Analysis: Children Of Darkness

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Analysis: Children of Darkness

Nat Turner's belief that he was a mystic, born for some great purpose; a spiritual savior, chosen to lead Black slaves to freedom, justified his bloody rebellion against slave owners in Virginia. His actions did not so much spring from the fact that members of his family had been beaten, separated or sold, but rather from his own deep sense of freedom spoken in the Bible. From the time Nat Turner was four-years-old, he had been recognized as intelligent, able to understand beyond his years. He continued to search for religious truth and began to have visions or signs of being called by God. By the time Nat Turner reached manhood, the path his life would take was clear; his destiny would be to bring his fellow slaves out of bondage.

Nat Turner was born to a life of slavery in Southampton County, Virginia, in 1800. The state of Virginia had some diverse reactions toward slavery. Stephen B. Oates writes in his article "Children of Darkness" that "By southern white standards, enlightened benevolence did exist in Southampton County- and it existed in the rest of the state, too" (Oates, "Children" 42). There were some schools established for slave children, and religious meetings were openly allowed. Governor John Floyd was against the institution of slavery. The Fires of Jubilee, a book describing Turner's rebellion, explains his feelings on the subject. "He wanted slavery to be gradually abolished in Virginia and all the blacks colonized somewhere else, leaving the Old Dominion an unadulterated white man's paradise" (Oates, Fires 64). The unrest among slaves in Virginia was more evident than in the deep South because they had been given a small taste of freedom through activities like school and religion, but no sign that slavery would be abolished appeared. Instead, the economy of Virginia was the most important discussion in every session of the legislature. According to Boorstin and Kelley's History of the United States, "Blacks in some southern states outnumbered the whites, and there was no way for state leaders to handle this situation except by keeping the blacks in slavery" (Boorstin and Kelley 194). Nat Turner would grow up with a sense of frustration, not being able to see the end to the terrible injustice of slavery.

The fact that young Nat Turner was not like other young slaves was fostered by his parents. The family lived and worked on the Turner farm.

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