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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Week 16 - Nat Turner: The Martyr

Danced with death

Violence is never the solution, except when it is. Pardon me for stating the obvious, but no one enjoys being enslaved. Throughout slavery’s long and diabolic arc, insurrections were a common occurrence. They were usually put down with extreme prejudice, but the fact that they continued apace laid bare the slave holders’ lie that slaves were content with their lot.

Nat Turner was the leader of one of the more successful slave revolts.  It was really only successful in the sense that they managed to gain a few weapons and fought valiantly for a while. The revolt did not last long and ultimately, the number of black casualties far outstripped those of whites. For a time, though, they managed to strike fear into the hearts of slave holders.  

In a lot of ways, Nat Turner remains an enigmatic and little-known figure. He was quite intelligent, having learned to read and write at a young age. He was intensely religious and an introspective person, yet he was not afraid to resort to violence. It shows the brutality of the system that forced his hand.
‘The Confessions of Nat Turner’ which was a series of interviews conducted with him while he was in jail awaiting execution, is his story in his own words. It certainly made for an interesting read. Ultimately, his story is but a tragic one.

Greatest Quote:
My grand mother, who was very religious, and to whom I was much attached — my master, who belonged to the church, and other religious persons who visited the house, and whom I often saw at prayers, noticing the singularity of my manners, I suppose, and my uncommon intelligence for a child, remarked I had too much sense to be raised – and if I was, I would never be of any service to any one – as a slave.

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