<< ARI Watch
Valedictorians of Yesteryear
- hardly distinguishable from Jefferson and Paine -
One technique Leftists use over and over is to take a legitimate issue, such as pollution, and turn it into something that undermines Capitalism, such as Environmentalism. Here we will see how an associate of the Ayn Rand Institute turns slavery into the virtue of Nat Turner.
How times have changed. Stories of Nat Turner’s Rebellion once presented Turner as a villain, a villain far worse than the men he murdered. Today, after half a century of Leftists’ “black is beautiful” moralizing, he is a hero. Recently Andrew Bernstein added an Official Objectivist twist to the new dispensation: Nat Turner, and the other black insurrectionists of the pre-war 1800s, were no ordinary heroes, they were magnificent intellectuals comparable to the founders of the republic. If your knowledge of this byway in American history is as murky as mine used to be, read on.
You know the background at least. The southerners of the eighteenth and most of the nineteenth century were too lazy to work their own farms and so had Africans and Caribbeans brought over as slaves to do it for them. Whatever the Virginians’ shabby excuses and initial financial success, the importation of non-whites into a white country was an unmitigated long range disaster.
History does not always provide us with a morality play featuring unalloyed good versus unalloyed evil. Frequently situations and events are a mixture, the two pure categories tangled up. Still, perhaps we can draw the line at hacking women and children to death. It’s evil. I mean, it’s evil unless you’re an Official Objectivist and can say the magic word “context.”
In “Black Slaves Who Could Have Been American Founders”  Mr. Bernstein shows us three exemplary leaders, or would be leaders, of slave revolts. The first is Gabriel Prosser, a slave born in Virginia circa 1775. He and his followers, numbering in the several hundreds, planned to kill whites in and around Richmond (exceptions were Methodists, Quakers and Frenchmen, groups Gabriel perceived as being on his side) and take Governor James Monroe (Revolutionary War veteran and future president) hostage. The uprising was to begin August 30, 1800.
The plot was discovered in time – in time from the point of view of the whites – and Gabriel and his “lieutenants” subsequently hanged. For their stillborn effort Mr. Bernstein lays it on:
“Gabriel Prosser ... and his lieutenants took seriously the ideals of the American Revolution, the principles that men have an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and have a right to rebel when those rights are denied.”No bona fide historian describes Gabriel as having studied John Locke, but he could have been influenced by the American Revolution, which had taken place some years earlier (1765-1783). He was influenced by talk of the French Revolution which was happening at the time (1789-1799; Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité; Robespierre; the Reign of Terror) and talk of the slave insurrection in Saint Domingue (1791-1803, afterwards known as Haiti, during which blacks slaughtered every white who didn’t get out of the country). Gabriel’s brother Solomon stated in his confession, read back to him and acknowledged in court: “My brother Gabriel was the person who influenced me to join him and others in order that – as he said – we might conquer the white people and possess ourselves of their property.” It looks like Garbriel was motivated not by the high ideals of the American Revolution but rather by vulgar egalitarianism. 
Likely what motivated the slaves who joined him was simply a desire to escape being, in effect, penned up, the natural motivation of any animal. The theoretical framework of the Declaration of Independence is seen only through Mr. Bernstein’s wishful thinking.
Mr. Bernstein’s second exhibit is Denmark Vesey. He was from St. Thomas, an island in the Caribbean, when it was a slave colony of Denmark. He was purchased and then sold in Saint Domingue (Haiti, as we have said, when it was a French colony). Taken back by his previous owner, he ended in Charleston, South Carolina. He soon purchased his freedom in 1810 after winning a lottery (his master gave him a low price, which left him most of his winnings). Though free and having become successful as a carpenter, he took it upon himself to organize a slave revolt with the goal of taking Charleston area blacks to what was by that time Haiti.
“Vesey deployed his great intelligence in pursuit of freedom. He embraced the principles of America’s Declaration of Independence ...”Mr. Bernstein has peculiar ideas of intelligence, success and freedom. One wonders if he really knows the history of Saint Domingue / Haiti. After the slave uprising in 1791 most whites fled the country and there ensued a civil war between mulattos and blacks. Eventually Toussaint, a black later to call himself L’Ouverture, rose to power. In 1799 L’Ouverture made public a new constitution in which (quoting the book The Haitian People by Prof. James Leyburn) “he not only assumed all political power for life, but also ascribed to himself the right of naming his successor.” The result of the insurrection was a typical Third World strongman setup. “The Negroes, though no longer slaves, were ordered back to work, and they docilely obeyed.” Vesey may well have been, as Mr. Bernstein says, “another Toussaint L’Ouverture” but it was nothing to boast about.
