Nat Turner Confession

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Nat Turner is a black American who led a two-day rebellion in Southampton County in Virginia. He made first ever possible, an effective and sustained slave rebellion that consisted of seven men who recruited slaves (Patrick Breen, 2016). According to Gray Nat Turner is preserved fanatic than a practical liberator who insists that Holy Spirit has sent him visions and signs from heaven. Turner says “that I was ordained for some great purpose in the hands of the Almighty.” Thus this paper seeks to discuss Nat Turner confessions and his interpretations and how confession affects historical sources as viewed by historians.

            According to Gray, he describes Nat turner vision as complete fanatic according to the confessions he gave. Turner vision begins from a story of children from an intuition given by his mother and father of him being intended for the great purpose. Apart from that, he proclaims that Holy Spirit spoke to him like it to the prophets in the order days. (Gray, 2003) Nat Turner vision grows fonder by reverting to old memories of childhood for he had a great revelation when he arrived at man’s estate and made more sense of him being a slave where he directs his great intention to fulfill the purpose (Gray, 9).

Turner describes seeing black and white spirits engaging in the clash, sun darkening, thunder rolling in heavens as well as blood flowing like streams. After these events, Nat says Holy Ghost has revealed to him, and Christ’s blood has been shed in the world, and now he was coming back on earth as a form of dew. Thus, interpreting that the Redeemer was to lay a heavy load, he had accepted for the iniquities of men and the pronounced Day of Judgment was near. For which He called for baptizing in preparation. Later he proclaims hearing a loud voice from heaven saying that the serpent has loosened and Christ has laid yoke on him and he has to bore the sins of men thus he has to take the task and fight the serpent. (Greenberg, 2004)

Nat interprets as he should rise and prepare himself to slay his enemies with their weapons.  He saw as his duty to free his oppressors and accepted the duty that God waited for him to do through signals by witnessing a long day solar eclipse which was interpreted as a sing to free his people from bondage (Williams, 117) that led to arming of any weapon and his trusted friend. The revolt led to the slaying of about 60 whites at least ten men, 14 women, and 31 infants. (Gray, 10-20)

Using confession as historical sources pose great issues to historians. It is mostly referred to as oral sources. And oral sources possess great issues when it comes to utilization as a source of judgment. The value of confessions keeps changing from time to time due to variability in interpretation — increased biases which can be full of exaggerations, creativity and sometimes. It may consist of just factors that the confessor needs the people to hear. In such a case of Nat Turner basis his confession on Holy Spirit having ordained him for greatness.

Confessions lack the objectivity since some of the views and perspectives of the same event are not considered. Lastly, it serves the motives of the storyteller as seen in Nat Turner where he remains the sole storyteller among his group of slaves who were executed. Historians cannot take confessions at face value because most of the data is distorted and lacks consistency. The value of confessions keeps changing from time to time, and its interpretation can vary from different perspectives. Through this historians finds it hard to use it in any documentation and as evidence or source.

            Religion plays a great role in Nat Turner. It forms the basis of inspiration on himself since childhood. By the fact of his grandmother and his parents being religious and providing moral support on how he was ordained for greatness provides a great breeding ground for love of religion. Nat Turner way of interpreting things was based on the religious facts of revelations and spirit talking to him. To every situation, Nat finds strength from religion. And through this makes the rebellion active and slaves believe in him as the prophet. Terming it as a spiritual war. However, the Virginians view Nat Turner revolt as a vindictive ferocity. (Bryan, 2)

Nat Turner is not a prophet; it is an intuition created through religious feeding since childhood. Increased immerse in the knowledge of Holy Spirit and encouragements motivates Nat Turner. Having to interpret all the situation religiously does not put weight in being a prophet. I believe Turner is a murderer just trying to confess that Holy Spirit guided him. Turner is in a state of brainwash from religious readings and revelations and by him acting according to what Holy Ghost. It was an imagined spirit of prophecy with great abilities of persuasion among fellow slaves. (Williams, 140)

In conclusion, Nat Turner rebellions emerge to be one of the most effective rebellions at the time. Affected by African Christianity with all confessions backed up by religious grounds. Turner works on the imagined spirit of being great by taking the responsibility of freeing himself from the bondage of oppressors which lead to a rebellion. Religion forms a great background base on the rebellion, and its effective since most of his compatriots followed Turner not only as a liberator, but they say him as God sent a prophet to help them.

Works cited

Bryan Rommel-Ruiz-. Vindictive Ferocity: Virginia’s response to the Nat Turner Rebellion. Enemies of humanity. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. 2008: 60-64

Kenneth S Greenberg. Nat Turner: A Slave Rebellion in history and Memory. New York. Oxford university press. (2004)

Kenneth S. Greenberg. The confession of Nat Turner and related documents Nat Turner Rebellion. Retrieved (2003)

Patrick Breen. Revolt and repression: Reconsidering the Nat Turner Revolt. (2016)

Thomas R Gray. (1831) The confessions of Nat Turner, The leader of the Late Insurrections in Southampton Virginia. Deposited by Paul Royster, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. (2007). 7-27.

Williams Jakobi. Nat Turner: The complexity and Dynamic of his religious Background.  The University of Kentucky. The journal of pan African studies. (2012) 113- 148.

November 13, 2023


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