tv The Civil War Nat Turners Rebellion CSPAN August 7, 2019 6:57pm-8:02pm EDT
very local. it has started locally even from some descendents. now we are beginning to see the park service recognizing and coming in and helping make this permanent. >> thank you. weeknights this month we feature american history tv programs as a preview of what is available every weekend. tonight a look at the post civil war reconstruction. starting with henry louis gates. he discusses constitutional amendments past during that time that aim to promote equality for african americans. he then examines the subsequent jim crow laws and other segregationist measures that were passed in southern states. watch american history tvs tonight starting at 8:00 eastern on c-span three. >> i look at the civil war
continues with other patrick breen on his book "the land shall be deluged in blood: a new history of the nat turner revolt" a new history of the nat turner revolt. this was part of the gettysburg college civil war institutes annual summer conference. it is about one hour. >> good morning. i am peter carmichael a member of the history department. i'm the director of the civil war institute. it is my pleasure this morning to introduce to you patrick breen who is an associate professor in history and classics at providence college. i should note he is also the father of one of our high school scholarship recipients from last year. patrick is the author of the land shall be dilution blood.
i can say to you it is one of the finest books that i have read in southern history in a very long time. it's a book that i have assigned to my undergraduates this spring. as we all know undergraduates are tough customers when it comes to books. they absolutely enjoyed his writing. it is a bold book, it is an important book. and one of the things that patrick and i talked about is that it is just a shame that one can go to southhampton county today were turner's remote took place. you will see some state signage but you will have no way of taking a driving tour to see the sights related to that important revolt. it truly is shocking. i know that patrick is trying
to do his part. he's trying to bring more awareness. if we have the opportunity we would take a bus to be able to look at the historic landscape that has changed radically. i believe he may be able to speak to this later but there is a single building that still survived from the revolt. is that true? >> there are some. >> okay. so it is a real pleasure to have patrick here. he will be speaking about his book about nat turner's revolt. [applause] >> thank you. thank you all for coming. this is a real honor and pleasure to be here.
coming to talk to you guys at the civil war institute is a real honor i also want to make a special welcome to the young people, the high school students that are here. my daughter actually applied and got into it last year and had a great experience. i want to encourage you because there are two things. my daughter wants to thank you for not inviting me last year. which is fair. second i want to tell you guys but i would tell my daughter but i wanted to my daughter this. you guys are at a great age. you will be looking at colleges and you will be doing things to reach out to people. this is a great opportunity to land about the life and mind.
find out what you are interested in. this is a really good opportunity. i think it is a fabulous thing. i want you guys to get in the habit because when you get to college you can be the person in the front row of college it is an unbelievable opportunity. >> am going to be talking about nat turner. here i am talking about gettysburg.
this is the place of the gettysburg address. so people come here unlike southhampton county web history also happened but people do not come. we do not have that. i guess we do. it is like with me and can get in together for drinks. it is not the same. anyway, how do i get you back in there? it is not like i can going to tell you more than you already know about 1863. let me start with this it is not the gettysburg address but it's the cooper union address. one of the most important speeches that he makes.
that we look at the civil war. it is right from the first battle. we have troops getting delivered by rail. it is a modern war. we have railroads. we have railroads.. a railroad. there it is. we are not in the world of railroads. nat turner was not that world. here is a map of road construction of the united states by decade. in 1830 there is nothing. and then there was like three dots. here are some thoughts by south carolina we see how advanced
pennsylvania is. there are no railroads. by 1860 the nation will be crossed by railroads. not crossed all the way but by 1867 it will be crossed all the way. railroad construction will explode. what they do have a sense is coming is the cotton revelation. in 1793 there will be a tremendous increase. as we move from to being able
to do short staple cotton. throughout the land of the south. cotton production is going to boom. the bottom one is cotton production in 1860. a tremendous amount of expansion in cotton production. just keep duin mind. the 1790 ride along the coast. there has been an incredible expansion of cotton. with the cotton production is going to come slavery.
i do not know where it is. here is what happened when you play with your slides late at night. we have all of these nice clients. i hope that they show up. i think that we will see what is in the slideshow later on. we will see a slideshow showing how the population will follow the cotton production in america. we have the industrial revolution happening. cotton will become the central ingredient of it. it will be the staple of the
industrial revolution. so what does that mean? pennsylvania is a free state. because they abolished slavery in 1780 -- 80 or 81. 1833? what is 1833. that is britain. so we are going to see massachusetts, pennsylvania. the first one that will abolish the slave trade is vermont. why are they the first one? they are a bunch of pirates. they want to make sure that the
new yorkers do not bring their slaves onto establish their claims to the land. the point is that slavery is in retreat. there is no doubt about this. they could not figure out how to tax the country. they did figure out how to keep slaves out of the northwest territories. they also have the constitution to prove that that will and the slave trade in america. they did not do it immediately but they did do it 20 years later. remember 1780s slavery is unattractive. you will see virginia moving away from slavery.
