed by militia and mobs||55–65 killed|
Nat Turner's Rebellion (also known as the Southampton Insurrection) was a rebellion of black slaves that took place in Southampton County, Virginia, in August 1831, led by Nat Turner. The rebels killed between 55 and 65 people, at least 51 of whom were white. The rebellion was put down within a few days, but Turner survived in hiding for more than two months afterwards. The rebellion was effectively suppressed at Belmont Plantation on the morning of August 23, 1831.
There was widespread fear in the aftermath, and militias organized in retaliation to the rebels. The state executed 56 slaves accused of being part of the rebellion, and many non-participant slaves were punished in the frenzy. Approximately 120 slaves and free blacks were killed by militias and mobs in the area. State legislatures passed new laws prohibiting education of slaves and free black people, restricting rights of assembly and other civil liberties for free black people, and requiring white ministers to be present at all worship services.
Discovery of Nat Turner (c. 1831–1876)
|Born||October 2, 1800|
|Died||November 11, 1831 (aged 31)|
Jerusalem, Virginia, U.S.
|Cause of death||Execution by hanging, drawing and quartering|
|Known for||Nat Turner's slave rebellion|
Nat Turner (October 2, 1800 – November 11, 1831) was an African-American enslaved preacher who led the four-day rebellion of enslaved and free black people in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831. Born into slavery on October 2, 1800, in Southampton County, Virginia, an area with more blacks than whites, Turner was recorded as "Nat" by Benjamin Turner, his family’s owner. When Benjamin Turner died in 1810, Nat was inherited as property by Benjamin's son Samuel Turner. For most of his life, he was known as "Nat", but after the 1831 rebellion, he was widely referred to as "Nat Turner". Turner knew little about the background of his father, who was believed to have escaped from slavery when Turner was a young boy. Turner spent his entire life in Southampton County, a plantation area where enslaved people comprised the majority of the population.
Turner learned how to read and write at a young age. He was identified as having "natural intelligence and quickness of apprehension, surpassed by few." He grew up deeply religious and was often seen fasting, praying, or immersed in reading the stories of the Bible. He frequently had visions which he interpreted as messages from God, and these visions influenced his life. He ran away at age 21 from Samuel Turner, his owner. He returned a month later after becoming delirious from hunger and receiving a vision which told him to "return to the service of my earthly master". He had his second vision in 1824 while working in the fields under a new owner, Thomas Moore. In it, "the Saviour was about to lay down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and the great day of judgment was at hand".
Turner often conducted services, preaching the Bible to his fellow enslaved people, who dubbed him "The Prophet". Turner garnered white followers such as Etheldred T. Brantley, whom Turner was credited with having convinced to "cease from his wickedness".
By the spring of 1828, Turner was convinced that he "was ordained for some great purpose in the hands of the Almighty". He "heard a loud noise in the heavens" while working in Moore’s fields on May 12, "and the Spirit instantly appeared to me and said the Serpent was loosened, and Christ had laid down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I should take it on and fight against the Serpent, for the time was fast approaching when the first should be last and the last should be first".
Joseph Dreis wrote: "In connecting this vision to the motivation for his rebellion, Turner makes it clear that he sees himself as participating in the confrontation between God's Kingdom and the anti-Kingdom that characterized his social-historical context." He was convinced that God had given him the task of "slay[ing] my enemies with their own weapons."
In 1830, Joseph Travis purchased Turner, and Turner later recalled that he was "a kind master" who had "placed the greatest confidence in" him. Turner eagerly anticipated God's signal to "slay my enemies with their own weapons". He witnessed a solar eclipse on February 12, 1831 and was convinced that it was the sign for which he was waiting, so he started preparations for an uprising against the slave owners of Southampton County by purchasing muskets. Turner said, "I communicated the great work laid out to do, to four in whom I had the greatest confidence," his fellow slaves, Henry, Hark, Nelson, and Sam.
