On this dayNov 11, 1831

Nat Turner Hanged; Hundreds of Black People Killed By White Mobs Angry About Revolt Against Slavery


On November 11, 1831, after a rushed trial and conviction, an enslaved Black man named Nat Turner was hanged in Jerusalem, Virginia, after being convicted of leading a revolt against his enslavers.

On August 21, 1831, Mr. Turner led a group of Black people in a revolt against slavery. Other enslaved Black people joined the uprising, and Mr. Turner's troops grew to 60 to 70 people who fought white enslavers before being defeated by a militia. Many of Mr. Turner's followers were killed or captured immediately, but Mr. Turner escaped and evaded searchers for weeks before being captured on October 30, 1831.

Enslavers and defenders of slavery throughout Virginia wanted Nat Turner and all who participated in the revolt harshly punished as an example to others who might be inspired by his efforts. At least 18 Black participants in the uprising were executed along with Nat Turner.

However, in the months after the rebellion, angry white mobs began to torture and murder hundreds of Black people who had not participated in the revolt, terrorizing enslaved and free Black people. Conditions of enslavement worsened for thousands of enslaved Black people as more cruel, barbaric, and traumatizing forms of control were implemented.

In response to Mr. Turner’s revolt, at least nine states—Virginia, Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee—passed laws targeting enslaved and free Black people and limiting their mobility. These laws prohibited Black people from assembling freely, conducting independent religious services, or preaching to a crowd of more than five people. Some states passed laws criminalizing the education of Black people, prohibiting Black people from learning to read or write. Some states also passed laws barring free Black people from living in the state.

Rather than retreat from the horrors of slavery as was happening in Central and South America, slave states in America committed to a new era of harsher conditions, dehumanizing control, and brutal punishment of enslaved people.

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