Nat Turner's Confessions and Frederick Douglass' The Heroic Slave

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Nat Turner's Confessions and Frederick Douglass' The Heroic Slave The names of Nat Turner and Frederick Douglass are remembered because of the fame that they earned as black Americans during pre-Civil War slave period. However, their names color the pages of history books for widely different reasons: Nat Turner led one of the greatest slave revolts in almost 150 years of slavery, while Frederick Douglass obtained his freedom and education, going on to become a renowned speaker, author, and public leader. Nat Turner's insurrection in Southampton, Virginia in 1831 was a massacre of over sixty slaveholders and subsequently many slaves as Turner and his alliance of slaves joined together in protest of their enslavement. The story of the revolt, complete with its motives and facts, is recorded in a published document called Nat Turner's Confessions, written by a white lawyer upon interviewing Turner in prison after the insurrection. It is the most accurate and detailed document available on the revolt. Frederick Douglass, on the other hand, after gaining his freedom, published literary works that include his own narrative of his life and some short stories. One of his short stories is a fictional account of a slave revolt called The Heroic Slave. Although it is based on a real life slave revolt, Douglass' work is mostly literary creativity glorifying a strong black leader. By examining the non-fiction document on Turner's revolt and the fiction story written by Douglass, along with various aspects of the authors backgrounds, conditions under slavery, and education, this page compares and contrasts the fiction versus non-fiction characteristics of slave revolts. We only know about the childhoods of Douglass and Turner through a... ... middle of paper ... ... a white man, I would have followed willingly and gladly in any honorable enterprise. Our difference of color was the only ground for difference of action." (The Heroic Slave-77) This reveals to the reader the importance to the white mans, the idea of being white and of racial purity. Although this man reveals that Madison was a smart and admirable man, he can not respect him because he is black. References Douglass, Frederick. The Heroic Slave. In Violence In the Black Imagination. Ed, Ronald T. Takaki. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Greenberg, Kenneth S., ed.The Confessions Of Nat Turner. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996. Sale, Maggie. "To Make The Past Useful: Frederick Douglass' Politics of Solidarity." Arizona Quarterly 52.3 (Autumn 1995):25-60. Online. Internet. 12 Nov 1998. Available:

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