On this dayNov 11, 1831
Nat Turner Hanged in Virginia for Leading Anti-Slavery Revolt
On November 11, 1831, after a swift trial and conviction, an enslaved black man named Nat Turner was hanged in Jerusalem, Virginia, after being convicted of leading a violent revolt against slavery.
Nat Turner lived in Southampton, Virginia. A religious leader who ministered to both free white people and enslaved black people, Turner studied the Bible fervently and often reported experiencing visions from God. He interpreted some of these visions as calls to revolt against slavery and white plantation owners, and soon began to plan a rebellion. On August 21, 1831, Turner led a group of black people in an attack on a nearby plantation, recruiting other enslaved black allies along the way. Armed with firearms and tools, Turner's troops grew to 60-70 people, and killed an estimated 60 white people before being confronted and defeated by a militia. Many of Turner's followers were killed or captured immediately but Turner escaped and evaded searchers for weeks. He was captured on October 30, 1831.
Fearful defenders of slavery throughout Virginia wanted Nat Turner harshly punished as an example to others who might be inspired by his efforts. He was executed along with 30 other black participants in the revolt, but slave owners' brutal retaliation and suppression did not end there. In the months after the rebellion, angry white mobs tortured and murdered hundreds of black people who had not participated in the revolt. In addition, Virginia and other slaveholding states passed laws prohibiting black people from assembling freely, conducting independent religious services, or learning to read and write.