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Nat Turner: A Slave In American History

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Nathanial Turner was a slave that lived from 1800 to 1831. According to legend, his mother was so determined not to subject him to a life of slavery that she tried to kill him as soon as he was born. She was tied to her bed and held away from him until she calmed down. After that brief moment, however, Nat’s mother lavished love and affection on him. While Nat was very young, his parents and grandmother searched his head and body for bumps and marks that were, in African religion and folklore, signs of prophecy. (Bisson, Terry pg.15) He knew he was meant for something, and this rebellion was it. He was the only slave to lead an effective slave revolt against whites. Nat Turner was the riskiest slave in American history.

He was born on the Virginia plantation of Benjamin Turner, who allowed him to be instructed in reading, writing, and religion. Sold three times in his childhood and hired out to John Travis in the 1820’s, he became a fiery preacher and leader of African-American slaves on Benjamin Turner’s plantation and in
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Everyone was captured … except me. I was hiding for a time span of about 6 to 8 weeks. Someone found me, rose their gun, and forced me to surrender.

I was thrown in Southampton County Jail until my trial approached. Before my trial, a man who described himself as a “historian,” named Thomas Gray came in my cell and asked me about my thought process and plans for my rebellion. I told him about everything. The signs that led me to begin the rebellion and my childhood prophecy. I told him all of the plantations I have been to and my all of the masters I have had. We talked for while about everyone my rebels killed and all of my rebels. The historian looked frightened as he spoke to me, but he wrote notes down about what I said, and recorded my words as I said them. “Do you find yourself mistaken?” the historian said to me about the rebellion. I replied, “Was Christ not crucified?” (Burnett,
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