In the summer of 1831, a band of some forty slaves led by Nat Turner attacked slave-owning residents of Southampton County, Virginia. One of the largest and most violent revolts in the history of the young nation, the rebellion took the lives of some sixty white men, women, and children. An outcry against the South's exploitative slave system, the revolt was suppressed within forty-eight hours, and Turner, who eluded authorities for months, was eventually captured, sentenced to death, and executed.
The impact of Turner's uprising was monumental. Abolitionists looked for ways to encourage and support future insurrections while white Southerners took revenge on both slave and free African-Americans. Nearly 200 blacks, many of whom had nothing to do with the rebellion, were beaten, tortured, and murdered by white mobs.
Herbert Aptheker's account of the bloodiest slave uprising in U.S. history was the first full-length study of its kind. Meticulously researched, it explores the nature of Southern society in the early nineteenth century and the conditions that led to the rebellion. Described by the Journal of American History as a thorough and scholarly treatment, the text includes Turner's Confessions, recorded before his execution in 1831. Plus, the events in this book helped inspire the acclaimed 2016 movie Birth of a Nation.