slavery is part of the world. that is not to say that there aren't opponents of slavery. the emancipation lot. new york cannot figure out how to emancipate their slaves. places with more slaves past. they do things like get rid of slavery. they have a small and significant population. everyone born. what about the
people who were born in 1799. when the civil war starts new jersey is a slave state. there are still slaves in new jersey. they never came back and abolished slavery. here we have what is new york pass? it passes and emancipation lot. in 1827 those people who are born before 1800 are going to be free. think about how small a step that is. this is not in richmond and charleston. this is not the kind of place where slavery, which did look through and everywhere with the french revolution and what was going on elsewhere it looked really threatened in the 1780s
and 1790s. by the 1820s it seems like it is there to stay. it is stable. that is going to lead many people, especially many black people to go out and try to start up what we now think of as modern abolition. you will see the freedom's journal and the first lack newspaper published in america in the united states. you will see david walker's appeal in 1829 calling for slaves to fight for their freedom. of course in 1831 you will see william lloyd garrison's delivery there. so we see this movement, this movement to start abolition. to start realizing that there has to be something done to stop this institution. it's not just going to wither
away and die. slavery is something that seems to be reestablished and more firmly established even though we are in this age of progress and this age of enlightenment. so that is 1831. now 1833 in england abolition is having much more success. keep that in mind. this reflects in part english slavery is sugar-based, not con based. it reflects the fact that england is freeing slaves and its colonies primarily jamaica but the thing that i want you to keep in mind is as there is movement against slavery and abolition it does not happen everywhere. in america, in southhampton
county slavery seems strong. strong in ways that i think we do not always imagine. yes these things are happening. this stuff is starting up but slavery seems and feels permanent. you can see this very well in the average price of a slave over the years before the civil war. what does this mschart show? this chart shows one you can see the peaks these are the panics that happened in the world economy. but what do you see? panics happen but slavery is
there. price of slaves is growing. as you know it is an all-time high in new orleans. this is not an institution that seems like it is going to leave this. >> subpoint one and then .2 where is hampton county. it is right there on the map. on the bottom sort of south of petersburg on the north carolina border. here is a map. i'm not sure how well it appears. the red dots are roughly -- i guess they are sort of orange
dots. they are roughly 50% slaves. here is the world. we have a lot of slaves. you have to remember that virginia is part of slavery. the cotton expansion is happening. the biggest plantations which have been in south carolina will move to places like mississippi and alabama. these plantations do not ever change. virginia's largest slaveholding states in the country in 1860. virginia has enormous slave population. if you are going to start a rebellion he need to know something about the demographics. what are the demographics in virginia. whites outnumber slaves 3-2.
>> slave revolts do not succeed. is it going to succeed in virginia 3-2 that is going to be tough. that is going to be really tough. but what about southhampton county. southhampton county actually has more slaves than whites. so it's not like the high schoolers. there are a lot of slaves in southhampton county. there are a lot of slaves. i also want to go back to the map of the con production. in 1820 you will see this con
production extending into southhampton county which is true. when we see where the slave production is going it will go along the mississippi river. this is also going to play an important role. we are going to see the shift of the slave population basically from the coast which is where it is in 1830 map to the mississippi river area. that is without taking the slave population away from from virginia. virginia still has the slave population. it is just the growth of the slave population. the important thing is than you cannot say what is the number of slaves in the country in 1830. what is the number of slaves in the country in 1860?
