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“Nat Turner’s Bones: Reassembling an American Rebel” a lecture

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Nat Turner’s revolt

Lynchburg, Virginia’s Jones Memorial Library is hosting a lecture on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at 5:00 pm.  This lecture will discuss the archaeological search for the remains of a Virginia slave, Nat Turner.

Who was Nat Turner?  Born on October 2, 1800, in South Hampton County, Virginia, Nat Turner made history as the leader of one of the bloodiest slave revolts in America.  He was born on the Virginia plantation of Benjamin Turner, who allowed him to be instructed in reading, writing and religion.  As a small child Nat was thought to have a special talent because he could describe things that happened before he was born.  He was deeply religious and spent much of his time reading the Bible, praying and fasting.  As he grew older he believed he received messages from God through visions and signs in nature.  In 2016, his story was told in the movie, Birth of a Nation.

Nat Turner

Nat Turner in the movie Birth of a Nation in 2016

In 1825 Nat had a vision of a bloody conflict between black and white spirits.  Three years later he had another.  In 1831 Nat interpreted a solar eclipse as a sign that it was time to rise up.  He recruited several other slaves to join his cause.  On August 21, 1831 Nat and his supporters began their revolt against white slave owners with the killing of the Travis family.  He gathered more supporters, growing to a group of over 50 slaves, as he and his men continued their violent killing spree through the county.  Nat fled and hid in the woods.  While he was hiding white mobs took their revenge on the blacks in Southampton County, killing between 150-200 slaves.  Nat was captured and tried.  Although he pled not guilty he was sentenced to death by hanging, which was carried out on November 11, 1831.

The rebellion was one of the bloodiest and most effective in American history.  The incident put fear in the heart of southerners, especially Virginians, ending the organized emancipation movement in that region.  Southern states enacted even harsher laws against slaves instead.  Nat’s actions added fuel to the abolitionist movement in the north.  The rebellion is said to have expedited the coming of the Civil War.

Here are 10 things you may want to know about Nat Turner as shown on the History Chanel.

The lecture will be conducted by Dr. Kelley Fanto Deetz.  He will discuss the life of Nat Turner, the rebellion and the search for Nat Turner’s remains.  This lecture is free and open to the public.  It will take place at Jones Memorial Library, 2311 Memorial Avenue, on the second floor, at 5:00 pm.  For more information contact the library staff at 434.846.0501.