100 Days Until Totality Blog Series: 65 Days Left – The Rebellion Eclipse

Nat Turner rallies other slaves for the rebelion in 1831

Before he became a man fighting for freedom, Nat Turner was a religious and studious child that had been born into slavery. When Turner was young and growing up, his mother and grandmother had instilled in him that he was born for greatness, and that he was not destined to spend his life under the hands of a white man.

In 1825, Turner had a dream in which he saw a battle between black and white entities, and took this to mean God was telling him that change was coming. Turner had grown by now, and had been preparing to be the catalyst for this change. Several years later in 1831, an annular solar eclipse appeared in the sky. When Turner observed this, he interpreted it as white and black entities again struggling for power. It was time to fight for the thing he’d been wanting since childhood: freedom. He then rallied other slaves, took up arms, and led his supporters into a battle that still stands as one of the most violent and tragic slave rebellions in American history.

It is believed that 55 white people had died by the time the violent struggle had ended. At another squirmish near a Jerusalem plantation, Nat Turner squared up against a group of armed white men. Being out-numbered and out-armed, Turner was forced to flee and hide for the next 30 days. During that time, white men had retaliated by killing as much as 200 hundred African American people in his absence.

Nat Turner (1800 – 1831), is discovered 30 days after the rebellion ends.
(Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

Eventually Turner was caught and tried, but he did not sway. He believed God had told him it was the right thing to do. Turner was sentenced to hang in November of 1831. However, his legend did not die with him, but instead he became a symbol for the Civil Rights movements of the 1960’s and opened the minds of others to equality and freedom.


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