“To the Haitian slaves who had been transplanted to South Carolina by white masters escaping that country’s successful slave uprising, Vesey, with his powerful intellect, vast knowledge, and thorough familiarity with Haiti’s history, was another Toussaint L’Ouverture, the brilliant black general and statesman whose genius was largely responsible for transforming a society of slaves into the free republic of Haiti.”
L’Ouverture’s “for life” self-appointment didn’t last long; he was captured by the French during a failed attempt to retake the colony, and died in France. Saint Domingue then went through a succession of leaders. The next, Dessalines, under a flag emblazoned with “Liberty or Death” massacred the remaining whites, changed the country’s name to Haiti, proclaimed himself “governor-general for life” and reestablished slavery, this time by blacks. He was assassinated in 1806, probably by mulattos. At the time of Vesey’s planned insurrection Haiti was led by Boyer, a mulatto, and there was an unacknowledged caste system of mulatto officials and black peasants. 
With that dubious inspiration Vesey plotted an uprising of thousands of slaves in Charleston and the surrounding area. Quoting Mr. Bernstein:
“Through the early months of 1822, he and his lieutenants, all literate, all imbued with America’s revolutionary spirit, reached out extensively in all directions ...”As with the Gabriel plot this too was discovered in time. Two centuries later you can read Mr. Bernstein’s disappointment between the lines.
“By late May, Vesey’s men had secretly made hundreds of pikes, bayonets, and daggers; his artisans had manufactured bullets; his followers had stolen a keg of gunpowder and obtained a length of fuse; and they had plans to assault armories and steal guns.
“The planned assault involved five groups of armed slaves converging on Charleston from differing directions, and a sixth company, a cavalry, to sweep the streets ... The only whites to be left alive in Charleston were sea captains whose harbored vessels were to be commandeered and deployed for escape to Haiti.”
Again it’s doubtful there was authentic “America’s revolutionary spirit” in this affair. The fact that Vesey took the Saint Domingue uprising as a model tells against it.
To the African church parishioners of Charleston, Vesey “presented himself as a messianic Christian who spoke in terms of an Old Testament deliverance of blacks from their bondage.” (Quoting the book Denmark Vesey by David M. Robertson.) To persuade blacks to join his planned insurrection Visey resorted to (Robertson quotes from the judicial summary of his trial) “Religion, hope, fear, and deception ... as the occasion required. All were told ... that God approved of their designs; those whose fears would have restrained them, were forced to yield by threats of death; those whom prudence and foresight induced them to pause, were cheered with the assurance that assistance from Santa Domingo [Haiti] and Africa were at hand. ... vast numbers of the Africans firmly believed that Gullah Jack [Vesey’s right-hand man, from Angola, Africa] was a sorcerer; that he could neither be killed [n]or taken; and that whilst they retained the charms which he had distributed they would themselves be invulnerable.” -oOo-
Now for the main feature, Nat Turner. As if to emphasize his prominence, at the top of Mr. Bernstein’s article – above the title “Black Slaves Who Could Have Been American Founders” – is a 19th century engraving of Turner, a light dress sword hanging from his belt, confronted by a Virginian with a rifle.
This time Mr. Bernstein will not be disappointed. The very fact that there was little planning or preparation helped the attack succeed.
The place was Southampton county in southeast Virginia. The soil there was unsuitable for extensive tobacco or cotton planting and most all farms were small. The county contained seventeen hundred free blacks. It was nothing like the wealthy Scarlet O’Hara setting in Atlanta three states to the south and a generation later.
Nat Turner was a slave and also a lay Baptist preacher in a slave church. In 1825 he began having psychotic visions presaging a slave revolt to be led by him. On May 12, 1828 a “spirit” told him (quoting his confession) “the time was fast approaching when the first should be last and the last should be first,” and that a sign in the heavens would tell him when he could let other slaves know about it, until then he must keep quiet. On February 12, 1831 there was an eclipse of the sun. He understood this to be the sign, and told four trusted slaves about his visions. After much discussion they decided to begin what he called “the work of death” on the 4th of July, a holiday. Considering the work the choice was sarcastic mockery. But then, according to his confession, the effort of forming and rejecting various schemes caused him to fall ill and he put off the attack. On August 13 a discoloration of the sun together with a large sunspot, another mystic sign, determined him to proceed.
