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August 21st 1831: Nat Turner’s rebellion begins

On this day in 1831 the Virginian slave Nat Turner began the deadliest slave rebellion the United States had ever seen, which resulted in the deaths of 55 whites. Turner, a slave preacher, had come to believe that God intended for him to lead a black uprising against the injustice of slavery. In the evening of August 21st 1831, Turner and his co-conspirators met in the woods to make their plans and early the next morning began the rebellion by killing Turner’s master’s family. Turner and his men, who soon numbered over 80, then went from house to house assaulting the white inhabitants. Eventually a local militia, and then federal and state troops, confronted the rebels and dispersed the group. Turner himself initially evaded capture but was captured on October 30th. Subsequently Turner, along with over fifty other rebels, was executed. However the retribution for Nat Turner’s rebellion did not end there. The uprising sent shockwaves across the South, and while full scale rebellion such as Turner’s was rare in the Deep South due to the rigid enforcement of the slave system, caused widespread fear of another rebellion. In the ensuing hysteria over 200 innocent black slaves were killed by white mobs. Turner’s rebellion came close to ending slavery in Virginia, as in its wake the state legislature considered abolishing the ‘peculiar institution’. However the measure was voted down and instead the state decided to increase plantation discipline and limit slaves’ autonomy even further by banning them from acting as preachers and learning to read. Similar measures were adopted across the slave-holding South and thus Nat Turner’s rebellion increased the South’s commitment to slavery, despite undermining the pro-slavery argument that it was a benevolent system and slaves were content. Turner has left behind a complicated legacy, with some seeing him as an African-American hero and others as a religious fanatic and villain; his memory raises the eternal question of whether violence is justified to bring about necessary change.

The Supreme Court has issued a stay on an appeals court’s ruling striking down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban. That means same-sex marriages will NOT begin this week in Virginia, as planned and hoped for, but may eventually take place after further court review.

The court adds that if the court ends up declining a writ of certiorari to hear the case, the stay will terminate automatically. But if the court decides to hear the case, the stay will continue until judgment is issued. …

The decision to block the same-sex marriages from occurring overturns a decision from the Fourth Circuit, which refused to grant a stay on its decision striking down Virginia’s marriage ban.

But the high court’s decision to stay same-sex marriages in Virginia is consistent with other stay decisions it has issued in other states following rulings in favor of marriage equality.

Whomp. 

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