Nat Turner’s Slave Uprising Left Complex Legacy
A string of recent events has brought the leader of an 1831 slave rebellion back into the news.
Nat Turner was an African-American slave preacher in Virginia who led the bloodiest slave rebellion in American history.
In the 185 years that followed the rebellion, Turner’s place in history has been reinterpreted, revised, maximized, and minimized. His legacy is still debated, and even more so today, with Turner’s Bible now on display in the new National Museum of African American History and Culture and the release of the feature film The Birth of a Nation, chronicling Turner’s life and revolt.
On August 21, 1831, Turner led a small army that used axes, hatchets, knives, and muskets to kill 55 white Virginians. By August 23, the revolt was suppressed and his followers were apprehended. Turner escaped and hid in the