After the rebellion, a reward notice described him as:
5 feet 6 or 8 inches [168–173 cm] high, weighs between 150 and 160 pounds [68–73 kg], rather "bright" [light-colored] complexion, but not a mulatto, broad shoulders, larger flat nose, large eyes, broad flat feet, rather knockneed, walks brisk and active, hair on the top of the head very thin, no beard, except on the upper lip and the top of the chin, a scar on one of his temples, also one on the back of his neck, a large knot on one of the bones of his right arm, near the wrist, produced by a blow.
Turner was hanged on November 11 in Jerusalem, Virginia.
In 2002, a skull said to have been Turner's was given to Richard G. Hatcher, the former mayor of Gary, Indiana, for the collection of a civil rights museum he planned to build there. In 2016, Hatcher returned the skull to two of Turner's descendants. Since receiving the skull, the family has temporarily placed it with the Smithsonian Institution, where DNA testing will be done to determine whether it is the authentic remains of Nat Turner. If the test renders positive results, the family plans to bury his remains next to his descendants.
Another skull said to have been Turner's was contributed to the College of Wooster in Ohio upon its incorporation in 1866. When the school's only academic building burned down in 1901, the skull was saved by Dr. H. N. Mateer. Visitors recalled seeing a certificate, signed by a physician in Southampton County in 1866, that attested to the authenticity of the skull. The skull was eventually misplaced.
Turner started with a few trusted fellow slaves. "All his initial recruits were other slaves from his neighborhood". The neighborhood men had to find ways to communicate their intentions without giving up their plot. Songs may have tipped the neighborhood members to movements. "It is believed that one of the ways Turner summoned fellow conspirators to the woods was through the use of particular songs."
Beginning in February 1831, Turner claimed certain atmospheric conditions as a sign to begin preparations for a rebellion against slaveowners. On February 12, 1831, an annular solar eclipse was visible in Virginia. He believed the eclipse to be a sign that it was time to revolt. Turner envisioned this as a black man's hand reaching over the sun.
Turner originally planned to begin the rebellion on July 4, Independence Day, 1831, but he had fallen ill and used the delay for additional planning with his co-conspirators. An atmospheric disturbance on August 13 made the sun appear bluish-green, possibly the result of lingering atmospheric debris from an eruption of Mount St. Helens in present-day Washington state; he took it as the final signal and began the rebellion a week later, on August 21. He started with several trusted fellow slaves, and ultimately gathered more than 70 enslaved and free blacks, some of whom were on horseback. The rebels traveled from house to house, freeing slaves and killing many of the white people whom they encountered.
Muskets and firearms were too difficult to collect and would gather unwanted attention, so the rebels used knives, hatchets, axes, and blunt instruments.[page needed] The rebellion did not discriminate by age or sex and members killed white men, women, and children. Nat Turner confessed to killing only one person, Margaret Whitehead, whom he killed with a blow from a fence post.[page needed]
Historian Stephen B. Oates states that Turner called on his group to "kill all the white people". A newspaper noted, "Turner declared that 'indiscriminate slaughter was not their intention after they attained a foothold, and was resorted to in the first instance to strike terror and alarm.'" The group spared a few homes "because Turner believed the poor white inhabitants 'thought no better of themselves than they did of negroes.'" The black rebels killed approximately 60 people before they were defeated by the state militia. Of the total killed, many were women and children. Eventually, the state militia infantry were able to defeat the insurrection with twice the manpower of the rebels, reinforced by three companies of artillery.
Turner also thought that revolutionary violence would serve to awaken the attitudes of whites to the reality of the inherent brutality in slave-holding. Turner later said that he wanted to spread "terror and alarm" among whites.
Within a day of the suppression of the rebellion, the local militia and three companies of artillery were joined by detachments of men from the USS Natchez and USS Warren, which were anchored in Norfolk, and militias from counties in Virginia and North Carolina surrounding Southampton. The state executed 56 black people, and militias killed at least 100 more. Another estimate was that 120 blacks were killed, most of whom were not involved with the rebellion.
