Nat Turner Slave Rebellion

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Even in the early years of the United States, resistance efforts took place in order to protest taxes, debt, and other issues. One of the largest groups of unfree people in the United States, the slaves, also performed their own acts of resistance in hopes of freedom. While ultimately none of them destroyed the system of slavery, they did have an impact, especially on white Southerners. Often, large scale slave rebellions were inspired by Christian sermons and meetings and small scale acts of individual slave resistance were motivated by a hope to achieve the popularized idea of American freedom. These actions of resistance caused fear among white Southerners, stricter slave codes, and the continuation of the abolitionist movement.
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Turner, a slave preacher, relied upon visions he had received from God to establish his plans. Turner described visions of “…white spirits and black spirits engaged in battle and the sun was darkened…” (Turner 214). As a result of this vision and others, Turner believed he had been specially chosen by God to lead the slaves in a rebellion. In fact, he claimed that the Spirit told him that “…Christ had laid down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I should take it on and fight against the Serpent…” (Turner 215). Turner spread these messages among the other slaves and “…they believed and said my wisdom came from God” (Turner 213). These visions from Turner led to another example of religiously inspired resistance. During his rebellion, he and his about eighty followers marched from farm to farm and killed all the whites (Foner 428). Turner’s Rebellion resulted in the introduction of new slave codes. For example, new laws in Virginia “…prohibited blacks, free or slave, from acting as preachers…” (Foner 429). This new slave law displays the fear this rebellion caused whites by prohibiting one of their common origins. While Turner’s Rebellion did lead to his and seventeen others’ death, it created internal stirrings throughout the South in the conversation about slaveholding, impacting society in …show more content…
Although the slaves knew no major breakdown of the system could occur as a result of their individual acts and risked fatal consequences, they still resisted to get closer to their dream of freedom. One common way was escaping, which threatened “…the stability of the slave system…,” as slaves often ran to larger communities of free blacks in the South or the North (Foner 424). For example, Josiah Henson ran away, trusting the North Star to “…guide my feet in the way of hope” (Henson 76). His act of resistance was inspired by the hope of a free future, which also encouraged resistance on the plantation. Many resisted by retaliating against the violence of their slaveholders. For example, in one situation, after a master’s wife became angry at a slave girl, she sent for the slave-driver to whip her (Parker 153). However, “when he came, the girl refused to be whipped…he beat her so badly that she was nearly killed…” (Parker 154). In this instance, although the slave-driver hurt the girl, there was resistance in her first refusing to be beaten. Another example from the narrative of Solomon Northup describes a situation when a slave girl denied the charges of misbehavior, causing her whipping by Northup (Northup 255). Northup only did so until “throwing down the whip, I declared I could punish her no more” (Northup 257). As a result, the girl was whipped more harshly. Both

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