He began the attack on the evening of Sunday, August 21 – he was a few days shy of age 31 – with a band of seven blacks armed with hatchets and machetes. Before it is over the small group will grow to over 60, including several free blacks, and they will have murdered 55 whites – 12 men, 18 women, and 25 children – most of them hacked to death.
Turner acted as enabler; he himself didn’t participate much in the killing directly. He killed Margaret Whitehead, age 18 (counted among the adults above), chasing her out into a field and bludgeoning her to death with a fence rail. Earlier he had tried to kill Mrs. Newsome in her home by beating her over the head with the light dress sword he had decorated himself with (stolen from an earlier victim’s house) but the blade was not massive or sharp enough to kill her. His “lieutenant” named Will, whom Turner referred to as “the executioner,” finished the job with an axe.
Along the way, besides the slaves who joined the revolt voluntarily, the gang took several slaves by force, probably out of fear they would betray the insurrection. To quote one witness, these slaves “were constantly guarded by negroes with guns who were ordered to shoot them if they attempted to escape.”
At many of the homesteads, after killing any white occupants the gang would raid the store of brandy cider. Writes the historian Stephen B. Oates,  “even at its zenith Turner’s army showed signs of disintegration. A few reluctant slaves had already escaped or deserted. And many others were roaring drunk, so drunk they could scarcely ride their horses, let alone do any fighting.”
Within two days the local militia had suppressed the rebellion. The hapless Turner fled but was captured about two months later.
Mr. Bernstein weighs in on the hacked up youngsters:
“If Turner and his men were guilty of killing children – and if Vesey and others planned to perpetrate the same atrocities – it wa—”Hold it right there Bernstein. If ? There is no “ if ” here. Turner and his men murdered over two dozen children, including more than one infant. As for Vesey’s gang, “The only whites to be left alive in Charleston ...” etc. wouldn’t have left much hope for the children of Charleston either.
Let’s not be squeamish. Turner’s rebellion began with the initial group of seven sneaking into the house of Turner’s master, Joseph Travis. There they axed Travis, his wife, her nine-year-old son, and a hired hand as they slept in their beds. After the men left and talked among themselves they realized no one had gotten Mrs. Travis’ baby, which Turner knew was in the house, so Turner ordered two of his men to return. They killed the infant and threw it in the fireplace.
As the group swept across the countryside it grew by accretion, butchering whites and collecting slaves. Mr. Bernstein continues:
“... it was the hideous institution of slavery that established a context in which such horrific acts were conceived and perpetrated.”He said the magic word ! The murder and mayhem was all the Virginians’ fault. White #1 owns black #1. In that context it’s OK for black #2 to kill any white he can find, children and babies included. Mr. Bernstein then claims this follows from Ayn Rand’s metaphor (in Galt’s speech) “morality ends where a gun begins” and that regarding Vesey and Turner,
“their actions in pursuit of freedom cannot objectively be condemned.”According to this “Objectivist” the horrific acts were praiseworthy. Like other Cultural Leftists Mr. Bernstein sees Turner not as a villain but as a hero.
Though most historians are willing to cut Aristotle some slack for supporting slavery in light of his other good work, the slaves of Ancient Greece ought to have bludgeoned him to death.
Mr. Bernstein prefaces his hosannas to Gabriel, Visey and Turner with this bit of Objectivist-sounding rhetoric (italics his):
“The purpose here is ... to focus on the meaning of the rebellions, the ideas that gave rise to them, and the nature of the men who understood those ideas sufficiently to act on the ideal of ‘Give me liberty or give me death!’ ” 
He concludes his article:
“The black men who led slave rebellions in early America understood the principles of individual rights and liberty as well as did the abolitionists among the Founding Fathers, and perhaps more clearly than did the ... Virginians. Were it not for [their race] ... these black freedom fighters could have been among the Founders and/or leaders of the American Republic.”Turner was a ... I’ll think of the best word that describes him in a moment, it’s on the tip of my tongue; in the meantime, for more evidence of Turner’s character read a selection from Prof. Oates’ account of the rebellion based on contemporary witnesses,  and if you have time, the section of Turner’s confession that describes his part in the affair, noting the manner in which he describes it.  These selections are placed in footnotes because of their length.
