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I heard a loud noise in the heavens, and the Spirit was loosened, and Christ had laid down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I should take it on and fight against the Serpent, for the time was fast approaching when the first should be last and the last should be first… Nat Turner

Being at play with other children, when three or four years old, I was telling them something, which my mother overhearing, said it had happened before I was born… others being called on were greatly astonished…and caused them to say in my hearing, I surely would be a prophet… probably from his earliest age Nat Turner was either delusional or was manipulated in delusions that reduced him to a state of perpetual psychosis and turned him into the prophet warrior of the slave rebellion.

Having soon discovered to be great, I must appear so, and therefore studiously avoided mixing in society, and wrapped myself in mystery, devoting my time to fasting and prayer… the most disturbing aspect is the similarity to jihad and the current recruitment of American blacks by muslims and the disruptions it may cause in our current society.

The rebellious slave : Nat Turner in American memory    Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2004  Scot French Slaves Virginia Southampton County Biography, Turner, Nat, 1800?-1831 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. x, 379 p. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [343]-352) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG  

Nat Turner was neither the first nor the last slave to rise in arms yet he stands alone in popular culture as the epitome of the rebellious slave — a glorious hero and martyr to some, a misguided fanatic and cold-blooded mass murderer to others.

In this study spanning the eras of slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow, and civil rights, Scot French places the contested history and enduring memory of “Nat Turner”s Rebellion” within a broader American discourse on race, slavery, and the boundaries of national belonging.

French builds his narrative around close readings of historical texts, both famous and obscure, from early American prophecies of slave rebellion to post-9/11 editorials on the “terror” inspired by Turner and his followers. He devotes considerable attention to the interplay between quasi-official narratives, such as Thomas R. Gray”s “The Confessions of Nat Turner,” and less authoritative sources, such as contemporary newspaper accounts and even rumor and oral tradition. Where most historians accept “The Confessions” as gospel, French presents several compelling counternarratives that point to a wider conspiracy.


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