Nat Turner was born on October 2, 1800 as property of a small plantation owner in Southampton, Virginia. His mother strongly hated slavery, and this hate was passed down to Nat. In his early twenties he was sold to a neighboring farm. He was sold again in 1831 to the Joseph Travis family.
Shortly after he was sold, he started a revolt. This occurred on August 21, 1831. This was to become the largest slave revolt in the history of the South. Turner was inspired during a solar eclipse, which he believed to be a sign that the time to strike was near. He planned to capture the armory at Jerusalem, the county seat.
While en route, he planned to gather a number of slaves, and then proceed to the Dismal Swamp. Turner decided that it would be difficult to be apprehended. Turners rebellion started with seven fellow slaves whom he trusted greatly. Travis and his family were murdered in their sleep, and Turner marched to the county seat.Order now
After only the first two days of the rebellion, about 60 whites had been brutally murdered. On October 24th, an armed militia and local forces totaling over 3000 men cam to challenge Turner and the 75 slaves that supported his efforts. This force encountered Turners force a few miles outside of Jerusalem. Most of Turners force was killed or captured, however, many other innocent slaves and free blacks were killed in the confusion that followed. While Turners rebellion was put down on the 24th, Turner himself was able to elude the militia and other white for just over six weeks! Once he was captured, he was tried, convicted, and hung. While Turners rebellion was apparently a failure, he was able to convince whites in the South that slaves were not content with their living conditions.
In Southampton county black people came to measure time from “Nat’s Fray,” or “Old Nat’s War. ” For many years in black churches throughout the country, the name Jerusalem referred not only to the Bible but also covertly to the place where the rebel slave had met his death.