NAT TURNER: A Troublesome Property

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Nat Turner

The Confessions of Nat Turner
Controversy still surrounds the 1831 book penned by Thomas Gray. Did Turner voluntarily make these jail cell “confessions”? Or were they coerced and re-shaped by a biased author? Get the original text online, chapter-by-chapter, on this educational site created in the Netherlands.

All Things Considered: 1831
Nat Turner’s rebellion marked a year that also saw the rise of the abolitionist movement, growing tensions over states’ rights and the arrival of the steam locomotive. Listen to NPR’s Lisa Simeone talk with historian Louis P. Masur, author of 1831: Year of Eclipse, about this watershed year in American history.

The Richmond Enquirer on Nat Turner’s Rebellion
Days after Turner’s rebellion—and two months before he would be captured—the Enquirer published a description of the rebels' "murderous career.” Read the full text of this historical document on PBS’s Africans in America companion site.

“Fear of Insurrection”
In the hysterical climate that followed Turner’s revolt, blacks from as far away as North Carolina were accused of being part of the insurrection and even executed. Harriet Ann Jacobs, who later escaped to freedom, describes this climate of fear and harassment in her memoirs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself.

American Masters: William Styron
As seen in NAT TURNER: A Troublesome Property, Styron’s 1967 Pulitzer Prize-winning fictional adaptation of The Confessions of Nat Turner was—and remains—a subject of intellectual debate, “both praised as a brave look into a rarely represented life, and maligned for what many saw as a clichéd conception of a black man.” Find out more about the author’s life and works.

Slavery in America

Africans in America
Packed with primary sources, this companion site for the six-part PBS series chronicles the history of racial slavery in the U.S., slavery’s economic and intellectual foundations and the African American struggle for freedom and equality. View chronological narratives, commentaries, biographies of historical figures such as Harriet Tubman and information on important enactments such as the Fugitive Slave Act. Learn more about key slave rebellions including Gabriel Prosser’s Revolt, the Stono Rebellion and the Denmark Vesey Conspiracy.

American Slave Narratives: An Online Anthology
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) interviewed more than 2,300 former slaves in the 1930s, recording rare, firsthand accounts of slave life. Read samples from these narratives and view photographs taken during the interviews.

Slavery in America
Created by teachers for teachers, this educator’s site features resources on the institution of American slavery. Browse essays, literary links, narratives, biographies and a Slavery in America image gallery.

The Underground Railroad
View a map of the “railroad” which aided in the escape of approximately 75,000 slaves. Get links to primary source documents and more information on those involved.

The Tavis Smiley Show: Worthy Subject
NPR’s Tavis Smiley speaks with Harriet Tubman’s great-grandniece, Pauline Copes Johnson, about the preservation of Tubman's home church in upstate New York, the Thompson Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church.

Frederick Douglass
One of the best-known abolitionist leaders of the 19th century, Douglass escaped slavery, wrote his memoirs and become a skillful orator and government advisor. An African American World
feature, this Encyclopedia Britannica listing contains a short bio of Douglass and information on his work.

The Tavis Smiley Show: Uncle Tom’s Cabin Reconsidered
Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famed abolitionist novel helped garner public support for the anti-slavery movement. Allison Keyes reports on a New York Historical Society exhibit called Reading Uncle Tom's Image: A Reconsideration of Harriet Beecher Stowe's 150-Year-Old Character and His Legacy.

Old Courthouse: Dred Scott Decision
Learn more about the Dred Scott decision and its role in American history and politics. The site includes background info on the case, as well as RealAudio clips of historical narratives written by Harriet Scott, Dred’s wife.

The Tavis Smiley Show: What Dred Scott Meant for African Americans
In 1857, Dred Scott sued for his freedom in a landmark case in which the Supreme Court declared African Americans to not be U.S. citizens. Tavis Smiley chats with lawyer Raymond Brown, host of the TV show Due Process, about how the case impacted African Americans and the legal system.

All Things Considered: Denmark Vesey
In 1822, Denmark Vesey planned a massive slave rebellion in Charleston, South Carolina before he was captured and executed. David Robertson, the author of Denmark Vesey: The Buried History of America's Largest Slave Rebellion and the Man Who Led It discusses Vesey’s revolt and the impact it had on slave owners.

Talk of the Nation: American Slavery
NPR’s Ray Suarez hosts this talk with Rosemarie Robotham, editor of Spirits of the Passage: The Transatlantic Slave Trade in the Seventeenth Century, Donna Wyant Howell, editor of I Was A Slave: True Life Stories Told By Former American Slaves in the 1930s and Shadrach Minkins, author of From Fugitive Slave to Citizen. Find out more about the horror of the middle passage, plantation life and its cultural legacies.

Morning Edition: Slavery and Patriotism
Many of America’s founding fathers were slave owners. How does this fact affect patriotism among African Americans? NPR's Renee Montagne speaks with author Roger Wilkins about how slave labor gave Thomas Jefferson and George Washington the freedom to become statesmen.

The 54th Massachusetts Regiment
Almost 180,000 African American men served in the Union Army during the Civil War and freed men and conscripted slaves served in the Confederate Army as well. See photos of some of these men and learn about the politics surrounding the draft in both the North and the South.

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Sources

Nat Turner

Africans in America Part 3: Nat Turner’s Rebellion

Slave Rebellions Timeline

Slave Rebellions

The Encyclopædia Brittanica Guide to Black History

PBS: African American World Timeline, 1400s–1865

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