If Gabriel, Visey and Turner really had been the towering intellects Mr. Bernstein makes them out to be they would have realized that black success could not be the work of mass slaughter, and that a violent uprising of blacks would fail, leading to reprisals – as the Turner “rebellion” did during the hysteria that followed. 
The subject of the slave rebellions is difficult to write about because neither side was good. Mr. Bernstein has half a point. Slavery is indefensible. The Virginians were wrong to continue the practice they were born into of bringing black slaves into the country (begun in a small way by the British during colonial times). The 18th and 19th century slave buyers were the cheap labor businessmen of their day. (Today they invite immigrants.)
The Virginians were wrong to import yet more slaves, and stupid for failing to realize that in consequence – as blacks neared a majority in certain areas – insurrection was bound to happen. They tried to pretend they were in loco parentis for blacks, benevolent overseers instead of 24 / 7 jailkeepers complete with trusties. Yes, ultimately the Virginians did inflict Nat Turner on themselves, but that doesn’t make what he did good, or excuse it, any more than the acts of the regime of Louis XVI excuse those of Robespierre. Contrary to Mr. Bernstein, Turner and his gang can and ought to “objectively be condemned.”
Mr. Bernstein is Charles Dickens in reverse. In The Tale of Two Cities Dickens excoriated those responsible for the Reign of Terror. Mr. Bernstein praises their analogue in Nat Turner.
What did Mr. Bernstein expect would be the reaction to Turner’s gang decapitating a group of white children outside their schoolhouse? [7 again] That the Virginians would say to themselves: Golly, how hideous we have been. These blacks are no savages, they deserve to be free and live among us as neighbors ?
Suppose, in some fantasy, Turner’s gang had grown without limit and managed to butcher every white man, woman and child in America – as the blacks of Saint Domingue had done in that country – so that white opinion no longer mattered because it didn’t exist. Mr. Bernstein would have you believe that Nat Turner and his ilk, those vast intellects, could have built a better America with themselves as its people.
Mr. Bernstein is a Leftist in the way it really matters, a Cultural Leftist. His puffing an articulate – now I’ve got it – an articulate psychopath into an intellectual hero superior even to Jefferson and Paine is a new low in Official Objectivist bunkum.-oOo-
In the last few years a new movie genre has appeared, the anti-white snuff film. These are Leftist daydreams in which angry non-whites go around righteously slaughtering whites. A line from one of these films, Django Unchanged (2012), illustrates the atmosphere. It is uttered by the main character, a black presented as a heroic figure:
Another in the genre is Machete (2010). In that movie the heroic white-killer is hispanic. A movie glorifying Seung-Hui Cho and Gang Lu has yet to be made.
Kill white folks and they pay you for it? What’s not to like
Then there is The Birth of a Nation (2016, produced by Nate Parker), the title mocking the title of D. W. Griffith’s silent movie of 1915 featuring Lillian Gish. The story is a sympathetic portrayal of the Nat Turner Rebellion just described. Like all Leftists Parker has no respect whatever for facts. The movie glorifies Turner, who in the movie is friendly and sociable, and misrepresents antebellum Southerners, who in the movie flog or starve valuable slaves almost to death, etc. 
Mr. Bernstein’s article has two things in common with Parker’s movie: both promote white guilt and both promote black violence. The following is from a favorable review of the movie, published in the magazine The New Republic: 
“... Parker makes the case that all white Americans watching his movie are connected to slavery – that we all, in some small way, have it coming.”Mr. Bernstein makes the same case; the above is the effect of his article, with a slight modification: to those who oppose Third World immigration, you have it coming. Like the anti-white snuff films, he pumps self-esteem into looters and killers.
All our lives moralizing Leftists have pushed in our face the everlasting virtue of non-whites. Perhaps the Colonizationists – whose response to the Nat Turner Rebellion was to seek the deportation of slaves to a free African colony – had the right idea. (The Colonization movement was also known as the Back-to-Africa movement and Black Zionism.  ) Not only could the Bernsteins have seen what blacks can do unfettered by evil whites (not that nature hasn’t tried the experiment), we would have been spared an unending stream of “whites are ugly, non-whites are beautiful” movies and articles stretching back to the late 1940s.
