Nat Turner led one of the first and largest rebellions against slavery.
- Nat was born in 1800 in Virginia. His mother was a slave and it is believed that his father had escaped to freedom. When his owner died, he became property of the owner’s son.
- Most of the population in the area at that time were enslaved people.
- Nat was deeply religious. He said he had visions and talked with God. He said God would use him as an instrument to rescue his people.
- In the summer of 1831, Nat began planning a rebellion. He slowly and secretly gained support from other slaves living in the area.
- In August, 1831, the rebellion began. Nat and his men went from plantation to plantation, quietly killing every white man, woman, and child found there and freeing the slaves. The slaves joined him and they would continue to the next house. In all, Nat’s group killed about 60 people and freed 70 slaves.
- Troops soon restored order and captured many of the rebels. Nat hid in the woods, but was soon found, brought to trial and hung, along with 17 others.
- After the rebellion, white people were hysterical. Mobs killed at least 120 black people, many of whom did not participate in the rebellion.
- New laws restricted blacks’ freedom even more. They were not allowed to vote, assemble, or learn to read and write. A white minister had to attend any church service.
Questions and Answers
Question: Did Nat Turner’s rebellion do any good?
Answer: Many people believe that it helped change attitudes about slavery by showing that violence leads to more violence.
Watch a video about Nat Turner.