Rumors quickly spread among that the slave revolt was not limited to Southampton and that it had spread as far south as Alabama. Fears led to reports in North Carolina that "armies" of slaves were seen on highways, and that they had burned and massacred the white inhabitants of Wilmington, North Carolina, and were marching on the state capital. Such fear and alarm led to whites' attacking blacks throughout the South with flimsy cause; the editor of the Richmond Whig described the scene as "the slaughter of many blacks without trial and under circumstances of great barbarity". The white violence against the black people continued two weeks after the rebellion had been suppressed. General Eppes ordered troops and white citizens to stop the killing:
He will not specify all the instances that he is bound to believe have occurred, but pass in silence what has happened, with the expression of his deepest sorrow, that any necessity should be supposed to have existed, to justify a single act of atrocity. But he feels himself bound to declare, and hereby announces to the troops and citizens, that no excuse will be allowed for any similar acts of violence, after the promulgation of this order.
Reverend G. W. Powell wrote a letter to the New York Evening Post stating that "many negroes are killed every day. The exact number will never be known." A company of militia from Hertford County, North Carolina, reportedly killed 40 blacks in one day and took $23 and a gold watch from the dead. Captain Solon Borland led a contingent from Murfreesboro, North Carolina, and he condemned the acts "because it was tantamount to theft from the white owners of the slaves". Blacks suspected of participating in the rebellion were beheaded by the militia, and "their severed heads were mounted on poles at crossroads as a grisly form of intimidation". A section of Virginia State Route 658 remains labeled as "Blackhead Signpost Road" in reference to these events.[full citation needed]
During the rebellion, Virginia legislators targeted free blacks with a colonization bill, which allocated new funding to remove them to Africa, and a police bill that denied free blacks trials by jury and made any free blacks convicted of a crime subject to sale into slavery and relocation.
Turner eluded capture for six weeks but remained in Southampton County. On October 30, a white farmer named Benjamin Phipps discovered him hidden among the local Nottoway people, in a depression in the earth, created by a large, fallen tree that was covered with fence rails. While awaiting trial, Turner confessed his knowledge of the rebellion to attorney Thomas Ruffin Gray, who compiled what he claimed was Turner's confession.
He was tried on November 5, 1831 for "conspiring to rebel and making insurrection"; he was convicted and sentenced to death. He was asked if he regretted what he had done, and he responded, "Was Christ not crucified?" He was hanged on November 11 in Jerusalem, Virginia, and his corpse was drawn and quartered.
Soon after Turner's execution, Thomas Ruffin Gray published The Confessions of Nat Turner. His book was derived partly from research Gray did while Turner was in hiding and partly from jailhouse conversations with Turner before trial. This work is the primary historical document regarding Nat Turner, but some historians believe Gray's portrayal of Turner is inaccurate.[how?][why?]
In the aftermath of the rebellion, dozens of suspected rebels were tried in courts called specifically for the purpose of hearing the cases against the slaves. Most of the trials took place in Southampton, but some were held in neighboring Sussex County plus a few in other counties. Most slaves were found guilty and many were then executed, while others were transported outside the state but not executed; 15 of the slaves tried in Southampton were acquitted. Of the 30 convicted, 18 were hanged while 12 were sold out of state. Of the five free blacks tried for participation in the insurrection, one was hanged while the others were acquitted.
The Virginia General Assembly debated the future of slavery the following spring. Some urged gradual emancipation, but after Virginia's leading intellectual, Thomas R. Dew, President of the College of William and Mary, published a pamphlet defending the wisdom and benevolence of slavery, and the folly of its abolition, the pro-slavery side prevailed. The General Assembly passed legislation making it unlawful to teach reading and writing to slaves, free blacks, or mulattoes, and restricting all blacks from holding religious meetings without the presence of a licensed white minister. Other slave-holding states in the South enacted similar laws restricting activities of slaves and free blacks. Across Virginia and other Southern states, legislators made criminal the possession of abolitionist publications by either whites or blacks.
Some free blacks chose to move their families north to obtain educations for their children. Some white people, such as teachers Thomas J. Jackson (later to be famous in the American Civil War as Gen. "Stonewall" Jackson) and Mary Smith Peake, and George H. Thomas (a future Union general who was a child at the time) violated the laws and taught slaves to read. Overall, the laws enacted in the aftermath of the Turner Rebellion enforced widespread illiteracy among slaves. As a result, most newly freed slaves and many free blacks in the South were illiterate at the end of the American Civil War.