Mr. Bernstein’s incompetent scholarship and anti-Americanism makes one wonder what it is about Objectivism that ever attracted him to it. Not its intellectual content, he doesn’t know what epistemology means outside of parroting snippets from the Ayn Rand Lexicon. All he gets from Objectivism is its moral language, certain words and phrases – crucial, profound, context, brilliant, individual rights – disconnected from the philosophy. In his hands Objectivist rhetoric can promote whatever he wants, be it the Iraq War,  open immigration,  or the mental outlook of a psychopath and the behavior of savages.
1 “Black Slaves Who Could Have Been American Founders” by Andrew Bernstein, The Objective Standard vol. 10 no. 4 (winter 2015-2016 edition).
Mr. Bernstein adamantly opposes the idea that America is a white ethnostate so it’s amusing to see the cover of the issue of The Objective Standard in which his article appeared. It consists of the magazine title, the words “ISRAEL: To Be, Or Not To Be” and a pair of maps of Israel. The map on the left – the To Be option – is cut from the white and powder blue Israeli flag with its star of David, representing jewish control. The map on the right – the Not To Be option – is cut from a page of the Koran (I guess), the paper black and the arabic letters gray, representing jewish demise.
2 Mr. Bernstein relies on the book American Negro Slave Revolts by Herbert Aptheker for some if not all of what he says about Gabriel Prosser. Aptheker was a decades-long leader, propagandist and chief theoretician of the U.S. Communist Party (CPUSA). He lied about and defended the crimes of Stalin. In 1950 he praised North Korea as a democracy. In 1957 he wrote a book lying about and defending the Soviet invasion of Eastern Europe. In 1965 he visited North Vietnam (a communist enemy the U.S. military was at war with) afterwards saying in Mission to Hanoi (1966, published by International Publishers, the publishing arm of the CPUSA) that the Communists wanted peace. Aptheker was an intellectual version of the NYT reporter Walter Duranty. If he said the sky was blue you would need to look outside. The aim of everything Aptheker ever wrote was the destruction of capitalism.
According to Mr. Bernstein (referencing Aptheker) Gabriel “intended to create a silk flag emblazoned with his motto: ‘Death or Liberty’.” How many tyrannies from the French Revolution onward, including Dessalines’ Haiti dictatorship, have been established under the banner of “Liberty.”
3 This history is super-condensed from The Haitian People by Prof. James Leyburn.
The Haitian revolution succeeded in defeating the whites because Haiti was a black / amerindian country to begin with, the whites were the aliens. In America it was the blacks who were the aliens.
4 Mr. Bernstein accepts the usual history of the Vesey affair and I have gone along with it in my commentary. Historians debate among themselves whether in fact the plot existed.
If the plot to kill every white in Charleston didn’t exist then by Leftist standards Vesey ceases to be a hero. However, all that matters here is that Mr. Bernstein believes in the plot.
5 Quoting from “Children of Darkness” (American Heritage October 1973) by Stephen B. Oates, then Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
6 Underneath our ellipsis Mr. Bernstein says that it is not his purpose to “recount ... all the myriad horrors involved.” Comment: The horrors weren’t “involved” they were perpetrated, and he recounts none of them.
The introductory blurb for Mr. Bernstein’s article, by the editor of The Objective Standard , Craig Biddle:
“In ‘Black Slaves Who Could Have Been American Founders’, Andrew Bernstein examines three major slave rebellions in early America, showing that the men who led them – Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey, and Nat Turner – did so explicitly on the same principles that the Founding Fathers revolted against Great Britain. This is a vital and underappreciated aspect of U.S. history, demonstrating the importance of principles and the consequences of compromising them. Dr. Bernstein’s article, which places these freedom fighters in proper moral and historic perspective, is at once a fascinating read and a profound act of justice.”
A profound act of justice. Doesn’t that just take the cake?
7 The following is from – see footnote 5 above – “Children of Darkness” by Stephen B. Oates (my exterior quote marks omitted):
As Turner’s column moved relentlessly toward Jerusalem [the county seat of Southampton] one Levi Waller, having heard that the blacks had risen, summoned his children from a nearby schoolhouse (some of the other children came running too) and tried to load his guns. But before he could do so, Turner’s advance horsemen swept into his yard, a whirlwind of axes and swords, and chased Waller into some tall weeds. Waller managed to escape, but not before he saw the blacks cut down his wife and children. One small girl also escaped by crawling up a dirt chimney, scarcely daring to breathe as the insurgents decapitated the other children – ten in all – and threw their bodies in a pile.
