- Douglas R. Egerton
abolitionist and rebel, was born on the Virginia plantation of Benjamin Turner, the child of an enslaved woman named Nancy; the name of his father, also a slave, has not been recorded. Little is known about either parent. Family tradition holds that Nancy landed in Norfolk in 1795, the slave of a refugee fleeing the revolt in Saint Domingue (Haiti). Evidence indicates that after being purchased by Turner, Nancy was used as a domestic servant. Later in life, Nat Turner insisted that his father ran away when Nat was still a boy.
Early on blacks and whites alike came to regard Nat as unusually gifted Upon being given a book the boy quickly learned how to read a source of wonder to all in the neighborhood As a devout Methodist Benjamin Turner was not only aware of Nat s literacy he even encouraged him to read ...
A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.