Freedmen and Northerners considered the issue of education and helping former slaves gain literacy as one of the most critical in the postwar South. Consequently, many Northern religious organizations, former Union Army officers and soldiers, and wealthy philanthropists were inspired to create and fund schools for the betterment of African Americans in the South. Although Reconstruction legislatures passed authorization to establish public education for the first time in the South, a system of legal racial segregation was later imposed under Jim Crow laws.
The fear caused by Nat Turner's insurrection and the concerns raised in the emancipation debates that followed resulted in politicians and writers responding by defining slavery as a "positive good". Such authors included Thomas Roderick Dew, mentioned above. Other Southern writers began to promote a paternalistic ideal of improved Christian treatment of slaves, in part to avoid such rebellions. Dew and others believed that they were civilizing black people (who by this stage were mostly American-born) through slavery. The writings were collected in The pro-slavery argument, as maintained by the most distinguished writers of the southern states (1853).
The massacre of black people after the rebellion was typical of the pattern of white fears and overreaction to blacks fighting for their freedom; many innocent blacks were killed in revenge. African Americans have generally regarded Turner as a hero of resistance, who made slaveowners pay for the hardships they had caused so many Africans and African Americans.
James H. Harris, who has written extensively about the history of the black church, says that the revolt "marked the turning point in the black struggle for liberation." According to Harris, Turner believed that "only a cataclysmic act could convince the architects of a violent social order that violence begets violence."
In the period soon after the revolt, whites did not try to interpret Turner's motives and ideas. Antebellum slaveholding whites were shocked by the murders and had their fears of rebellions heightened; Turner's name became "a symbol of terrorism and violent retribution."
"In the opinion of many", Turner's revolt was related to linked with Wm. Lloyd Garrison's new abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, which began earlier in 1831. Mr. Garrison "would not be permitted to live long, ...he would be taken away, and no one be the wiser for it. ...[I]f Mr Garrison were to go to the South, he would be dispatched immediately, ...[an] opinion expressed by persons at the South, repeatedly."
Southern states tightened restrictions on both free and enslaved blacks, trying to get the free blacks to go somewhere else and keep the enslaved ones incommunicado by prohibiting teaching and severely restricting preaching. Military readiness was looked into: South Carolina built a series of arsenals to ensure weapons would be available. Northern states shared much the same feeling: a proposal to create a college for African Americans in New Haven was overwhelmingly rejected (see New Haven Excitement), and schools in New Hampshire and Connecticut were destroyed by group violence (see Noyes Academy and Canterbury Female Boarding School).
In an 1843 speech at the National Negro Convention, Henry Highland Garnet, a former slave and active abolitionist, described Nat Turner as "patriotic", saying that "future generations will remember him among the noble and brave." In 1861 Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a northern writer, praised Turner in a seminal article published in Atlantic Monthly. He described Turner as a man "who knew no book but the Bible, and that by heart who devoted himself soul and body to the cause of his race."
In the 21st century, writing after the September 11 attacks in the United States, William L. Andrews drew analogies between Turner and modern "religio-political terrorists". He suggested that the "spiritual logic" explicated in Confessions of Nat Turner warrants study as "a harbinger of the spiritualizing violence of today's jihads and crusades."
Legacy and honors
- In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Nat Turner as one of the 100 Greatest African Americans.
- In 2009, in Newark, New Jersey, the largest city-owned park to be built was named Nat Turner Park, in his honor. The facility cost $12 million in construction.
- In 2012, the small Bible that belonged to Turner was donated to the National Museum of African American History and Culture by the Person family of Southampton, Virginia.
In literature, film and music
- The Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown, a slave narrative by an escaped slave, refers to the rebellion. It is available here.
- Thomas R. Gray's 1831 pamphlet account, The Confessions of Nat Turner, based on his jailhouse interview with Turner, is available here..