And so it went throughout that malignant night, as the rebels took farm after farm by surprise. They used no firearms, in order not to arouse the countryside, instead stabbing and decapitating their victims. ... By dawn on Monday there were fifteen insurgents – nine on horses – and they were aimed with a motley assortment of guns, clubs, swords, and axes. Turner himself now carried a light dress sword
At Elizabeth Turner’s place, which the slaves stormed at sunrise, ... They broke into the house, and there, in the middle of the room, too frightened to move or cry out. stood Mrs. Turner and a neighbor named Mrs. Newsome. Nat knew Elizabeth Turner very well, for she was the widow of his second master, Samuel Turner. While Will attacked her with his axe the prophet [as Turner called himself] took Mrs. Newsome’s hand and hit her over the head with his sword. ... Finally Will moved him aside and chopped her to death as methodically as though he were cutting wood.
With the sun low in the east, Turner sent a group on foot to another farm while he and Will led the horsemen at a gallop to Caty Whitehead’s place. They surrounded the house in a rush, but not before several people fled into the garden. Turner chased after somebody, but it turned out to be a slave girl, as terrified as the whites, and he let her go. All around him, all over the Whitehead farm, there were scenes of unspeakable violence. He saw Will drag Mrs. Whitehead kicking and screaming out of the house and almost sever her head from her body. Running around the house, Turner came upon young [age 18] Margaret Whitehead hiding under a cellar cap between two chimneys. She ran crying for her life, and Turner set out after her – a wild chase against the hot August sun. He overtook the girl in a field and hit her again and again with his sword, but she would not die. In desperation he picked up a fence rail and beat her to death.
8 Here we quote from Turner’s self-righteous account of the rebellion as told to Thomas R. Gray, an attorney, over the course of three days (November 1 - 3, 1831) while in prison awaiting trial. Gray says in his introduction that he committed Turner’s statements to paper “with little or no variation, from his own words.” When this document was read to Turner at his trial in Jerusalem, Virginia (the Southampton county seat) on November 5, he acknowledged it to be an accurate transcription.
I have silently clarified punctuation (omitting extraneous commas, replacing some semicolons and dashes with periods to make separate sentences of separate statements), divided long paragraphs, and corrected or modernized the spelling of a few words. The original contained some parenthetical remarks by Gray, which I removed. Notes of my own are in square brackets.
Before Turner gets to the insurrection he says something of his boyhood. Noteworthy is that religion “principally occupied my thoughts.” He seems full of himself (my exterior quote marks omitted):
I was not addicted to stealing in my youth, nor have ever been. Yet such was the confidence of the negroes in the neighborhood, even at this early period of my life, in my superior judgment, that they would often carry me with them when they were going on any roguery, to plan for them.
Turner says other negroes thought “my superior judgement” was “perfected by Divine inspiration. ... 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.” About the insurrection:
Since the commencement of 1830 I had been living with Mr. Joseph Travis, who was to me a kind master, and placed the greatest confidence in me; in fact, I had no cause to complain of his treatment to me. On Saturday evening, the 20th of August, it was agreed between Henry, Hark and myself, to prepare a dinner the next day for the men we expected, and then to concert [i.e., arrange by mutual agreement] a plan, as we had not yet determined on any. Hark, on the following morning, brought a pig, and Henry brandy, and being joined by Sam, Nelson, Will and Jack, they prepared in the woods a dinner, where, about three o’clock, I joined them.
... it was quickly agreed we should commence at home [i.e., Travis’ house] on that night, and until we had armed and equipped ourselves, and gathered sufficient force, neither age nor sex was to be spared. We remained at the feast until about two hours in the night, when we went to the house and found Austin. They all went to the cider press and drank, except myself.
On returning to the house, Hark went to the door with an axe, for the purpose of breaking it open, as we knew we were strong enough to murder the family, if they were awaked by the noise. But reflecting that it might create an alarm in the neighborhood, we determined to enter the house secretly, and murder them whilst sleeping. Hark got a ladder and set it against the chimney, on which I ascended, and hoisting a window, entered and came downstairs, unbarred the door, and removed the guns from their places. It was then observed that I must spill the first blood. On which, armed with a hatchet, and accompanied by Will, I entered my master’s chamber. It being dark, I could not give a death blow, the hatchet glanced from his head, he sprang from the bed and called his wife. It was his last word; Will laid him dead, with a blow of his axe. And Mrs. Travis shared the same fate, as she lay in bed. The murder of this family, five in number, was the work of a moment, not one of them awoke. There was a little infant sleeping in a cradle that was forgotten, until we had left the house and gone some distance, when Henry and Will returned and killed it.
