Nat Turner's Relgious Beliefs and their Influence on his Slave Insurrection

Nat Turner's Relgious Beliefs and their Influence on his Slave Insurrection

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Even almost 200 years after his death, Nat Turner remains one of the most intricate figures in American history. He and his rebellion have been the heart of many intense arguments, and many scholars have burned gallons on end of midnight oil exhausting resources in an attempt to get to know Mr. Turner. These valiant attempts at familiarizing themselves with this very influential man have left us with countless sources to study. In these sources, we can find several different explanations as to why Nat Turner launched this infamous rebellion. These explanations range as far as political to cultural, but I will argue until my death that Mr. Turner’s religious beliefs are what compelled him to plot this horrific uprising. I have compiled what I think are the best possible sources to defend my argument, and through this paper I will take you on a journey through my research. During this journey, I hope to enlighten you on Nat Turner’s religious background as well as how it contributed to the plotting of the Southampton slave insurrection.
The history of Nat Turners slave rebellion is undoubtedly enthralling to historians and literary masters alike. It took place on August 31, 1831 in Mr. Turner’s hometown of Southampton County, Virginia. Nat was 21 years old when he started the revolt, but he began plotting long before. Despite his young age, his people saw him as a man of deep religion and a prophet that would make great things happen for them. The murder of 60 white southerners should not be considered great, but the slaves of Southampton County knew that this rebellion would strike a fear in the eyes of slaveholders that they hoped would work to their advantage. Due to the fact that Mr. Turner felt his chosen religi...

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...for rebellion. I find it hard to believe that a slave who had been treated so poorly would willingly return to a master who was responsible for his poor quality of life without an ulterior motive. Mr. Turner knew that if he did not return he would eventually be caught and arrested for running away, and that would mean he could not fulfill the purpose that he believed God intended him for.

Secondary Sources
Andrews, William. "The Confessions of Nat Turner: Memoir of a Martyr or Testament of a Terrorist?" In Theorizing Scriptures: New Critical Orientations to a Cultural Phenomenon, edited by Vincent Wimbush, 79- 87. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2008.

Primary Sources
Gray, Thomas. The Confessions of Nat Turner. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009. (accessed April 14, 2014).

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