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Nat Turner: A Man of

Courage and Wit

Nat Turner is by far one of the most well known slaves in American History. Most people know Nat Turner as the man responsible for a large slave revolt, which took place in August 1831. However, after reading and analyzing “The Confessions of Nat Turner and Other Related Documents,” one is able to get a better picture of Nat Turner himself. In my opinion, Turner has many significant characteristics that made him the man he was. Of these characteristics, his courage and wit were undoubtedly his most important traits. Without his courage, Nat Turner would never have done half the things he did and, without his knowledge, he never even could have conceived his plan. Nat Turner’s wit and courage were definitely what made him the man he was.

Nat Turner’s courage was, by far, the main reason he was able to partake in the slave revolt. Without his bravery, Turner and his followers would not have gotten as far as they did in their rebellion. I believe that Turner’s definition of a rebellion would be somewhere along the lines of a total annihilation of his enemy, in this case, the white people of Southampton. Turner and his followers, during the rebellion, took absolutely no pity on the townspeople. Not just the men were murdered. Every white person – man, woman, and children – was killed; “neither age nor sex was to be spared” (pg 48). Not only were they all killed but also killed quite brutally. “Will (one of the slave followers) laid him dead, with a blow of his axe” (pg 49), remarked Turner. While Nat Turner’s rebellion may not have fully succeeded, it did manage to accomplish one thing. It managed to get many more slaves thinking about the idea of freedom and rebellions. In other words, Turner’s courage in the rebellion did not go in vane.

Another example in which Nat Turner proves his vast amount of courage, takes place after the rebellion was over and done with. This example goes to show that he is not afraid of his destiny. After the local Southampton militia had put down the rebellion, Nat Turner and several of his followers were on the run. Turner, however, refused to leave the Southampton area. He knew that if he were to be captured, it was meant to be. Turner, for six weeks, hid out in a hole he dug underneath a pile of fence rails in a field (pg 53). It was not until a dog, searching for food, found his hole and began to bark that Turner was caught. A man named Benjamin Phipps was the man who apprehended Nat Turner. Phipps, after finally catching Turner, took him to prison. During all the commotion that took place, Turner had many narrow escapes. In the end, however he was caught, he could run no more. “I am here loaded with chains, and willing to suffer the fate that awaits me” (pg 53).

Aside from his great courage, Nat Turner also possessed a great deal of knowledge. Without this knowledge, Turner would not have been the great man he was. From his early childhood, Turner was known by his family and close friends as being “special.” Nat Turner “was accepted by the black community as a man apart, a man with extraordinary abilities…” (pg 1). Nat Turner even taught himself to read. He often times devoted his time towards religious interests. As Turner grew, he began to have visions and revelations of how he should lead his people to freedom. He had these visions while he was meditating and praying. All the signs, mixed together with his knowledge, lead Nat Turner to plan a revolt. He spent much of his time planning out exactly how he wanted his revolt to take place. In the end, Turner was able to figure out what he wanted to take place and how he wanted to do it. He knew that a slave revolt was the only way to get his message of freedom across. Without his wit, Nat Turner would never have been able to formulate his revolt.

In the end, it is easy to see how Nat Turner influenced society in the mid 1800’s. He can be viewed as one of the most important anti-slavery figures in all of American History. Turner was a special person, in the eyes of both African Americans and people who are against slavery. I believe that Nat Turner was one of the key aspects in the idea of freedom for slaves.

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