- Harriet Beecher Stowe included a copy of Turner's Confessions as an appendix to her 1855 novel Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp. The title character is an escaped slave and religious zealot who aids fellow slave refugees and spends most of the novel plotting a slave rebellion. He is a composite of Nat Turner and Denmark Vesey.
- William Cooper Nell wrote an account of Turner in his history book The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, 1855.
- Harriet Ann Jacobs, also an escaped slave, refers to Turner's rebellios at some length in her 1861 narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.
- Robert Hayden, 'The Ballad of Nat Turner', in A Ballad of Remembrance, 1962, 1966.
- The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967), a novel by William Styron, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1968. It prompted much controversy, with some criticizing a white author writing about such an important black figure. Several critics described it as racist and "a deliberate attempt to steal the meaning of a man's life." These responses led to cultural discussions about how different peoples interpret the past and whether any one group has sole ownership of any portion.
- In response to Styron's novel, ten African-American writers published a collection of essays, Willian Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner: Ten Black Writers Respond (1968). The second edition was published in 1998 under the title The Second Crucifixion of Nat Turner.
- Nat Turner's Rebellion is featured in Episode 5 of the 1977 TV miniseries Roots. It is historically inaccurate, as the episode is set in 1841 and the revolt took place in 1831. It is also mentioned in the 2016 series.
- In Episode 1 in the 1985 television miniseries North and South Nat Turner and his uprsing are mentioned by the character Tillet Main.
- In 2007 cartoonist and comic book author Kyle Baker wrote a two-part comic book about Turner and his uprising, which was called Nat Turner.
- The Birth of a Nation, the 2016 film starring, produced and directed by Nate Parker, co-written with Jean McGianni Celestin, is about Turner's 1831 rebellion. This film, which also stars Gabrielle Union, was sold in January 2016 at the Sundance Film Festival for a record-breaking $17.5 million.
- In his song "How Great," Chance The Rapper makes reference to Turner's rebellion in the line, "Hosanna Santa invoked and woke up slaves from Southampton to Chatham Manor."
- In the early 1990s, hip hop artist Tupac Shakur spoke in interviews about Nat Turner and his admiration for his spirit against oppression. Shakur also honored Turner with a cross tattoo on his back "EXODUS 1831" – which is a reference to 1831 – the year Turner led the slave rebellion. The word 'Exodus' is Greek for 'departure'.
- Nat Turner is honored in numerous black history books including 100 Greatest African Americans by Molefi Kete Asante, Extraordinary Black Americans from Colonial to Contemporary Times by Susan Altman, and African Americans Voices Of Triumph: Perseverance.
- In 2018, the play Nat Turner in Jerusalem, by Nathan Alan Davis, was produced at the Forum Theatre (Washington, D.C.)
- History of slavery in the United States
- List of incidents of civil unrest in the United States
- The Birth of a Nation (2016 film)
- The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967 novel by William Styron)
- Abraham Lincoln
- Cherry Turner
- Denmark Vesey
- Dred Scott
- Dred Scott v. Sandford
- Harriet Tubman
- John Brown (abolitionist)
- List of slaves
- Breen, Patrick H. (2015). The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood: A New History of the Nat Turner Revolt. Oxford University Press. pp. 98, 231. ISBN 978-0199828005.
- Breen 2015, Chapter 9 and Allmendinger 2014, Appendix F are recent studies which review various estimates for the number of enslaved and free black people killed without trial, giving a range of from 23 killed to over 200 killed; Breen notes on page 231 that "high estimates have been widely accepted in both academic and popular sources".
- Frederic D. Schwarz Archived December 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine "1831: Nat Turner's Rebellion," American Heritage, August/September 2006.
- "Nat Turner – Black History". History.com. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
- Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission Staff (July 1973). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Belmont" (PDF). Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
- Gray-White, Deborah; Bay, Mia; Martin Jr, Waldo E. (2013). Freedom on my mind: A History of African Americans. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013. p. 225.
