Even almost 200 years after his death, Nat Turner remains one of the most intricate figures in American history. He and his rebellion have been the heart of many intense arguments, and many scholars have burned gallons on end of midnight oil exhausting resources in attempt to get to know Mr. Turner. These valiant attempts at familiarizing themselves with this very influential man have left us with countless sources to study. In these sources, we can find several different explanations as to why Nat Turner launched this infamous rebellion. These explanations range as far as political to cultural, but I will argue until my death that Mr. Turner’s religious beliefs are what ...view middle of the document...
Mr. Turner’s case surely has yet to be laid to rest, and we can thank the persistence of past and present historians for this. Shortly after Mr. Turner was captured and imprisoned, the United States was graced with the publishing of his autobiography. Thomas Gray, a doctor, slaveholder, and Mr. Turner’s amanuensis who undoubtedly had a political agenda, composed this autobiography. Mr. Gray was one of the first to ask the question that scholars like myself still propose today, “why?” Of course, this work is not a personal account from Nat Turner himself so we have to refrain from taking at face value and consider the point of view it was written from. William Andrews did just this when he wrote the essay titled The Confessions of Nat Turner Memoir of a Martyr or Testament of a Terrorist, which was inserted as a chapter in Vincent Wimbush’s book, Theorizing Scriptures: New Critical Orientations to a Cultural Phenomenon. For the purpose of this paper, Andrews’ essay is very accommodating. He walks us through Gray’s work and portrays his own analysis of what was written about Turner’s religious beliefs.1
As I mentioned before, there are endless sources that can be utilized when one is studying Nat Turner’s motives for the rebellion. So many sources in fact that the researcher must be mindful of the types of sources they are using. For the purposes of this paper, I found that
secondary sources such as criticisms and histories were helpful. In addition, I found that
1 William Andrews, “The Confessions of Nat Turner: Memoir of a Martyr or Testament of a Terrorist?” in Theorizing Scriptures: New Critical Orientations to a Cultural Phenomenon, ed. Vincent Wimbush (New Brunswick, N.J.:Rutgers UniversityPress, 2008), 79-87.
secondary sources such as criticisms and histories were helpful. In addition, I found that primary sources such as Nat Turner’s autobiography, diaries and newspapers were beneficial. When I first embarked on my journey through these sources, I was particularly drawn to Nat Turners autobiography that I mentioned earlier. This work gave me a lot of insight into Mr....