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Nat Turner and the Slave Revolt
West of Hampton Roads and just above the Virginia and North Carolina border, Southampton County was the site of the largest slave revolt in United States history. Known under a variety of names, some of the more common ones being Nat Turner's Revolt or the Southampton Insurrection, the revolt was the work of Nat Turner, a slave who, as a Baptist preacher had earned the right to journey to nearby plantations.
Turner admitted after the uprising that he had been well-treated by his master. He claimed that the revolt was the result of on-going visions, voices, and signals from God including a blueish color visible in the sun a week prior to the revolt and a solar eclipse earlier in the year. After eating dinner in the woods on the evening of Monday, August 21, Turner and 6 others went to the Travis Plantation (the home of Turner's current master) and killed the entire family of 5, including two children and an infant as they slept.
It was then observed that I must spill the first blood. On which, armed with a hatchet, and accompanied by Will, I entered my master's chamber, it being dark, I could not give a death blow, the hatchet glanced from his head, he sprang from the bed and called his wife, it was his last word, Will laid him dead, with a blow of his axe, and Mrs. Travis shared the same fate, as she lay in bed.
Leaving the Travis home, Turner and his followers struck other homes in the countryside, killing men, women and children. In bizarre rituals, bodies were mutilated and Turner anointed his followers with blood from the bodies. As he moved through the countryside he persuaded and coerced other slaves to join him. Reports of the numbers that actually joined range from 40 to 200, although Turner put the number at between 55 and 60 in his confession.
By Tuesday morning word had spread and armed bands of white militia scoured the area looking for the rebellious slaves. The brutality of the whites easily matched that of their counterparts as they tortured and killed blacks regardless of their guilt or innocence. That day white militia twice met the slaves in battle, Fifty-three slaves were brought to trial, twenty of whom were hung for their participation in the crimes.
Nat Turner avoided detection for two months, hiding out near the plantation of his former master. When he was finally captured, Southerners wanted to know if he had been inspired by the writings of Lloyd Garrison, particularly "Song, Supposed to be Sung by Slaves in Insurrection," which had been published a month earlier in The Liberator
According to his confession, Turner was betrayed by two slaves who had stumbled on his hiding place. After a two week chase, Benjamin Phipps caught him "under the top of a fallen tree." The following day Nat Turner "confessed" to his court-appointed attorney, Thomas Gray. At his trial on November 5, 1831, Nat Turner was sentanced to die by hanging for his role in the slave rebellion. On November 11 Turner was hung, his body mutilated and divided up amongst the crowd watching the hanging.
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Nat Turner and the Slave Revolt was added in 2005
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