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Nat Turner and the Rising in Southampton County

David F. AllmendingerJr.

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A masterful study of one of the bloodiest slave rebellions in the history of the Old South.

In August 1831, in Southampton County, Virginia, Nat Turner led a bloody uprising that took the lives of some fifty-five white people—men, women, and children—shocking the South. Nearly as many black people, all told, perished in the rebellion and its aftermath. Nat Turner and the Rising in Southampton County presents important new evidence about the violence and the community in which it took place, shedding light on the insurgents and victims and reinterpreting the most important account of that event…

A masterful study of one of the bloodiest slave rebellions in the history of the Old South.

In August 1831, in Southampton County, Virginia, Nat Turner led a bloody uprising that took the lives of some fifty-five white people—men, women, and children—shocking the South. Nearly as many black people, all told, perished in the rebellion and its aftermath. Nat Turner and the Rising in Southampton County presents important new evidence about the violence and the community in which it took place, shedding light on the insurgents and victims and reinterpreting the most important account of that event, The Confessions of Nat Turner. Drawing upon largely untapped sources, David F. Allmendinger Jr. reconstructs the lives of key individuals who were drawn into the uprising and shows how the history of certain white families and their slaves—reaching back into the eighteenth century—shaped the course of the rebellion.

Never before has anyone so patiently examined the extensive private and public sources relating to Southampton as does Allmendinger in this remarkable work. He argues that the plan of rebellion originated in the mind of a single individual, Nat Turner, who concluded between 1822 and 1826 that his own masters intended to continue holding slaves into the next generation. Turner specifically chose to attack households to which he and his followers had connections. The book also offers a close analysis of his Confessions and the influence of Thomas R. Gray, who wrote down the original text in November 1831. The author draws new conclusions about Turner and Gray, their different motives, the authenticity of the confession, and the introduction of terror as a tactic, both in the rebellion and in its most revealing document.

Students of slavery, the Old South, and African American history will find in Nat Turner and the Rising in Southampton County an outstanding example of painstaking research and imaginative family and community history.

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Nat Turner and the Rising in Southampton County

David F. AllmendingerJr.

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Reviews

[David Allmendinger] has dug deeply into property records, wills, and court judgments, some extending back to the eighteenth century, to provide a scaffolding of information about the web of anonymous lives amid which Turner grew to maturity. A remarkable amount of fresh research undergirds this volume.

In this long-awaited study, based on prodigious archival research, University of Delaware professor emeritus of history David F. Allmendinger Jr. presents a richly detailed, country-level microhistory of the 1831 Virginia slave uprising commonly known as Nat Turner's Rebellion.

"The exhaustive research Allmendinger presents greatly enriches our historical understanding of the Southampton Rebellion through the eyes of its key victims. Nat Turner and the Rising in Southampton County reveals important dimensions of the rebellion's local history and contextualizes the event, as Nat Turner did, within the context of slavery in Southampton County.

Allmendinger’s great achievement is that he made full use of ‘new’ primary sources related to the uprising of 1831—new sources hitherto hidden in plain sight. Most importantly, he understood the significance of this material and knew exactly how to mine it for valuable new insights into virtually every aspect of Nat Turner’s rebellion.

No one has done more to corroborate and sync the details, nor to illuminate Turner’s inspirations and goals. Nat Turner and the Rising in Southampton County is a model of historical methodology, and goes further than any other previous work in helping readers understand Turner’s motives and meaning

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
416
ISBN
9781421422558
Illustration Description
4 maps
Table of Contents

List of Maps and Tables
Acknowledgments
Note on Surnames
Introduction: The Key Account
Part I: Masters
1. A History of Motives
2. Lines of Descent: The Turners
3. Alliances: Turner, Francis, Reese
4

List of Maps and Tables
Acknowledgments
Note on Surnames
Introduction: The Key Account
Part I: Masters
1. A History of Motives
2. Lines of Descent: The Turners
3. Alliances: Turner, Francis, Reese
4. Successors: Capt. Moore and Mr. Travis
Part II: Rebellion
6. The Inner Circle
7. The Zigzag Course
8. Toward the Town
9. The Rising
Part III: Telling Evidence
10. The Inquiry
11. Confession
12. Closing Scenes
Appendixes
A. Roster of Insurgents
B. Insurgents Who Separated before Parker's Field
C. Coerced Participants
D. Insurgents at Buckhorn Quarter
E. White Victims
F. Atrocities and the Tax Rolls
A Note on Historiography: Rebellion and Local History
Notes
Index

Author Bio
David F. AllmendingerJr.
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David F. Allmendinger Jr.

David F. Allmendinger Jr. is professor emeritus of history at the University of Delaware. He is the author of Paupers and Scholars: The Transformation of Student Life in Nineteenth-Century New England and Ruffin: Family and Reform in the Old South.
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