Nat Turner

Frank Cieciorka (American, 1939 – 2008)
publisher : Movement Press (American)
Offset lithograph
Sheet : 23 x 17 1/2 in. (58.42 x 44.45 cm)
Credit Line
Hope College Collection
Object Number

Nat Turner (1800-1831) was born into slavery on a plantation in Southampton County, Virginia where he was taught to read and write at an early age. Deeply religious, Turner became a preacher and often conducted services for other enslaved people from his own and nearby plantations. Turner began having religious visions in his early twenties and became convinced that God had chosen him to end the practice of slavery in the United States. In August 1831, Turner launched an uprising that he hoped would inspire similar rebellions throughout the American south. Turner and his rebels liberated dozens of slaves and killed approximately 55 people from white slave-owning families over a four day period before they were stopped by Virginia state militia soldiers. Turner initially escaped capture and remained on the run for six weeks before he was finally caught, tried and executed in November, 1831. The response of white authorities to Turner's rebellion was swift and brutal. 56 Black people who participated in the uprising were executed and more than 200 who had no connection to Turner were killed extra-judicially by white militias and mobs, some in other states. In addition, new laws were passed limiting the ability of enslaved African Americans to receive an education and to gather socially or practice religion without white supervision. Despite the terrible consequences of his rebellion, Nat Turner was regarded as a folk hero by many African Americans both before and after the Civil War. His legacy was invoked again in the late 1960s and 70s by some people in the Black Power movement who supported the use of armed force to protect Black lives and advance the cause of racial justice.  

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