(CANADA and the UNITED STATES, 1814-46 – continued)

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The Nat Turner Rebellion

Nat Turner was a slave in Virginia. In 1821 at the age of 21 he ran away. He returned thirty days later after having had a vision. He believed that God had instructed him to return to the service of "his earthly master."

Turner was recognized by his fellow slaves as having godly gifts. He had another vision in 1824, and he had a third vision in 1828 which he described as a loud noise in the heaven, the Spirit appearing before him as a sign from heaven telling him to commence a great work. He believed that he had been instructed to prepare himself and to slay his enemies with their own weapons, and he spoke of Christ having laid down the yoke that he, Christ, had born for the sins of men.

In February 1831, Turner interpreted an eclipse of the sun as the sign that he had been promised. He laid plans for his rebellion with six other slaves, and on August 21 they slipped into the woods. That night they entered the home of Turner's master, the Travis family, and killed them.

In the coming days and nights, Turner and his associates went from house to house, killing the white people as they went, while being chased by a militia. The number of those rebelling with Turner had grown to forty. The militia captured the rebels, and on November 5 while in a county jail, Turner dictated his "confession" to a physician, Thomas R. Gray. Fifty-five white people had been killed, and the state of Virginia executed fifty-five blacks, including Nat Turner, who was hanged and skinned on November 11, 1831.


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