History : Jan-Feb 2017
84 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 Norfolk Herald reported that: “He betrayed no emotion, but ap- peared to be utterly reckless in the awful fate that awaited him and even hurried his executioner in the performance of his duty! Precisely at 12 o’clock he was launched into eternity.” In the aftermath of the revolt, Virginia and North Carolina experienced a rash of violence against blacks. White vigilantes took it upon themselves to strike fear into the black communities by murdering dozens of innocent African Ameri- cans. The Richmond Whig reported: “. . . Itiswithpainthatwe speak of another feature of the Southampton Rebel- lion; for we have been most unwilling to have our sym- pathies for the sufferers diminished or affected by their misconduct. We allude to the slaughter of many blacks, without trial, and under circumstances of great barbarity. . .” Terror ran through both black and white com- munities: Whites feared more rebellions, blacks feared more unjust killings. The rebellion in- spired the Virginia Slavery Debate that occurred during the 1831-32 sesson of the House of Del- egates, and is considered one of the first signifi- cant strides toward the Civil War. Nat Turner’s rebellion, one of the most significant events of the 19th century, forced the nation to confront slavery. However, it remains a little- taught story because the rebels’ actions are among the most controversial in American history. Much of the demoni- zation of Turner and his COLLECTION OF SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE FREEDOM PAPERS Free African Americans in the 19th century had to carry documentation with them at all times to prove their status. Joseph Trammell, a free man from Virginia, protected his official papers in this tin box (below).
March April 2017