ARTICLE: Holden on African-American Children and the Southampton Rebellion of 1831

Vanessa M. Holden. “Generation, resistance, and survival: African-American children and the Southampton Rebellion of 1831.” Slavery & Abolition pp. 1-47 (2017)


Image Credit: The Granger Collection, New York

“The Southampton Rebellion of 1831, Nat Turner’s Rebellion, stands as the most famous slave rebellion in American History. Historians have studied the rebellion extensively often focusing on Turner’s biography, the incident’s violent sequence of events, and the wide social, cultural, and political impact of the rebellion. The most recent scholarship on the Southampton Rebellion focuses on the wider community that produced the violent event that resulted in the death of nearly 60 whites and an uncountable number of people of color. African-American children made up a significant demographic in antebellum Southampton. They were present everywhere, just as children were present in most antebellum communities. Yet their appearances in the trial records associated with the Southampton Rebellion are all but unstudied. The Southampton Rebellion was not the result of Nat Turner’s singular genius focused on immediate results. It was a rebellion constituted in the community with future liberation in mind. Children, the literal embodiment of slavery’s future, then were necessarily included and involved. This article engages the extensive court documents associated with the Southampton Rebellion’s aftermath to investigate the possible role of children in the rebellion and their significance to the resistance of enslaved communities.”


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