We got here four guns that would shoot and several old muskets, with a pound or two of powder. We remained some time at the barn, where we paraded. I formed them in a line as soldiers, and after carrying them through all the maneuvers I was master of, marched them off to Mr. Salathul Francis’, about six hundred yards distant.
Sam and Will went to the door and knocked. Mr. Francis asked who was there. Sam replied, it was him, and he had a letter for him, on which he got up and came to the door. They immediately seized him, and dragging him out a little from the door, he was dispatched by repeated blows on the head; there was no other white person in the family.
We started from there for Mrs. Reese’s, maintaining the most perfect silence on our march, where finding the door unlocked, we entered, and murdered Mrs. Reese in her bed, while sleeping. Her son awoke ... he had only time to say “who is that,” and he was no more.
From Mrs. Reese’s we went to Mrs. Turner’s, a mile distant, which we reached about sunrise, on Monday morning. Henry, Austin, and Sam went to the still, where, finding Mr. Peebles, Austin shot him, and the rest of us went to the house. As we approached, the family discovered us, and shut the door. ... Will, with one stroke of his axe, opened it, and we entered and found Mrs. Turner and Mrs. Newsome in the middle of a room, almost frightened to death. Will immediately killed Mrs. Turner, with one blow of his axe. I took Mrs. Newsome by the hand, and with the sword I had when I was apprehended, I struck her several blows over the head, but not being able to kill her, as the sword was dull. Will turning around and discovering it, dispatched her also.
A general destruction of property and search for money and ammunition, always succeeded the murders. By this time my company amounted to fifteen, and nine men mounted, who started for Mrs. Whitehead’s (the other six were to go through a byway to Mr. Bryant’s and rejoin us at Mrs. Whitehead’s). As we approached the house we discovered Mr. Richard Whitehead standing in the cotton patch, near the lane fence. We called him over into the lane, and Will, the executioner, was near at hand, with his fatal axe, to send him to an untimely grave. As we pushed on to the house, I discovered someone run round the garden, and thinking it was some of the white family, I pursued them. But finding it was a servant girl belonging to the house, I returned to commence the work of death ... all the family were already murdered, but Mrs. Whitehead and her daughter Margaret.
As I came round to the door I saw Will pulling Mrs. Whitehead out of the house, and at the [door] step he nearly severed her head from her body with his broad axe. Miss Margaret, when I discovered her, had concealed herself in the corner formed by the projection of the cellar cap from the house. On my approach she fled, but was soon overtaken, and after repeated blows with a sword, I killed her by a blow on the head with a fence rail.
By this time, the six who had gone by Mr. Bryant’s, rejoined us, and informed me they had done the work of death assigned them. We again divided, part going to Mr. Richard Porter’s, and from thence to Nathaniel Francis’, the others to Mr. Howell Harris’, and Mr. T. Doyles.
On my reaching Mr. Porter’s, he had escaped with his family. I understood ... that the alarm had already spread, and I immediately returned to bring up those sent to Mr. Doyles, and Mr. Howell Harris’; the party I left going on to Mr. Francis’, having told them I would join them in that neighborhood.
I met these sent to Mr. Doyles’ and Mr. Harris’ returning, having met Mr. Doyle on the road and killed him; and learning from some who joined them that Mr. Harris was [away] from home, I immediately pursued the course taken by the party gone on before. But knowing they would complete the work of death and pillage at Mr. Francis’ before I could [get] there, I went to Mr. Peter Edwards’, expecting to find them there, but they had been here also. I then went to Mr. John T. Barrow’s. They had been here and murdered him. I pursued on their track to Capt. Newit Harris’, where I found the greater part mounted, and ready to start. The men now amounting to about forty, shouted and hurrahed as I rode up, some were in the yard, loading their guns, others drinking. They said Captain Harris and his family had escaped; the property in the house they destroyed, robbing him of money and other valuables. I ordered them to mount and march instantly. This was about nine or ten o’clock, Monday morning.
I proceeded to Mr. Levi Waller’s, two or three miles distant. I took my station in the rear ... I placed fifteen or twenty of the best armed and most to be relied on, in front, who generally approached the houses as fast as their horses could run. ...
