The rebellion was suppressed within two days, but Turner eluded capture by hiding in the woods until October 30, when he was discovered by a farmer named Benjamin Phipps, where he was hiding in a hole covered with fence rails. While awaiting his trial, Turner confessed his knowledge of the rebellion to attorney Thomas Ruffin Gray. On November 5, 1831, he was tried for “conspiring to rebel and making insurrection”, convicted and sentenced to death.
In the aftermath of the insurrection there were 45 slaves, including Turner, and five free blacks tried for insurrection and related crimes in Southampton. Of the 45 slaves tried, 15 were acquitted. Of the 30 convicted, 18 were hanged, while 12 were sold out of state. Of the five free blacks tried for participation in the insurrection, one was hanged, while the others were acquitted
In total, the state executed 56 blacks suspected of having been involved in the uprising.
Before Nat Turner’s Revolt, there was a small but ineffectual antislavery movement in Virginia, largely on account of economic trends that made slavery less profitable in the Old South in the 1820s and fears among whites of the rising number of blacks, especially in the Tidewater and Piedmont regions. The push for abolition in 1831 represented the interests of Herrenvolk democracy and white male suffrage. Enraged poor whites condemned the slave-owning aristocracy for endangering their families and retaining an unfair advantage in elections as a result of the 3/5 clause. Most of the movement’s members, including acting governor John Floyd, supported resettlement of blacks to Africa for these reasons. The enlightenment thinking of Virginia’s forefathers played little part in the Emancipation’s Debates of 1831-2. Considerations of white racial and moral purity also influenced many of these anti-slavery Virginians. These concerns illustrated that Virginia position towards slavery was no longer “apologetic”.
#VA Fears of uprisings polarized moderates and slave owners across the South.
Municipalities across the region instituted repressive policies against blacks. Rights were taken away from those who were free. The freedoms of all black people in Virginia were tightly curtailed. Socially, the uprising discouraged whites’ questioning the slave system from the perspective that such discussion might encourage similar slave revolts. Manumissions had decreased by 1810. The shift away from tobacco had made owning slaves in the Upper South an excess to the planters’ needs, so they started to hire out slaves. With the ending of the international slave trade, the invention of the cotton gin, and opening up of new territories in the Deep South, suddenly there was a growing market for the trading of slaves. Over the next decades, more than a million slaves would be transported to the Deep South in a forced migration as a result of the domestic slave trade.
THE NEGRO REVOLT IN SOUTHAMPTON, VIRGINIA–THE LEADER SPEAKS!
Daily National Intelligencer, Washington, DC
Monday, November 7, 1831
The news is confirmed that, “….the murderer, Nat Turner, has at last been taken and safely lodged in prison.” The historic report goes on to state, “The poor wretch, we learn, admits all that has been alleged against him–says that he has at no time been five miles from the scene of his atrocities; and that he has frequently wished to give himself up, but could never summon sufficient resolution!” (see scan for the entire report)
(Background: “Gen.” Nathaniel Turner (1800-1831), convinced that “visions” had called him to free his enslaved brothers and sisters, along with sixty or more slaves, indiscriminately massacred some sixty white men, women, and children, beginning with his own master. The state militia and other volunteers finally quelled the revolt and tracked down the slaves. Turner went into hiding and was not captured until October 30. From November 1-3, Turner was interviewed by his court-appointed attorney, Thomas R. Gray, who transcribed his notes into “Confessions” which served as a main source for the data on the rebellion. Nat and sixteen fellow slaves were tried and subsequently hanged on November 11.)
This superb DC newspaper is simply loaded with notices forRunaway Slaves, Slaves for Sale, and “Negroes Wanted.” It’s incredible to realize the slave trading that was an everyday occurrence in our Nation’s Capital!
Haki Kweli Shakur August Third Collective NAPLA NAIM 10-30-51ADM 16