Nat Turner's Rebellion

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades 5-12:

Era 4: Expansion and Reform (1801-1861)

STANDARD 2: How the industrial revolution, increasing immigration, the rapid expansion of slavery, and the westward movement changed the lives of Americans and led toward regional tensions 

Standard 2D: The student understands the rapid growth of "the peculiar institution" after 1800 and the varied experiences of African Americans under slavery.

5-12: Identify the various ways in which African Americans resisted the conditions of their enslavement and analyze the consequences of violent uprisings. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]

Primary Resources

  1. DESCRIPTION: The Confessions of Nat Turner, the leader of the late insurrection, in Southhampton, Virginia
    AUTHOR: Thomas R. Gray
    NOTES: Transcription available in Documenting the American South
    SOURCE: African American Odyssey
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division
  2. DESCRIPTION: John Floyd, governor of Virginia, to James Hamilton, governor of South Carolina
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: November 19, 1831
    SOURCE: African American Odyssey
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division
  3. DESCRIPTION: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself
    AUTHOR: Harriet Jacobs
    REPRODUCTIONS: Rights and Reproductions
    NOTES: In Chapter 12, "Fear of Insurrection," Jacobs describes the treatment of slaves following the rebellion.
    SOURCE: The Nineteenth Century in Print: Books
    REPOSITORY: Digitized by the University of Michigan Library
  4. DESCRIPTION: The Richmond Enquirer on Nat Turner's Rebellion
    SOURCE: Brotherly Love (PBS)
  5. DESCRIPTION: Horrid massacre in Virginia
    REPRODUCTIONS: See item description for information
    SOURCE: Illus. in: Authentic and impartial narrative of the tragical scene which was witnessed in Southampton County. [New York], 1831.
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division

See also: 

Additional Media Resources

African American Odyssey. From Library of Congress

Brotherly Love. From PBS's African's in America

Additional Instructional Resources

Nat Turner's Rebellion, 1831: A Document-Based Question

Runaway Slaves: From the Revolution to the New Republic From the UMBC Center for History Education

Freedom for All? The Contradictions of Slavery and Freedom in the Maryland Constitution From the UMBC Center for History Education

The Untold Story: The Black Struggle for Freedom during the Revolutionary War in Maryland From the UMBC Center for History Education

Daily Lives of Slaves - What Really Happened? From the UMBC Center for History Education

Secondary Resources

Cromwell, John W. "The Aftermath of Nat Turner's Insurrection." The Journal of Negro History (Apr., 1920): 208-234.

Duff, John B. and Peter M. Mitchell. The Nat Turner Rebellion: The Historical Event and the Modern Controversy. New York: Harper & Row, 1971.

Gross, Seymour L. and Eileen Bender. "History, Politics and Literature: The Myth of Nat Turner." American Quarterly (Oct., 1971): 487-518.

Oates, Stephen B. The Fires of Jubilee: Nat Turner's Fierce Rebellion. New York : Harper & Row, [1975]

Tragle, Henry Irving, ed. The Southampton Slave Revolt of 1831: A Compilation of Source Material. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1971. 

See also fictionalized account and related secondary sources: 

Styron, William. The Confessions of Nat Turner. New York: Random House, Inc., 1967

Casciato, Arthur D. and James L. W. West III. "William Styron and The Southampton Insurrection." American Literature (Jan., 1981):  564-577.

Davis, Mary Kemp. Nat Turner before the Bar of Judgment: Fictional Treatments of the Southampton Slave Insurrection. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1999.

Ratner, Marc L. "Styron's Rebel" American Quarterly, Vol. 21, No. 3. (Autumn, 1969), pp. 595-608.

Shapiro, Herbert. "The Confessions of Nat Turner: William Styron and his Critics." Negro American Literature Forum (Winter, 1975): 99-104.

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Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

This document packet was researched and developed by Nancy Bramucci.


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