Nat Turner: Man Who Led A Rebellion Of Enslaved People

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“Though it is a painful fact that most Negroes are hopelessly docile, many of them are filled with fury, and the unctuous coating of flattery which surrounds and encases that fury is but a form of self-preservation” (Styron, 1967). Nat Turner stood for a cause far greater by organizing and leading a rebellion that would cause mass panic amongst the common white folks, and also present ascendancy during the year of 1831. Through Nat Turner standing up for what he believed was God calling to him to take a stand, to Nat Turner’s execution in the rebellion, Nat Turner showed why his brothers and sisters of color should stand with him and evince not to give up hope.

Nat Turner was born into slavery on October 2, 1800. Nat’s father was believed to have run from the plantation when he was at a very young age while Nancy, his mother, was a household slave for their owners. The plantation on which Nat Turner was born was once owned by a man named Benjamin Turner in Southampton County, Virginia. Growing up, Nat Turner showed very uncommon caliber and was given the opportunity by his owner to learn how to read and write. In 1810, Benjamin Turner died, and Nat was passed down to his oldest son, this being Samuel Turner. Under given consent, Nat Turner used every opportunity he could grasp to expand his knowledge and, most importantly, his religion. He became very engrossed by religion so much to the point of him reading the Bible, and even studying the books pertaining to the Old Testament. This being said, lead to the point that he grew into manhood almost living by the words of the prophets. As he grew, he became more confused about why he was a slave and not a freedman. He believed he held more knowledge than a vast majority of freed slaves that he had witnessed. Though, no matter how true this was, he was still seen as a slave despite what he thought. Undeterred, Nat Turner continued expanding his strength and knowledge on his faith. Turner once said, “Having soon discovered to be great, I must appear so, and therefore studiously avoided mixing in society, and wrapped myself in mystery, devoting myself to fasting and prayer.” Nat Turner soon would become a preacher and would begin giving preaches to nearby slave owner’s slaves as seen in the movie “The Birth of a Nation” by Nate Parker. In this movie, Nat Turner was seen traveling with Samuel Turner, his owner, to preach and subdue those slaves that were seen as unruly. Samuel’s main reasoning in doing this is due to being financially strained and he saw how much he was to profit from Nat Turner's preaching. When Nat traveled to preach to his fellow brothers and sisters, did he see how terribly they were being treated? Seeing countless atrocities against him and his fellow slaves made him want to do stand up for what he believed was right. Though there is no evidence that in this movie this actually is a true event that happened, it still signified what Nat Turner believed was his mission and was his calling from God himself. Throughout Nat Turner's preaching, did he feel as if God was trying to contact him through his dreams? Sometimes hearing things such as, “Seek ye the kingdom of Heaven,” the Spirit told him, “and all things shall be added unto you.”. He begin believing the things being told to him, trying to also understand exactly what each and every dream really meant. As Turner strengthen his preaching skill, did it give him a more recognizable character in his county and making it easier for him to know most of Southampton County immediately. This being said, giving him more considerable freedom of movement.

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Sometime around 1821, Nat Turner ended up running away from his plantation for about thirty days. This is because his master supposedly put him over an overseer who may have whipped Nat and punished him, making him desire his freedom. Though he was able to successfully escape, did he return back? His fellow slaves were nonplussed with his voluntarily returning despite the consequences that may have followed. This being said, Nat did reply by saying “And the negroes found fault, and murmured against me,” Turner recounted later, “saying that if they had my sense they would not serve any master in the world.” This all being said, Nat Turner didn’t see himself working for a righteous or earthly master in his mind. No not at all, instead he saw himself working for Jehovah, who was the angry and vengeful God of Israel. Later on, Nat Turner allegedly got married to a woman whose name was Cherry. In the movie, Nat is seen trying to convince Samuel to buy her, stating that she would be a strong and very valuable woman. She was first very against wanting to live on the plantation and wanting to run away but after meeting Nat, they fell in love and got married. Though, this was never seen as a legitimate marriage marriages between slaves were never accounted for, unlike those between freedmen and whites. After getting married, Samuel Turner ended up dying in 1822, therefore, Nat Turner and Cherry were sold off to different plantations. Cherry ended up being sold off to a man named Giles Reese and Nat Turner was sod off to Thomas Moore. They were able to see each other from time to time, but it still caused both of them tremendous pain and signified the affliction that came along with living as a slave.

Nat Turner perennially saw how white people treated men and women of color. Slaves owners acting as with complete, and udder, benevolence. This being said, breaking up families, selling off Negroes to whip-happy type masters, and even denying education to men and women of color because they felt as if it wasn’t necessary for them to retain knowledge.

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