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Dr. Umar Johnson visits where Nat Turner was hanged

Short story of Nat Turner

Nat Turner     1800-1831

Nat Turner firmly believed that it was his calling from God to fight slavery.  People who knew Turner called him the "Black Prophet."  He could remember and recite long parts of the Bible.  As a child, some say he could talk about things that happened long before he was born.

Nat Turner was a very smart child.  he did not remember how he taught himself to read.  In his life story, he wrote that one day he was shown a book and he just instantly started spelling the names of different objects.  Nat's mother Nancy had been kidnapped from Africa.  So Nat Turner was born a slave.  He worked in the cotton and tobacco fields.  Nat Turner taught himself science, and he was very good with machines and tools.  

In 1828, Nat Turner had a vision, telling him that God wanted him to fight and end slavery.  Nat waited for a sign that would tell him when it was time to fight.  An eclipse of the sun happened in Feb 1831.  And, Nat Turner believed that this was a sign he was waiting for.  Nat planned his fight with five other slaves for six months.

The revolt against the slave owners started at about two in the morning on Monday August 22, 1831.  Nat and the other slaves killed five people at the home of his master, Joseph Travis.  Those slaves were joined by other slaves and went from house to house killing slave owners.  They were hoping to get to the county seat, so they could get more guns and bullets.  But they were stopped by hundreds of state soldiers, volunteer armies, and the police.  In all, they had killed about 60 slave owners in South Hampton County in southeast Virginia.  

Thirteen of the rebel slaves were captured and hanged right away.  Others were arrested, tried, and then executed.  Nat Turner and a few slaves had escaped and hid for about six weeks.  Turner was captured in South Hampton on October 30, 1831.  He was tried on November 5, 1831, and was hanged six days later.  His life story, "The Confessions of Nat Turner," was written while he was in jail.  It was published right after he was executed.

Nat Turner did not feel guilty for what he did.  He believed he was doing God's will.  However, in revenge, there were more terrible attacks on innocent blacks after Turner's revolt.  And, stricter rules were enforced on all the slaves.  As dreadful as Nat Turner's revolt was, it did assist in bringing about a quicker end to slavery in America.

Excerpt from A Gift of Heritage Historic Black Abolitionists

This is only a summary of the Great Nat Turner's Life