The Confessions of Nat Turner

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Nat Turner was a slave who led a severe slave revolt that led to the death of fifty-seven whites including his own master Travis and his family. Thomas Gray, Turner's attorney, wrote the confessions of his clients (Waldrep & Bellesiles, 2006). Turner does not have a bias because he appreciates the fact that his master taught him a lot including how to read and write. However, because he was the master planner, he had to lead by example which meant killing his master first to prove his seriousness to end slavery.

This source can be trusted as truthful because it was written by Turner’s attorney and because of the client-attorney relationship, it can be believed as pure truth. Main arguments Turner makes in the source is the fact that the idea was borne sometimes back and it had to happen as he justifies his actions by quoting the scriptures (Waldrep & Bellesiles, 2006).


The historical context surrounding the Turner source is the high level of slavery that was practiced by whites especially the sufferings that the people of color underwent during the period.

The event that influenced the writing of the source was the capture of Turner and his accomplice whom they led in the killing of white people (Waldrep & Bellesiles, 2006).

The historical events that were happening at that time were the heightened slavery (Hammond, 2007).

The source influenced history by giving an account on how condemnation of slavery begun by the very slave and the extent to which it triggered the slaves themselves to act (Waldrep & Bellesiles, 2006).

Part A2


Douglass was a writer and a social reformer who condemned slavery through his prowess in writing.

Douglass life experience as a slave gave him the authority on the subject of slavery.

Some of the critical arguments that Douglass gives is that slavery cannot be justified by blaming it on the constitution. He believes that the lack of political goodwill is what encourages slavery. Douglass further posits that slavery still existed because America did not honor the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution which he was convinced that condemned corruption.


The source was a speech that Douglass read during the celebrations of the independence yet slavery was still practiced in America (Bean, 2009). There was no freedom to be celebrated when humans were sold like goods and were subjected to the discretion of their masters in the 1850s (Hammond, 2007). It is therefore apparent that slavery influenced the content of Douglass’ speech.


The two sources are similar because they were written at the height of slavery in America. They both condemn slavery and are trying to justify the significance of stopping it. The sources make readers understand the fact that slavery existed in the 1830s and 1850s and it was condemned by the oppressed in various ways (Hammond, 2007). Both Turner and Douglass got their primary education from their master's residences implying that at some point, some masters were kind enough to give their subjects education (Bean, 2009; Waldrep & Bellesiles, 2006).

However, the differences are on who wrote the sources. Turner's confessions were written by his attorney while Douglass wrote his speech (Bean, 2009; Waldrep & Bellesiles, 2006). Also, Turner’s source was written after he was captured and was a confession hence did not directly condemn slavery, instead, provided an account of what drove him to champion for the killings of the whites and the events that took place. On the other hand, Douglass observes that despite the freedom being celebrated by the Americans, slavery was still taking place and he condemned it by giving direction on how it should be dealt with (Bean, 2009). Turner was captured, and slavery was not condemned during his time while Douglass escaped from his masters, but slavery was still practiced.


Bean, J. J. (2009). Race and liberty in America: The essential reader. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, published in association with the Independent Institute.

Hammond, J. C. (2007). Slavery, freedom, and expansion in the early American West. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.

Waldrep, C., & Bellesiles, M. A. (2006). Documenting American violence: A sourcebook. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

November 24, 2023

History Literature

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Nat Turner

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