This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for October 2, 2017: Sassafras

October 2, 2017: birthday: Nat Turner

It’s the birthday of Nat Turner, born a slave in Southampton County, Virginia (1800). He learned to read, studied the Bible diligently, and became a preacher who spoke of self-respect and justice, urging his fellow slaves to rebel against their condition of servitude. He believed he was divinely chosen to deliver them from bondage. In February of 1831, he took a solar eclipse as a sign from God that the time for revolt was at hand, and began to prepare, declaring, “I should arise and … slay my enemies with their own weapons.” Beginning on August 22, he and his followers killed between 55 and 65 white people in two days. On August 23, they fought and lost a battle with state and Federal troops. Turner escaped, but was captured on October 30. At his trial, he admitted to leading the rebellion but pleaded “not guilty.” He was executed on November 11.