On this account I never got to the houses, after leaving Mrs. Whitehead’s, until the murders were committed, except in one case. I sometimes got in sight in time to see the work of death completed, viewed the mangled bodies as they lay, in silent satisfaction, and immediately started in quest of other victims. Having murdered Mrs. Waller and ten children, we started for Mr. William Williams’ – having killed him and two little boys that were there. While engaged in this, Mrs. Williams fled and got some distance from the house, but she was pursued, overtaken, and compelled to get up behind one of the company, who brought her back, and after showing her the mangled body of her lifeless husband, she was told to get down and lay by his side, where she was shot dead.
I then started for Mr. Jacob Williams, where the family were murdered. Here we found a young man named Drury, who had come on business with Mr. Williams. He was pursued, overtaken and shot.
Mrs. Vaughan was the next place we visited, and after murdering the family here, I determined on starting for Jerusalem.
Our number amounted now to fifty or sixty, all mounted and armed with guns, axes, swords and clubs. On reaching Mr. James W. Parkers’ gate, immediately on the road leading to Jerusalem, and about three miles distant, it was proposed to me to call there, but I objected, as I knew he was gone to Jerusalem, and my object was to reach there as soon as possible. But some of the men having relations at Mr. Parker’s it was agreed that they might call and get his people. I remained at the gate on the road, with seven or eight, the others going across the field to the house, about half a mile off. After waiting some time for them, I became impatient, and started to the house for them, and on our return we were met by a party of white men, who had pursued our blood-stained track, and who had fired on those at the gate, and dispersed them, which I new nothing of, not having been at that time rejoined by any of them.
Immediately on discovering the whites I ordered my men to halt and form, as they [i.e., the whites] appeared to be alarmed. The white men, eighteen in number, approached us in about one hundred yards, when one of them fired ... I discovered about half of them retreating. I then ordered my men to fire and rush on them. The few remaining stood their ground until we approached within fifty yards, when they fired and retreated. We pursued and overtook some of them who we thought we left dead [but were not]. After pursuing them about two hundred yards, and rising a little hill, I discovered they were met by another party, and had halted, and were reloading their guns. ... As I saw them reloading their guns, and more coming up than I saw at first, and several of my bravest [brave as in smashing infants and decapitating schoolchildren?] men being wounded, the others became panic struck and squandered [i.e., scattered] over the field. The white men pursued and fired on us several times. Hark had his horse shot under him, and I caught another for him as it was running by me.
It was downhill from there. Turner escaped and hid in holes scraped in the ground under fallen trees and other debris. He was captured two months later.
During the course of the interview, when Gray asked him “Do you not find yourself mistaken now?” Turner replied: “Was not Christ crucified?”
For further horrors, such as insurrectionists drinking the blood of a man who had fought them to death, enabling his wife to escape; and for accounts of blacks who were loyal to whites; see The Southampton Insurrection by William Sidney Drewry, Chapter II. Because Mr. Bernstein sweeps these events under his context rug I’ll mention one more act of Mr. Bernstein’s “freedom fighters” (quoting the Drewry book, my exterior quote marks omitted):
Two little boys named Brown, nephews of Mr. Francis, lived with him. He was their guardian, since both of their parents were dead. The younger of them, about three years of age, was standing in the lane as the negroes rode up, and ran to meet them, begging that he might ride, as he had probably often done of the plowmen as they returned from their work. He was taken up, to be cast down with his head severed from his body. At this sight his eight-year-old brother, who was hid near by in the weeds of the barn-yard, screamed out. He was caught, and suffered the fate of his brother.
9 The reaction of some people back then to the attack of 1831 was like the reaction of some people today to the attack of 2001.
The Turner - Bin Laden analogy also works in another sense: that which is explicable can still be inexcusable.
10 These anti-white snuff films are part of the larger anti-white Cultural Leftist program. See Immigration Enthusiasts on this website.
One gimmick Parker used to promote his The Birth of a Nation was a reproduction of the poster for D. W. Griffith’s movie defaced by the sprayed on graffiti “Nat Turner Lives.”
11 “The Birth of a Nation’s Blunt-Force Trauma” by Tim Grierson, The New Republic October 6, 2016. Such a cute title given the subject matter.
12 In the north there was the American Colonization Society that promoted the voluntary migration of free blacks to Africa. In 1822 they founded the colony of Liberia on the west African coast. By mutual agreement the colony became an independent country in 1847.
13 See Honoring Virtue on this website.
14 See ARI on Immigration on this website.