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Samuel Warner, Narrative on Nat Turner's Revolt, 1831


Nat Turner was born a slave in Southampton County, Virginia in 1800. Turner was a self-ordained prophet who masterminded the slave insurrection that occured in 1831. After the insurrection, Turner was eventually captured, tried, and executed on November 11, 1831. 

On August 23, 1831, Governor John Floyd received a note from the Southampton County postmaster stating "that an insurrection of the slaves in that county had taken place, that several families had been massacred and that it would take a considerable military force to put them down." At least fifty-five white people, many of them women and children, died before militiamen and armed volunteers converged on the region and put down the insurrection. Angry white vigilantes killed dozens of slaves and drove hundreds of free people of color into exile in the reign of terror that followed. Turner's revolt prompted a prolonged debate in the Virginia General Assembly. As a result of Turner's actions, Virginia's legislators enacted more laws to limit the activities of African Americans, both free and enslaved. The freedom of slaves to communicate and congregate was directly attacked. No one could assemble a group of African Americans to teach them reading or writing, nor could anyone be paid to teach a slave. Preaching by slaves and free blacks was forbidden.

Citation: Horrid Massacre in Virginia, Nat Turner's Rebellion, Page one In Authentic and Impartial Narrative of the Tragical Scene, By Samuel Warner, New York: Warner West, 1831, Accession F232.S7 W2, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.


Social Studies: VS.1, VS.7, USI.1, USI.9
Art: 4.18, 4.19, 5.18, 5.19,

Suggested Questions

Analyze: Take a close look at the images on the first page of this narrative by Samuel Warner. How do you think Warner felt about Turner's actions? How does he portray the revolt?


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