Liberty Writers Africa

The Story of Nat Turner, An African Slave, Whose Rebellion In 1831 Inspired The Civil War In America

In August of 1831, Nat Turner led the only successful slave rebellion in the United State’s history, which struck fear in the hearts and guts of the white Southerners.

He was born to an African mother on a not-so-big plantation in the southern country of Southampton, in Virginia.

He hated the white enslavers so much for the harsh conditions of slavery and saw himself as a savior, anointed by God to rescue his people from the bondage and sufferings of slavery.

In the early months of 1831, Turner saw the solar eclipse and took it as a symbol for the beginning of his revolution. On the of August 21, that same year, he and a small group of his followers killed the Travis family, who were their owners.

After killing the slave owners and freeing the slaves, they made their way towards the town of Jerusalem. They planned to invade and capture an armory, and also recruit more slaves as members of the revolution.

Turner’s group got to 75 blacks, and in rage for what they have suffered in slavery, went on a rampage and murders several white slave owners in a space of two days. The number of white people killed was said to reach 60.

Turner and his group were overwhelmed by state militia forces and armed resistance from local whites, just outside the town of Jerusalem.

Some of the slaves in Jerusalem, including innocent bystanders, were shot by the state militia forces and other armed white folks.

Nat Turner escaped the battle that day and spent six weeks in hiding and running, till he was captured, tried and then hanged.

Due to exaggerations of Turner’s rebellion, and death of the white people, anxiety sparked off in the entire South.

Many southern states called special emergency sessions of their legislature. This led to the strengthening of slave codes, which limited slave education, movement, and assembly.

The events emboldened the supporters of vicious slavery, and they claimed that Turner’s rebellion was evidence that “Africans were inherently inferior barbarians requiring an institution such as slavery to discipline them.”

These led to the continuous repression of African slaves all of the South. The continuous brutalization of the African slaves in the South would later strengthen anti-slavery sentiments in the North through the 1860s and also led to the tensions building up to the civil war.   

Nat Turner’s rebellion is testament to the braveness and resilience of the African spirit. His desire for freedom is a reflection of the aspirations of heroes such as Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X and many other African descended men and women who have stood up against European and American tyranny.

Turner’s quest to liberate his people is a lesson to us all today, in Africa and beyond, to keep up the fight and continuously reject draconian rule and suppression. We all must stand tall and fight for the betterment of our people and race.

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