Monograph – Nat Turner and John Brown
Monograph – Nat Turner and John Brown
By Bernadette Kalala
Texas Southern University
November 01, 2020.
Nat Turner was an American slave who later became a preacher. He made history as one of the bloodiest slave revolts in 1831. Turner claimed to have voices from God telling him that he should prepare to slay his enemies with their own weapons. He took the solar eclipse as a signal that the time had come for him and the rest of the slaves to raise up. He organized several slaves to continue the violent spree throughout the country. He intended to reach the county seat of Jerusalem and take the armory but were overpowered by armed white men. Turner escaped and went into hiding. Following the insurrection, Turner went into hiding for six weeks, but he was eventually caught and hanged on November 11, 1831. His death led to the end of the emancipation movement in the region and also saw the enactment of harsher laws against the slaves. Based on this, Turner was significant in the United States slavery since he led a violent rebellion aimed at setting the black people free.
On the other hand, John Brown was a key figure in the abolitionist movement before the Civil War in the United States. Brown was not like many of the abolitionists, as he was not a pacifist. He believed in aggressive action against slaveholders as well as any government officials who played a crucial role in slave ownership. Previous to joining the anti-slavery campaign, Brown was an entrepreneur who ran tannery and cattle trading businesses. He got the inspiration to join the anti-slavery movement following the brutal murder of Presbyterian minister and anti-slavery activist Elijah p. Lovejoy in 1837. It is at this point that he consecrated his life to the destruction of slavery. Therefore, John Brown played a significant role in leading a violent revolt as a white man to abolish slavery. In 1859, he was executed on charges of murder, treason, and insurrection.
Turner and Brown had a lot of similarities as well as differences in their fight against slavery in the United States. One of the similarities is that they both used violence against white people, especially the slave owners. None of them was happy about the way black people were treated by the white people, and this is the reason why they took action. Another similarity between the two is that they were executed for treason and murder. Besides, both were sentenced to death by hanging. Regarding the differences, Nat Turner was different in that he obtained his motivation to join anti-slavery from the call of God. He claimed to see visions and hear voices from God who told him what to do and when to attack. On the other hand, John Brown was an entrepreneur before he became an abolitionist, unlike Turner, who was a preacher. Brown received motivation after witnessing a brutal murder of Elijah Lovejoy, an anti-slavery activist. Based on this, it is evident that both Turner and Brown were similar and different, despite coming from different races. Turner was a slave from the south, and Brown was a white man from the North.
Turner and Brown’s actions were argued as being equally inhuman as the institution of slavery, especially Turner, who had been enslaved at birth. However, Turner and Brown’s actions were justified as they were retaliating to the wrath of the white slave owners who used violence to brutally undermine the people of color. Both used the concept of retributive justice in which a crime had to be punished with an equal magnitude, and since the white slave owners were responsible for most of the violence in the country, they were targeted first. Slave owners killed and maimed slaves without empathy and also did the same to any person who went against them. For example, Elijah Lovejoy was brutally murdered simply because he was an abolitionist. Based on this, it was justified to turn ‘an eye for an eye’ type of revenge to help stop the brutality against the slaves and the black people in general. In the case of Turner, he had been enslaved from birth, and this means that he grew to witness the brutality and other inhuman acts performed by the slave masters. Based on this, he developed a hatred for white people, and when he, as the oppressed had the chance of revenge, he had to do it in the best way possible, killing more whites who had made his life miserable. Based on this, both Turner and Brown’s actions can be termed as justified.
Race played a substantial role in the legacy of Turner vs. Brown in that Turner was a black slave, and Brown was a white abolitionist. For blacks, it was justified to come up with strategies to help them out of oppression, and this is precisely what Turner did, becoming a preacher and receiving directions on what to do from God. However, it was uncommon for the whites to rise against other whites in defense of an inferior race, and this is what makes the case of Brown unique. Brown was empathetic and felt that the brutality imposed on the black people wasn’t justified. Since there were no other means to negotiate the abolition of slavery, he had to turn to violence. The race issue is remembered more favorably than other in that both white and blacks set up their differences and fought for the same course, and it is as a result of this that more people from the North began to oppose the Southern acts on slavery.
Although telling the story of a slave insurrectionist is not the history that most people care to talk about, Nat Turner should be remembered as a courageous person who organized his fellow slaves, enlightening them that what was being done to them was wrong, and the only way that they could overcome was by demonstrating that they are not a weak race. It is by this that he had to fight the white man and defeat him to show the rest of the slaves that it was possible to live without oppression. He was a hero to the African Americans as he initiated a revolution that caused alarm to the white people and government at large, compelling them to amend the laws and make them tighter for the slaves. The memory of Turner and Brown should be kept alive since they played a crucial role in the abolition course. It is by their brave actions that future abolitionists-such as Malcolm X followed. They are the pioneers of militarized abolitionists. Their rightful place in history should be the same as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. since they all played a crucial role towards a similar course, abolition of slavery and setting free of the black people.
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Easter, Chelsea E. “RACE AND THE REVOLUTIONARIES: HOW RACIAL IDENTITY HAS DETERMINED THE LEGACY OF NAT TURNER AND JOHN BROWN.” SU PPORTING CU LTURAL DI FFERENCES (2011): 706.
Reynolds, David S. John Brown, abolitionist: the man who killed slavery, sparked the Civil War, and seeded civil rights. Vintage, 2009.