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southampton and negroes

TURNER, Nat negro slave, preacher and leader of the ((Southampton Insurrection"; b. Southampton County, Va., 1800; executed at Jerusalem, Va., 11 Nov. 1831. A man of ele mentary education, but a preacher of natural ability and influence among the negroes, his mystical claims of hearing voices and seeing visions from childhood culminated in 1828 when he announced that a voice from heaven had declared that "the last shall be firstp; that the negroes should rise and slay their enemies and gain freedom and control, when a sign should appear. The solar eclipse of February 1831 and subsequent unusual atmospheric con ditions were accepted as the signal, and on Sunday night, 21 Aug. 1831, Turner and seven companions murdered hismaster and five mem bers of the family in their beds. With their band increased to 53 members, the negroes massacred 24 children, 18 women and 13 men of white blood before noon of the following day, when they were dispersed by a party of white men who had hastily gathered for de fense. The criminals were subsequently hunted

down and Turner escaped capture until 30 October. Tried and condemned, 17 of the band, including Turner, were hanged. The remainder received other sentences, as evidence showed that they acted under life or death compulsion. In other instances, at the risk of their lives, faithful slaves successfully defended their masters and families from slaughter. Pro slavery advocates irrationally attributed the in surrection to the work of the abolitionists. Stricter slave codes were enacted, and the liber ation movement received a serious setback. Consult Drewry, W. L., Southampton In surrection' (Washington 1900).