Making History: Transcribe is made possible in part by federal funding provided through the Library Services and Technology Act program administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Slavery & Rebellion in Nat Turner's Virginia

These documents are for Prof. Partick Breen's class "Slavery & Rebellion in Nat Turner's Virginia." Please do not transcribe these documents unless you are a student enrolled in this class, or at the direction of the professor.

On August 21, 1831, a group of enslaved rebels led by Nat Turner launched the most deadly slave rebellion in American history. Nearly sixty whites in Southampton, Virginia died over the next two days. News of the slave rebel army spread along their path and a militia was formed to combat them. By August 23, Nat and his men were captured or dispersed. Those suspected of involvement—including some who were later determined to be innocent—were tortured and killed without trials in the days after the revolt. Martial law was declared in Southampton to regain order. Enslaved men and women who were suspected of supporting the revolt were detained and held for trial. Those who were convicted were executed or transported outside of the Commonwealth. Nat Turner had eluded capture for two months, but was discovered and brought to trial at the end of October. He was convicted of “conspiring to rebel and making insurrection” and executed on November 5, 1831.

Nat Tuner’s legacy remains deeply contested. These documents were selected for the Making History: Transcribe program in 2016 due to their Nat Turner-related content and include APA records, Commonwealth Causes, and Legislative Petitions. Primary sources from the holdings of the Library of Virginia will allow scholars and students to develop new understandings of Nat Turner, his revolt, and the world that he helped make.