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1831 BLACK UPRISING News account / forerunner, NAT TURNER Affair

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Nestled away on the second page of this September 30, 1831 edition of the Portland [Maine] Adviser is a small but historically compelling Sept. 21, 1831 dispatch from the Fayetteville[N.C.] Observer offering The Conspiracy. – On Wednesday last, Nat was arrested but advises that the slave denies the charges against him. Two other men were arrested and two more runaways were apprehended near a meeting, about twelve miles south east from town. After the infliction of some punishment, they confessed that they had been sent ahead to get information by a small party of runaways, some of them armed. Though the article emphasizes that all seemed under control and that the incident, in the opinion of the writer, had been overstated in other news accounts, the correspondent advises that Women and children in several of the counties have fled to the swamps, from which, after a day or two, they emerge, wet, muddy, and half starved. Seeming protective of public opinion north of us the Fayetteville North Carolina writer laments that reports are extravagantand not having the shadow of foundation while at the same time advising in his report that; Thousands of militia have assembled in arms, even in the upper counties, which might have been supposed beyond the influence of the supposed danger.
While the author of this reported Black uprising fails to record a surname for the runaway leader Nat, (an all too common occurrence in a time when many slaves had no surname) the simple reference to Nat and date of this report (Sept. 21, 1831) in relation to the time frame of the historic Nat Turner Slave Rebellion in the fall of 1831 offers reasonable speculation. Is this period news account, found buried in the folds of a Northern New England newspaper, a record of activity of Nat Turner just days before the historic Slave Rebellion that carries his name to this day? Or is it a simple case of confusion by a correspondent and a melding together of occurrences in North Carolina with slave unrest lead by Nat Turner in boarding Southhampton County, Virginia ?
This offering is complete in four pages each measuring approximately 11 ½ X 17 inches offering, aside from the subject article, the usual mix of period newspaper fair of commercial adds, time tables &c with the usual smattering of articled intended to inform and entertain. Though trimmed at the left margin edge to be removed from a period binding, the old paper remains in excellent condition and all original with no tears or repairs. A nice piece of Americana. Thanks for visiting Gunsight Antiques!!





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