- T.R. Gray (1999) . "Nat Turner, 1800?–1831. The Confessions of Nat Turner, the Leader of the Late Insurrection in Southampton, Va". docsouth.unc.edu. Baltimore: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "CONFESSION" paragraph 2. Archived from the original on July 4, 2018. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
I was thirty-one years of age the 2d of October last [Nat reported in Nov 1831]
- Drewry, William Sydney (1900). The Southampton Insurrection. Washington, D.C.: The Neale Company. p. 108.
- Gray White, Deborah (2013). Freedom on My Mind: A History of African Americans. New York Bedford/St. Martin's. p. 225.
- Greenburg 2003, pp. 3–12. According to Greenburg, the trial transcript refers to him on the first mention as "Nat alias Nat Turner" and subsequently as "Nat". Thomas Ruffin Gray's The Confessions of Nat Turner, which purports to be Turner's confession and account of his life leading up the rebellion, was the most influential source of the name by which he is known, Greenburg writes.
- , Greenburg 2003, p. 18.
- Greenburg 2003, p. 278.
- Bisson, Terry (1988). Nat Turner: Slave Revolt Leader. p. 76. ISBN 1555466133.
- Aptheker (1993), p. 295.
- Gray (1831), p. 9.
- Gray (1831), p. 10.
- Gray, Thomas Ruffin (1831). The Confessions of Nat Turner, the Leader of the Late Insurrections in Southampton, Va. Baltimore, Maryland: Lucas & Deaver. pp. 7–9, 11.
- Gray (1831), p. 11.
- Dreis, Joseph (November 2014). "Nat Turner's Rebellion as a Process of Conversion: Towards a Deeper Understanding of the Christian Conversion Process". 12 (3): 231. Cite journal requires
- Description of Turner included in a $500 reward notice in the Washington National Intelligencer on September 24, 1831.
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- Francis Simkins and Charles Roland, A History of the South (New York: Alfred Knopf, 1971), 126; Philip Leigh The Confederacy at Flood Tide (Yardley, Pa.: Westholme Publishing, 2016), 193
- Oates, Stephen (October 1973). "Children of Darkness". American Heritage. 24 (6). Retrieved July 17, 2016.
- Richmond Enquirer, November 8, 1831, quoted in Aptheker, American Negro Slave Revolts, p. 299. Aptheker notes that the Enquirer was "hostile to the cause Turner espoused." p. 298.
- Aptheker (1993), p. 300.
- William L. Andrews; ed. Vincent L. Wimbush (2008). "7". Theorizing Scriptures: New Critical Orientations to a Cultural Phenomenon. Rutgers University Press. pp. 83–85. ISBN 9780813542041.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
- Aptheker, American Negro Slave Revolts, p. 301, citing the Huntsville, Alabama, Southern Advocate, October 15, 1831.
- Richmond Whig, September 3, 1831, quoted in Aptheker, American Negro Slave Revolts, p. 301.
- Richmond Enquirer, September 6, 1831, quoted in Aptheker, American Negro Slave Revolts, p. 301.
- New York Evening Post, September 5, 1831, quoted in Aptheker, American Negro Slave Revolts, p. 301.
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-  Archived November 11, 2017, at the Wayback Machine Southampton Co., VA, Court Minute Book 1830–1835, pp. 121–23
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- Some sources claim Turner was beheaded or decapitated; see: "Inside the Quest to Return Nat Turner's Skull to His Family". nationalgeographic.com. October 13, 2016 [Oct 7]. paragraph 7. Archived from the original on July 10, 2018. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
- French 2004, 278–79
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- Herbert Aptheker. American Negro Slave Revolts. 5th edition. New York, NY: International Publishers, 1983 (1943).
- Kim Warren, "Literacy and Liberation," Reviews in American History Volume 33, Number 4, December 2005, Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press
- Virginia Writers' Program, Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion, Richmond, VA: Virginia State Library, reprint, 1992. ISBN 0-88490-173-4.
|Library resources about |
Nat Turner's slave rebellion
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Nat Turner|
- Higginson, Thomas Wentwworth (August 1861). "Nat Turner's Insurrection". The Atlantic.
- Greenberg, Kenneth S., ed. (1996). The confessions of Nat Turner and related documents. Bedford Books. ISBN 0312160518.
