Nat Turner’s Southampton Slave Revolt

Good Essays
Nat Turner was a man with a vision that would change America forever. His vision may

have not sounded right to the average person but to Nat Turner, he was on Earth to realize his vision.

Nat Turner is the most famous and most controversial slave rebel in American history, and he

remains a storm center of dispute("Fires of Jubilee" author Stephen B. Oates).

Nat Turner’s slave revolt may have not been the greatest way to solve the problem of slavery,

but it did open many people's eyes. Slavery was an accepted practice in society but it was not a

humane or kind thing. The cruel and unjust treatment by the slave masters in the 1800's led to Nat

Turner's slave revolt, which in turn led to the abolitionist movement.

Nat Turner was born on October 2, 1800 in the small town of Jerusalem in Southampton,

Virginia. Nat's mother Nancy was one of 400,000 native Africans brought to North America before

1808. While most of the Africans had come from West Africa, Nancy's was supposedly from in the

North's Nile River country("Fires of Jubilee"). Folk chroniclers say that slave traders or warlike

natives abducted Nancy when she was a teenager. She was thrust over to European slave traders

and crammed on a disease infested slave boat headed to the New World("Fires of Jubilee"). Nancy's

ship landed at Norfolk, Virginia around 1795. She then was herded more inland where slave traders

exhibited her at several slave auctions. Around 1799 Nancy was brought by Benjamin Turner and

her life on a plantation began. Not long after Nancy had arrived at the plantation, she married

another slave whose name is unknown("Fires of Jubilee"). Their union produced Nathaniel "Nat"

Turner. In Hebrew this name meant "the gift of God.” Nancy did not want to bring her young son

up as a slave so she tried to kill him. The slave owners punished Nancy for trying this and shackled

her for a lengthy period.

As Nancy watched Nat get a little older, she noticed that she had a special child. She was

extremely proud of her young son Nat. Nat was bright, and quick to learn and he stood out from the

rest of the children. In one instance, Nancy overheard a conversation Nat was having with some of

his playmates. He was telling them of a story that had taken place long before he had been born,

yet he told the story like he was there. Nancy asked young Nat "Did anyon...

... middle of paper ...

...rocess of abolishing slavery. The climax of the steps was President

Lincoln's "Emancipation Proclamation.” Nat Turner's slave revolt and the abolitionist movement

really helped bring an end to the cruel and unjust reality of slavery. Without the Nat Turner slave

revolt the abolitionist movement would have never come about. Some critics complain that the

revolt was very violent and unnecessary, but so was slavery. The slave revolt opened America’s

eyes to the ills of slavery and paved the way for less violent revolutions such as the Black Muslim

uprising and the Civil Rights non-violence movement.


1. Aptheker, Herbert; Nat Turner’s Slave Rebellion, Johnson and Williams Inc.,

New York, New York, 1921

2. Farina, Reggie; Nat Turner’s Rebellion, Snyder Publications, Chicago Publishing House,

Chicago, Illinois, 1963

3. Friedman, Jesse; Nat Turner: Prophet, Visionary, Slave Revolt leader, Adu publishing inc.,

New York, New York, 1892

4. Gray, Thomas R.; The Confessions of Nat Turner, Thomas R. Gray publishing, Lucas and

Denver printing, 1831

5. Oates, Stephen B.; Fires of Jubilee; Nobles, Turner and Smith, Los Angeles, California

Get Access