The era of slavery was one of the most difficult periods in the United States. Many people worked long hours to get food, clothes, and almost did not have time to relax. Nat Turner had to overcome many challenges to begin a rebellion and to free people from slavery.
Nat Turner was born in 1800 on a Southampton County plantation. His mother Nancy who was an African was as a slave in the United States; however, there are no facts about his father. At that time, Nancy was afraid that her son would be a slave. Nevertheless, one of the masters taught Nat to read and write. In the childhood, Nat Turner discovered that he had a special talent and could tell what happened before he was even born, which considerably impressed his relatives. “Some even remarked that he ‘surely would be a prophet,’ according to his later confession. His mother and grandmother told Turner that he ‘was intended for some great purpose’” (Biography.com Editors, 2015). Furthermore, he was very religious and liked to read the Bible and pray.
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Nat Turner worked on different plantations but escaped from his owner’s brother in 1821 and hid in the wood. After a month of hiding, he returned to Turner’s plantation because he believed there was a sign from God. When Samuel Turner died, Nat became a slave of Thomas Moore, and after his death, he was a slave of his wife. Afterward, she married John Travis, and Nat started working on his plantation.
Turner’s experience was similar to slave’s life on southern plantations. Although he had freedom, the rights were limited. He had to work long and hard hours in the fields for food and clothing. However, he was an ecclesiastical leader and believed that God chose him to help people. Turner had visions and believed that God asked him to be ready to fight. Apparently, there was an unexpected purpose why God chose Nat Turner. In 1831, solar blackout appeared, and he considered it to be a sign to start the preparation to stage a rebellion. Thus, Nat asked a few slaves to join him, and they agreed. When the sun was colored green, they understood that it was a final sign from God. His goal was to overcome the problem of slavery, but he had to handle many challenges to do it.
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- Firstly, six slaves and Nat Turner decided to begin an attack. They planned to start moving from one plantation to another and murder people who supported slavery. Hereby, he began from his plantation and killed his owner. Afterward, they moved through the county, visited 11 plantations, killed fifty people, and inspired sixty to join them.
- Secondly, they moved to Jerusalem to destroy it and kill all residents. However, the first challenge was a heavily armed militia that stopped this company. In fact, there were three thousand members of the militia who had to suppress the rebellion. As a result, Nat Turner and other slaves understood that they could not win this battle, and many ran into the wood and swamps. The militia found and captured all slaves, but Nat Turner escaped. “Fifty-six blacks accused of participating in Nat Turner's rebellion were executed and more than 200 others were beaten by angry mobs or white militias” (History, 2015).
The second challenge was that Nat Turner had to hide in the wood of Southampton County during two month. However, finally, the militia captured him and convicted of rebellion. After that, they hanged Nat. Moreover, the state executed more than fifty other men. The militia terrorized African American inhabitants. The actions of the state frightened the white population since white mobs decided to kill even those Africa Americans who did not take part in the rebellion. As a result, they killed two or three hundred people.
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One more challenge was that the Governor ordered to stop the rebellion and to catch all participants of this process. Thus, he introduced new strict rules for slaves to limit their opportunities to rise.
- Finally, in North Carolina, the militia accused people who did not take part in the rebellion. Moreover, North Carolina passed a new law to limit rights of free people. While Nat Turner allowed slaves to circumscribe the rights of white people and to bring weapons, the new legislature banned white people to teach slaves how to read.
Nat Turner’s greatest contribution as a black American slave is preparation of the effective rebellion in U.S. history. “Nat Turner’s rebellion was one of the largest slave rebellions ever to take place in the United States, and it played a considerable role in the development of antebellum slave society” (Wood & Walbert, n.d.).
Turner’s image is multifaceted. Hereby, he is as a hero, religious fanatic and villain. Nat Turner became an important icon in the US history. Nat Turner remains a controversial figure. Moreover, Turner’s actions had an anti-slavery purpose, and he did everything to win this battle. However, the way that Nat Turner chose to overcome the problem of slavery is unacceptable. To be more precise, it was a war on terrorism. Turner was a hero of the resistance to slavers because he made owners pay them for appalling conditions. He and his family suffered a lot from their owners that is why he decided to stop it. Furthermore, it was immensely difficult to work long hours, and Nat Turner was one of that people who wanted to live better.
As a result, Nat had many motives for starting this battle, and God helped him to choose the right time. As a result, slave-holding whites were shocked that fifty slaves and he could kill them. His name was a symbol of terrorism and retribution, and his courage and desire to protect slaves helped him to do that. Thus, Nat Turner’s rebellion was one of the most effectual in America.
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For hundreds of years, the United States have exploited millions of men and women who could not do what they wanted because of the limited rights. As a result, the United States economically thrived. Therefore, people such as Nat Turner could catch a glimpse of freedom in their childhood. The slavery was an important aspect of the Southern life. The prevalence of slavery led to racial control. Blacks were busy serving masters so that they did not have time and money to rebel.
Slaves in Virginia had some freedoms, namely they could go to the church school. In fact, many owners were not very cruel with their slaves and allowed them to have some holidays and spend time with their family in the evenings. Virginia allowed slaves more freedoms than the Deep South. However, nobody in the county expected a rebellion.
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The abolition of slavery was always possible. However, since the economy was based on slavery, government could not end it. It is worth noting that Christian influence was quite significant, and people tried to justify the phenomenon of slavery. Thus, Nat Turner was under influence of Christianity when he saw some signs from God.
Southern people were afraid of rebellion and could not improve the situation. In other areas, slaves understood the injustice and revolts occurred. Religious righteousness and domination of white people were two main reasons for the rebellion of black people. Nat Turner started the uprising with the release of a few trusted servants. At that time, the rebels traveled from one family to another. Apparently, there were more than 70 enslaved and free blacks taking part in the rebellion. The rebels did not reveal their presence at the time of their attacks since they used different weapons except for firearms. Nat Turner confessed to the murder of the victim of the uprising Margaret Whitehead. Before the white militias could suppress the revolt, rebels murdered sixty people. However, they passed a few houses of the poor because Nat believed that they had similar life to theirs. Apparently, Turner thought that violence would reveal the real situation of the relationships in white slave-owning society, which was inherently cruel. Nat Turner wanted to show the horror and dismay among the white people.
“The main lesson whites learned from Nat Turner’s rebellion was ironically not the injustices of slavery, but the frightening possibilities of educated blacks” (Lacey, 2010). As a result, Nat Turner wanted not only to intimidate but also to show them the whites were not right. Their attitude to black people was very cruel, and it was a punishment for them.
In conclusion, during a rebellion, Nat Turner faced the problem of militia that did not give him the opportunity to continue the rebellion and kill people who thought that the slavery was an acceptable part of life. The government also forbade him to continue to kill people. However, he was sure that he could do it, and these challenges could not stop him. Thus, after a long rebellion, he was one of the most popular people in the United States who organized the most effective revolt. It was his greatest contribution because the most serious problem the United States faced was such an important aspect of life as slavery. People wanted to be free and spend their time with their families, but they could not do that because the government did not support them since slavery was economically useful. Nat Turner helped slaves to show that they would not obey such a harsh order and could assert their rights.