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Nat Turner: Hero Or Villain

America 1831 was the last time slavery had ended. Nat Turner, a 31 year-old slave considered genius by many, believed that he was prophetic and that god had planned for him revolt against the whites to end slavery. He joined with others to create a rebellion, which lasted only for a few weeks and resulted in the deaths or 55 to 65 children, men, and women. Many of the 55 -65 victims were also children. Turner is the subject of differing opinions throughout the centuries, decades, or centuries. Hero or villain? Are you a savior or a scourge? Is he crazy? He was said to have had visions about the rebellion just before he launched it. He might have been’mad.’ Perhaps slavery could do the same to someone. He could have been all three.

Nat Turner’s actions must be understood by placing yourself in the position of a slave during America’s 1400-1800s. You cannot offer a realistic perspective if you believe that women and men are “beasts”, killed and raped. It is important to understand the sequence of traumatizing events that led to the rebellion. In slavery, African Americans were forced into slavery by their slave owners for decades. They tortured, abused, and killed children, men, and women, every day of their lives. But when they rebelled, they became “madmen”. It is possible to believe that you have the right to kill family members, entire families. But, Nat Turner’s rebellion was a result of his beliefs. Turner was a slave born in Virginia, October 2, 1800. Slavery was still an issue, and more debate arose over the years. Nat Turner was a man who was deeply religious and believed in his Christian convictions. He also claimed that god sent him signals to rebel. Turner’s religious devotion developed over the next few years to the point that it became almost devotional. He would often claim that God had chosen him to free his slaves from slavery. Turner was spiritual leader in his twenties. His mother and grandmother believed he was chosen by God to do great feats. People often called him “The Prophet.” In 1820, Turner had visions that led him to believe God was telling him how to fight evil. Many Americans felt visions, or believed God spoke directly, during the Second Great Awakening. Nat Turner believes that God has destined him to a special purpose. He believed God had chosen Turner for a special purpose, but it was not the ordinary. Turner saw a solar eclipse as the sign he needed and started to plan for rebellion in February 1831. Turner and his friends noticed that the sun was turning blue-green on August 13. They considered this the “final sign” and began to rebel against the irrational institution.

His warriors were defeated by Nat Turner, but they sacrificed their lives to end a psychotic system that binds people. The historic rebellion in Southampton County was led by Nat Turner on 1831. After fighting for two days, the revolt was crushed by slave owners and pro-slavery militias. Many were killed, including some of the most fatalities of any slave rebellion in American history. Nat Turner clearly wanted to convey a message.

The institution of slavery for race in America was not rational. Turner’s campaign against injustice was not motivated by madness. Racism was an institution of mass madness that was supported by barbarous law. Prejudiced propaganda claimed that those who attacked slavery’s institution with weapons were “mentally unstable”. This excuse is fascinating because America’s treatment for slaves was among the most barbaric of psychotic barbarism. Slaves were tortured, beaten and even burned alive. They were also made to hate their bodies. Some slaves were hanged just for fun, but other times they were kept alive as “souvenirs”. Is that insane? Nat Turner was inspired to lead a slave rebellion that killed many pro-slavery whites.

Turner is a hero because he saw injustice in slavery, and sought to eradicate it. Slavery isn’t a unique problem in America or Turner. It was born from economic development and growth, as well as inequalities between social groups that are stronger and more powerful. Turner’s methods are barbaric, but not more than any other methods to create slavery. Turner’s actions resulted in innocent people being killed, but this is a small incident in human history and the history slavery. Turner was like all heroes. He had both strengths and weaknesses.

Whites, in particular, get caught up in the fact Nat and his comrades killed children and women to achieve freedom. People often overlook or forget the fact that Whites have brutally killed and raped, mutilated, and otherwise treated African-American children and women for centuries before Nat Turner. Nat was also a victim of the violence of slavery for most his life. He decided to take action. Nat may have simply been taking an advantage of the situation by taking one eye for another (one lives and dies by one’s sword). Even after considering all of the slave rebellions that occurred, African-Americans still killed a very small number of Whites. This is in contrast to the many thousands of Blacks who were murdered during slavery, reconstruction and even the civil rights movement.

Nat Turner isn’t a celebration for violence or vengeance. He is not a hypocrite for inciting violence. Nat Turner, a humble man in God’s eyes, sacrificed his life to help bring liberation to over two million slaves. His rebellion and story don’t only revolve around slavery. It also involves fighting against oppression and gaining freedom. Nat Turner’s holy war on slavery was the only just war. It was a just war for liberation.

Nat Turner is a man with conviction and courage.


  • tommyperry

    I'm Tommy Perry, a 55-year-old educational blogger who enjoys traveling. I've been writing about education since 2012, and I hope to continue doing so for as long as I can. I also enjoy cooking and spending time with family and friends.

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