- Digital Library on American Slavery, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 2015.
- Allmendinger, David F. Nat Turner and the Rising in Southampton County. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.
- Herbert Aptheker. American Negro Slave Revolts. 5th edition. New York: International Publishers, 1983 (1943).
- Herbert Aptheker. Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion. New York: Humanities Press, 1966.
- Patrick H. Breen. The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood: A New History of the Nat Turner Revolt. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.
- Brodhead, Richard H. "Millennium, Prophecy and the Energies of Social Transformation: The Case of Nat Turner." In Imagining the End: Visions of Apocalypse from the Ancient Middle East to Modern America, edited by A. Amanat and M. Bernhardsson. 212–33. London: I. B. Tauris, 2002.
- Alfred L. Brophy. " "The Nat Turner Trials" North Carolina Law Review (June 2013), volume 91: 1817–80.
- Patrick H. Breen. The Land Shall Be Deluged in Blood: A New History of the Nat Turner Revolt. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.
- Patrick H. Breen. "Nat Turner's Revolt: Rebellion and Response in Southampton County, Virginia Ph.D. dissertation, University of Georgia, 2005.
- Drewry, William Sydney. The Southampton Insurrection. Washington, D.C.: The Neale Company, 1900. Scot French. The Rebellious Slave: Nat Turner in American Memory. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. 2004.
- William Lloyd Garrison, "The Insurrection," The Liberator (September 3, 1831). A contemporary abolitionist's reaction to news of the rebellion.
- Walter L. Gordon III. The Nat Turner Insurrection Trials: A Mystic Chord Resonates Today (2009). ISBN 978-1-4392-2983-5.
- Thomas R. Gray, The Confessions of Nat Turner, the Leader of the Late Insurrections in Southampton, Va. Baltimore, MD: Lucas & Deaver, 1831. HTML edition at Project Gutenberg.
- Kenneth S. Greenberg, ed. Nat Turner: A Slave Rebellion in History and Memory. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
- William Stryon, The Confessions of Nat Turner. New York: Random House, 1993.
- Nat Turner Project: A Digital Archive of historical sources related to Nat Turner and the Southampton County slave revolt of 1831 Natturnerproject.org
- Kinohi Nishikawa. "The Confessions of Nat Turner." The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature. Ed. Emmanuel S. Nelson. 5 vols. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005. 497–98.
- Stephen B. Oates, The Fires of Jubilee: Nat Turner's Fierce Rebellion. New York: HarperPerennial, 1990 (1975). ISBN 0-06-091670-2.
- Junius P. Rodriguez, ed. Encyclopedia of Slave Resistance and Rebellion. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2006.
- Sharon Ewell Foster. The Resurrection of Nat Turner, Part One, The Witness, A Novel (2011). ISBN 978-1-4165-7803-1.
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:|
Nat Turner's slave rebellion
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Nat Turner's slave rebellion|
- Works by Nat Turner at Project Gutenberg
- Works by or about Nat Turner's slave rebellion at Internet Archive
- "The Confessions of Nat Turner, the Leader of the Late Insurrection in Southampton, Va." Baltimore: T. R. Gray, 1831. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1999.
- Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property. California Newsreel
- Nat Turner's Rebellion. Africans in America, PBS.org
- Jessica McElrath, Nat Turner's Rebellion. An article at the About.com saved by the Wayback Machine.
- Thomas Ruffin Gray, The Confessions of Nat Turner (1831) online edition.
- Nat Turner: Lightning Rod on the American Heritage website saved by the Wayback Machine.
- Interview with Sharon Ewell Foster regarding her recent research on Turner. The State of Things, North Carolina Public Radio, August 31, 2011.
- Nat Turner Unchained. An independent feature film about the Nat Turner revolt.
- Nat Turner: Following Faith. A play about Nat Turner.
- A Rebellion to Remember: Nat Turner. Documenting the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- The Nat Turner Project. A digital library of primary and secondary sources related to the Nat Turner Slave Rebellion.
- Nat Turner biography, part of the Africans in America series Website from PBS.
- "Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property"
- Digital Library on American Slavery
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