Nat Turner was born a slave on a plantation in Southampton, Virginia.
Nat Turner was very intelligent and learned to read and write easily. In spite of this, the three people who owned him never thought to use his intelligence or to give him the freedom to use this gift.
Nat Turner became very spiritual. He spent his time, even while working, in prayer. He preached at the Negro churches throughout Southampton County. He reported that God spoke to him in visions. Many people, black and white, believed that Nat Turner was a prophet.
Nat Turner reported that God had a mission for his life. He was to end slavery. But God did not tell Nat Turner how to do it.
After being sold to a third owner, Nat Turner interpreted signs in the sky to mean that God wanted him to act quickly.
Nat Turner gathered a few close friends. They had a big dinner in the woods and made plans.
Then Nat Turner and his friends went to the house of Nat's owners and killed all of the white people in the house. They then rode from one house nearby to another doing the same thing. Nat Turner's Rebellion had begun.
By morning, the area was on alert that Nat Turner and friends were in open rebellion. The rebels had by now grown to a group of about fifty slaves. A militia made up of slave owners and other white men met and captured the rebels.
The captured rebels and other slaves were rounded up. It was assumed they had joined the rebels, so they executed. Nat Turner hid out in the woods for several months before he was brought to trial. While he was in jail, he spoke to Robert Gray, his attorney, and gave a statement of what he had done.
Nat Turner was executed and his body mutilated in death.In addition to the 50-60 slaves who were captured and executed at the time of the rebellion about 200 other slaves were maimed, tortured or killed for showing sympathy for Nat Turner's attempt to end slavery.
In Nat Turner's Rebellion, 55 white men, women and children were killed. In retaliation some 250 slaves were executed or murdered.
Instead of ending slavery, Nat Turner's Rebellion was used as an excuse to treat slaves more harshly and to forbid their learning to read and write or learning about freedom. Even white people who opposed slavery were not allowed by law to speak about freedom for slaves. These harsh laws continued in force until the Civil War wiped out slavery.
Page created November 11 , 2008. Anne Pemberton. Updated Sat, Feb 11, 2012. AP.