RCC Honors History Project

Trial of Nat Turner, Southampton County, 5 November 1831.

Posted by laurabrady91 on November 17, 2009

At a Court of Oyer and Terminer Summoned and held for the County of Southampton on Saturday the 5th day of November 1831 for the trial of Nat, alias Nat Turner, a negro man slave late the property of Peterson Moore, charged with conspiring to rebel and make innsurection-

The prisoner Nat, alias Nat Turner, was set to the Bar in custody of the Jailer of the County- and William C Parker is by the Court assigned Counsel for the Prisoner in his defence- and Merewether Brodnax Attorney for the Commonwealth filed an Information against the prisoner, who upon his arraignment pleaded not guilty.-  The Court after hearing the testimony and from all the circumstances of the case are unanimously of opinion that the prisoner is guilty in manner and form as in the Information against him is alledged, and it being demanded of him if anything for himself he had or knew to say why the Court to Judgement and execution against him of and upon the premises should not procede.  he said he had nothing but what he had before said- Therefore it is considered by the Court that he be taken hence to the Jail from whence he was taken therein, to remain until Friday the 11th day of November instant, on which day between the hours of ten oClock in the forenoon and four oClock in the afternoon he is to be taken by the Sheriff to the usual place of execution and then and there be hanged by the neck until he be dead- And the Court valued the said slave Nat to the sum of three hundred and seventy five dollars-

Teste  James Rochelle Cl

Governor’s Office, Letters Received, John Floyd, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.

Source: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/exhibits/DeathLiberty/natturner/trial.htm

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3 Responses to “Trial of Nat Turner, Southampton County, 5 November 1831.”

  1. sethrd23 said

    That final sentence seems almost like a punchline. “And the Court valued the said slave Nat to the sum of three hundred and seventy five dollars.” Maybe that amount was much higher then, but I can’t really imagine anyone reading this to a group of people and not seeing the irony in the fact that this man was able to create a legendary, violent rebellion against injustice on his person, but is only given the worth of an old mule. Throughout the whole document the court is treating this man as a serious threat to society, then they add that he is worth only 400 bucks. It seems like they would be able to see a disconnection there, but i guess the fact that they cant is more an issue of psychology.

    • elsiegonzalez said

      I agree with Seth, what I also find interesting is “The Court after hearing the testimony and from all the circumstances of the case are unanimously of opinion that the prisoner is guilty in manner and form as in the Information against him is alledged…”. The Court openly admits that the accusations against him are indeed “alleged”, yet they have no difficulty in immediately setting an execution date for him, nor do they have any problem with the fact that it was “unanimously” agreed (based solely on “opinion”) that Turner was guilty . Although these allegations were true, it just surprises me how quickly these people were in demanding revenge for anything threatening done to their surroundings.

  2. elsiegonzalez said

    I agree with Seth, what I also find interesting is “The Court after hearing the testimony and from all the circumstances of the case are unanimously of opinion that the prisoner is guilty in manner and form as in the Information against him is alledged…”. The Court openly admits that the accusations against him are indeed “alleged”, yet they have no difficulty in immediately setting an execution date for him, nor do they have any problem with the fact that it was “unanimously” agreed (based solely on “opinion”) that Turner was guilty . Although these allegations were true, it just surprises me how quickly these people were in demanding revenge for anything threatening done to their surroundings.

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