How Jesus Inspired One Of The Largest Slave Rebellions In American History

Addison Sarter
3 min readOct 3, 2019
Illustration of Nat Turner’s rebellion

In August of 1831, Nat Turner, a former slave and preacher, led a two day rebellion in Southampton, Virginia, killing approximately 60 white people. Turner, along with enslaved black people, as well as free black people, led one of the biggest slave rebellions in American history. He was eventually caught and executed, but not before he told the court why he led the rebellion.

Nat Turner said he was inspired by the book of Exodus, about Moses and the Israelites. The Israelites, are who the Bible refers to as, Gods chosen people. During the time of Moses they were being enslaved and mistreated by the Egyptian government. Moses helped lead them to freedom. Nat Turner also describes in his confession letter that Jesus also helped inspire him to lead the rebellion.

Nat Turner said he had a vision from God, in which he

heard a loud noise in the heavens, and the Spirit instantly appeared to me and said the Serpent 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… And by signs in the heavens that it would make known to me when I should commence the great work, and until the first sign appeared I should conceal it from the knowledge of men; and on the appearance of the sign… I should arise and prepare myself and slay my enemies with their own weapons.”

As eccentric as having visions may sound, Nat Turner is not the only former slave who believed they had visions. Harriet Tubman said she had them as well. She said God specially spoke to her and chose her as somebody to free black people.

The book Harriet Tubman: The Moses of her people” by Karen Fox, stated that Harriet Tubman wrote about “using her nighttime dreams where to take slaves so they can be free.”

“She also had waking visions that would modify the dreams if she felt like you better stop and not go that way she wouldn’t.” Fox said.

Fast forward to 2019, and many people black people still believe that the bible teaches black people to be submissive. There is some truth to that. During slavery there was a bible that was taught to black people by slave owners, in a way to make black people submissive.

A new report shows that slave owners used what we now call a “Slave Bible”. This slave bible was missing passages that would inspire rebellion. They were removed by Europeans. At the Museum of the bible in DC, it is noted that “About 90 percent of the Old Testament is missing [and] 50 percent of the New Testament is missing,”

Thankfully Nat Turner was able to learn the truth about the Bible and not be brainwashed by European slave masters. Nat Turner’s rebellion put fear in the minds of white people all over Virginia. The rebellion had such an impact that the government of Virginia held a meeting to decide on whether they would end slavery.