The Life and Works of Nat Turner
Imagine being born into a tiny hut, having to work in a kitchen at age four, having no choices about anything, being beaten if you said one word about being free, and at age twelve, being forced to work in the fields for no money. Well, that's what being born a slave was like. The injustice of slavery pushed Nat Turner to want freedom for himself and even more for others. Nat Turner was a hero because he fought for freedom of others, not just himself, and he was willing to accept the high cost of losing his life in order to be a leader of other slaves and to fight to the end. Nat Turner inspired many other slaves of his time by showing that freedom was worth fighting and dying for. He also motivated other slaves through his leadership and his courage in standing up for what he believed in, even if it meant being hung. It was his desire for himself and for others to be free and the willingness to die for that freedom that drove Nat Turner to lead one of the biggest slave rebellions of his time. Nat Turner was born in 1800. His mother, Nancy Turner, had been captured from Africa and brought to Southampton County, Virginia to be sold to a white plantation owner in 1799. When Nat was still young, his parents searched his body for bumps or marks that were signs of prophecy according to an African folklore. Then he was told that his future was filled with amazing deeds, and his family decided that he was to become a Prophet. The slave system that surrounded Nat was one of the cruelest systems ever created. People were stolen from their homes in Africa and sold as slaves to European colonies in America. Nat lived with his mother, father, and step grandmother in a tiny hut. When Nat was eight or nine, his father ran away into freedom. Later in life, Nat Turner also ran away and managed to hide from the search parties for two weeks. While he was free, he realized that it was not destined for him to only get freedom for himself, but for all of the slaves to be free. So he went back and turned himself in to his owner. It took a lot of courage to be able to run away and be free, but then give up that freedom to help others. Nat Turner got married to Cherry Turner when he was 20, in 1820. A few years after they were married, they had 3 children, whose names are now forgotten. In 1822, soon after Nat and Cherry were married, Samuel Turner, their owner died, so all of his slaves were lined up along with the livestock and the farming tools to be auctioned off. Treated like animals, Nat was separated from his wife and children and sold. He was sold to one farmer, Thomas Moore, while the rest of his family was sold to another, Giles Reese. In 1825, Nat became a preacher, as a result of his deep faith in God, but Nat had another job as well. Nat Turner was actually starting to plan one of the biggest slave rebellions of all time. Being a preacher meant that he was able to walk freely around the neighborhood on Sundays so he could recruit followers for his rebellion. During the week, he would fast, pray and study the Bible while he wasn't working. On Sundays in church, Nat would tell slaves about his visions of black and white spirits fighting, and figures of blood drawn on the leaves. He also talked about the sin of men and that the "Day of Judgment was at hand." All of the slaves who listened to him knew what he meant by the Day of Judgment and by sin of men. They all knew that he was talking about fighting to be free. In 1828, a few years after he became a preacher, Nat began to actively recruit people for his rebellion. He would walk around the neighborhood as a preacher, getting to know everyone, blacks and whites. That way, Turner knew who was clever, and who wasn't, and who was trustworthy, and who would betray him to their masters. While Nat was planning, he was also waiting for a sign from God. The first sign came on May 12, 1828, and Nat Turner said, "The Spirit instantly appeared to me and said...
Bibliography: Bisson, Terry. Nat Turner, Slave Revolt Leader. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988
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