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It was written in a way that was very easy to understand which made the book that much better. Dates also made sure to reveal to his readers who the mysterious Nat Turner really was. Dates was also the author of the books With Malice Toward None which won the Christopher Award and Let the Trumpet Sound which also won the Christopher Award and the Robert F.
Kennedy Memorial Book Award. In this book, Dates vividly reenacted the events that fueled Gnat’s mindset, the events that took place during Nat Turners rebellion, and the effects that it had after.
Dates began with an extremely thorough biography of Nat Turner who was born on October 2nd, 1 800 in Southampton County, Virginia. As a child, everyone who met Nat knew that he was a special, for he was very intelligent, religious, literate, and was also believed to be a prophet by many of his fellow slaves.
Gnat’s intelligence was praised by his first master, Benjamin Turner, but not by his son, Samuel Turner, who became Ants new owner after Benjamin had passed and he did not appreciate his intelligence as much.
It was also during this time that Nat first began slave work at the age of twelve under Samuel Turner. This was also the first time that he recognized that he was a slave even though he had been led to believe by whites and blacks alike that e would be freed one day because he was so smart.
This event in Gnat’s life could have been first time he developed his resentment toward the white man. From that moment on, Nat performed the same bleak routine for many years.
This routine 1 included going to slave praise meetings every Sunday where Nat would listen to a different version of Christianity than what the white preachers told. This alternate version criticized slavery and tried to instigate the blacks into resisting it. These praise meetings could have had a great influence with Gnat’s resentment towards the white man as well Samuel Turner. These praise meetings also influenced Nat to begin his own ministering religious rants within the slave cabins which became very popular among them.
When Nat was twenty-one years old, he stated that he, “Having soon discovered to be great, I must appear so, and therefore studiously avoiding mixing in society, and wrapped myself in mystery, devoting myself to fasting and prayer. ” (pig. 27) In 1819, when the United States experienced a depression and Samuel Turner died, Elizabeth, Samuels wife, was forced to sell some of the slaves, as well as Nat Turner. Nat was fortunate enough to be able to stay in Southampton County and he was sold to one Thomas Moore.
Gnat’s new master was an ambitious man who hoped to make it big in his neighborhood. He was not a cruel master but he worked himself and his field hands very hard in an effort to achieve his dream. In the summer of 1825, Nat began to have visions that assured him adjustments Day was approaching. When the slaves heard of his visions, they were astonished, even though they expected to one day hear this news from the “prophet”. On the other hand, the white people did not pay much attention to Nat because for one, he was a slave, and two, he was not a certified preacher.
On May 12, 1828, Nat had the most significant vision of all. He recalled, “I heard a loud noise in the heavens and the Spirit instantly appeared to me and said the Serpent was 2 loosened, and Christ had laid down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I should take it on and fight against the Serpent, for the time was fast approaching when the first should be the last and the last should be the first. ” (pig. 41) This was the message from God that Nat had searched for.
All he had to do now was wait for a sign from God on when to begin. In February, 1831 Nat confided his plan for insurgence in four slaves whom he rusted, Hark, Nelson, Henry, and Sam. On Sunday August, 21 Gnat’s lieutenants, accompanied by Jack Reese and Will Francis, sat at Cabin Pond and awaited the prophet. When Nat arrived he assured them that they would “kill all the white people” that night. (pig. 67) Gnat’s Rebellion began at around am, Monday morning with their first attack to be the Travis house.
The insurgents killed all the members of the Travis family, including the Travis baby. After this, Dates recounts all the gruesome slaughters that took place during Gnat’s Rebellion including Elizabeth Turner, John Barrow, and the only arson that Nat killed throughout the entire insurgence, Margaret Whitehead The following day, Nat rode to the Blunt plantation to attempt to gain more followers but was shocked to find gunshots coming from the home when the arrived.
Nat decided to retreat to the forest because most of Gnat’s men had disappeared or were injured but once there, found the militia waiting for heir The militia viciously attacked the insurgents leaving the remainders of them scattered and three of them dead, including Will Francis. This finally caused the rebellion to subdue. Meanwhile the Southampton community was in a Tate of confusion and panic wondering why had their slaves rebelled and if they were still a threat? Many furious whites decided to take 3 matters into their own hands seek revenge On any black person they saw.
There was also a $500 reward for anyone who brought the prophet to the Southampton County Jail, which fueled the manhunt even more. Although many stories stated that Nat had fled the state, he had actually never left Southampton County. On October 3rd, Nat was finally captured by Benjamin Phipps, a farmer who happened to stumble upon Nat. The next day as Nat was being escorted to a Jerusalem Courthouse, he ironically kept his head led high then entire time in front of the large white crowd. In the courthouse, Nat stood before court justices, James Treatment and James W. Parker, who sought to question him.
In the interrogation, Nat stated that he was the man in charge of insurrection and omens that God had presented him to see. Although whites did not know how to react to Gnat’s interrogation many whites agreed that, “as perfect a state of fanatical delusion as ever wretched man suffered. ” (pig. 1 1 9) Thomas Gray, a defender of some of the other insurgents, wanted to interview Nat before his trial date. On Tuesday, November 3rd Gray went to interview Nat for three days and came up with the conclusion that even though he though Nat was engulfed with his religious fantasies he did not think of him as “ignorant or a coward. (pig. 12, On November 5th, Nays trial date, Nat was found guilty and on Friday, November 1 1 , Nat was hung. Southern whites desperately wanted to blame Gnat’s Rebellion the northern abolitionists but in reality, the North had no direct correlation with the insurgence. Southerners more specifically wanted( to link it to William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator and David Walker’s Appeal to he Colored Citizens of the World, no evidence exists that slaves ever got a chance to even know about these documents.