Guest Author - Vance Rowe
This article is a “You Be the Judge Article” about a murdering slave who some people thought of as a prophet. Was he a murderer or a prophet? You be the Judge.
Nat Turner was born into slavery in 1800 in Southampton County, Virginia. He grew up a very religious young man who was always “fasting and praying”. He was always a very intelligent young man and the people around him were very impressed with him. When he was about four years old, he was discovered by his mother to be some sort of prophet. She found this out when she overheard him talking to some other children about certain events that happened before he was born and there was no way he could have known about them. When his mother questioned him about it, she had no doubts that he had some kind of first hand knowledge about the events. When he reached adult hood, he became a preacher that no one doubted. Before the tragic events that unfolded in 1831, Nat had said he received three different prophetic visions from God.
One happened when he escaped from the overseer and spent thirty days in the woods until he received a vision that told him to return to his captors. The second vision came a few years later, after he was sold to the Thomas Moore family, when he was working the fields, he saw some mysterious lights in the sky and he also saw “drops of blood on the corn and thought it was Jesus returning to the earth.” Finally in 1831, there was an eclipse of the moon and thought this was the final sign from God to kill his owners and leave the plantation. The rebellion was set for the Fourth of July that year but had to be postponed until August due to Turner’s getting sick. On the fateful night in August, Turner, with six slaves behind him, went into the home of his owner and killed the family while they slept. He then stole a rifle from the owner and escaped the plantation with his “disciples” in tow.
Before a US Cavalry detachment was on their trail, Turner wound up killing more than fifty-five whites and his “discipleship” grew to almost sixty slaves helping him. During the militia’s hunt for them, they captured several of the slaves and hung about fifteen of them. Turner was found and captured about six weeks later. He was tried, found guilty and was hung and then skinned. Below this article is a link to his confession taken by a man named by Thomas Gray and is called: The Confessions of Nat Turner, the Leader of the Late Insurrection, in Southampton, VA.
Come to the Crime Forum and vote whether you think that Nat Turner was truly a prophet doing God’s work or was he just a crazed fanatic who wanted to be free from his bondage.