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Nat Turner, a Slave Preacher from Virginia led one of the most recognized Slave Rebellions in History.
An interesting component of the Nat Turner Revolt is the prominent role played by the Bible in the insurrection.
In October 1800, Nat Turner arrived as a Slave on the Benjamin Turner family plantation in Southampton County, Virginia. He learnt how to read at an early age and he would turn to the Bible as a means of understanding the world around him, particularly his situation as a Slave.
Nat Turner quickly became a Preacher amongst the Slaves on the Turner Plantation at first preaching that the Bible required Slaves to be obedient to their Masters.
Nevertheless, after a mystical experience captured in the‘ Confessions Of Nat Turner’ in which he reported to have seen drops of blood on corn like they were heavenly dew, he was sure that the Bible required him to unite oppressed Slaves to overthrow their Masters in order that they could secure their freedom.
On August 21, Nat Turner initiated his Rebellion with fellow Slaves beginning with the killing of the Turner family, the Masters of his own Plantation.
The rebellion spread throughout the Plantations and a minimum of fifty Plantation Owners were killed.
Nevertheless, by August 23, Plantation Owners had controlled the revolt, and nearly all his followers had been captured.
Turner escaped however, hiding in the woods for two weeks until he was discovered and arrested after his voluntary surrender.
He was tried, and sentenced to death for “conspiring to rebel and make insurrection.”
On November 11 he was hanged.
Nat Turner Rebellion Legacy
Turner’s story and legacy has recently been considered in the 2016 film Birth of a Nation which has an identical name to the 1915 original lionising the KKK after the loss of the South in the American Civil War.
In the final analysis, the Nat Turner Revolt can be interpreted as a story of Black Resistance to Slavery on the foundation of an ideology built on the Culture, idiom and metaphors of American Slave Owners represented by Christianity and the Bible, rather than an Afrocentric Spirituality like Voodoo which led to the successful Haitian Revolution.
In essence, it reflects how Slaves by this time had become more assimilated into American Culture compared to the earlier Slave Rebellion in Haiti in which the Slaves were able to organise around the memory of their own African Religion.
Compared to the Haitian Revolution, the Nat Turner Slave Revolt shows how the memory of Africa was becoming more distant to the African Slaves in America.
Check out both the Nat Turner Documentary below.