4 million. there has been an enormous growth in the slave population in the country. notice this. in southhampton the slaves escape i do not want to get my numbers reversed. the southhampton county population is going to go down because this is not a centerpiece of economic growth. con production will be moving away from southhampton county. the whites are moving away but the blacks are moving away even faster. how is that happening? it is the slave trade. think about it the slave population grew at the same rate the slave population grew elsewhere in the world what would happen to the slave population between 1830 and 1860. it would double. that 30% decline is
astonishing. it is really more like a 65% decline. relative to the growth. where is that population growth going? it's going to mississippi, louisiana, and georgia. what induced the slaves to rebel? one thing that may have induced this may be one of the things. what happened. his son had been mortgaged for
now they actually say that that proves that he did it. i think that is the right reading. things happen for lots of reasons. when you revel if you find out that a deadbeat has mortgage your son and you are never going to see him again it seems not a bad reason to rebel. >> what i want to talk about today is not the demographics. what induced the southhampton
insurrection. what induced the slaves to rebel? matt turner. they thought he was crazy. he was a complete fanatic the man who wrote down matt turner's confessions. they are readily available online and i encourage you to read it. one of the things my book does is it takes the confessions much more seriously than anybody has the last 50 years. i make arguments about the reliability of the confessions. my argument is that they actually are what they say they are which is basically what he said. it makes some really
remarkable. you can read them in about an hour. if you ever want to find out you can just read it online. so thomas gray thought he was a complete fanatic. newspaper reports said he was the same thing. a preacher and a pretend profit. of course this is a model of understanding that has lasted. it has been an important part of our way of understanding slave revolts. if you look at the confession which came back in 1967. he is still a little bit crazy. i think this is a way to understand the result because i
don't think that's true. >> i don't know if thomas gray actually believes that. so now we have it. one is that he is a fanatic and the other is a heroic figure. if anybody has seen the new movie which we saw together. it did not do well in the theaters but it is understanding the revolt. he is completely heroic. he does great things. this is not new. it goes back he is being a great teacher and the slaves
are enthralled. i want to tell you a little bit about what went down. i want to talk about how we have to think about that. that might make us think a little bit about how we feel about slaves. the first is the conspiracy. we have an eclipse of the sun. you can actually see the path of the eclipse. it is really awesome. nat turner says in the confession on the appearance the sign appearing in the heavens i committed great work laid out for me to do for the
greatest confidence. we have the eclipse. what i find interesting about this is who did nat turner tell? four. it is not a great number to start 1 billion. i would think 4 millionw4 is a little bit better. n why four? it is pretty clear. the newspaper article investigating this revolt found that the rebels decided not to tell more people because the word always leaked out. here is an interesting question. how did they study the history of this? what are they thinking about? they did know the history enough to know that slave revolts are hard.
you have a one person. what does ben franklin say about a secret. three can keep a secret as long as one instead. this is not an easy thing to do. just like you are the one nice person that i like. the slave rebellion his heart. two fanatics sit there and say i'm only going to tell four people? people who think about it they are the ones. is being cagey and smart. abraham lincoln knew it. he said the same thing. the word leaks out. so is he a fanatic? if i that human religious
person then maybe i guess. i'm not sure if he is fanatic in the sense -- i think when people say fanatic they mean a lot more than that. here he is telling them about the plan. one is he is not crazy and two is whites outnumber slaves 3-2 in virginia. if you can answer this please come to the microphone at the end and tell us and you are not allowed to use zombies in your answer. it is hard. it is not clear.
they do not have the same thing. they have the same worries. do you want to die in this political war. this is a really meaningful moment. matt turner does not see it in a political framework. so what does that mean? his group has expanded the five people total. they are looking at the result differently. some people are seeing this as a political move. this is one of the important lessons that we need to pass along.
people do things for different reasons. you don't want to say stuff like they like slaves but you want to be open to differences. if there are differences between five people are they following it blindly? they have their own interpretations. they will join because they want to. what did give him the confidence that it was time to begin? a new sign. the sun appeared blue. i am not one that is sort of into reading harbingers in the
they wanted to be sure that they cannot walk away. you take a swing and everyone knows that you are going to die. these people were not following him blindly. so what do they do? they go in and they kill the travis family. some of these pictures are from the wpa which is from 100 years later. this is just really a shock. they say come on out we have a message for you and they grabbed him and kill him. so they began taking advantage of surprise. then in the morning they start
going quickly. this is on the swing back. by this point in the morning there is nine on horseback and they are making their way back toward jerusalem. when they get to catherine whitehead's location which is bigger nat turner will end up killing the only person he killed which is margaret whitehead. a lot has been made of this. i think the explanation for this is a little bit symbol. nat turner was riding in the back of the general. he saw margaret whitehead
escape. so they are going as fast. so then nat turner reassembles the group. the ones on horseback. he said let's bring them together so we can fight back against one of the room responses. so once they realize the word has spread and the go to plantations that y have been abandoned they come together. they come together at the harris plantation and there are about 40 slaves. they are all excited about what
has happened. as they make their way towards jerusalem. they will kill women and children. the man on the farm escaped. that of course will be a big thing as people look and tell the stories about the brutality. ultimately they make it to about a mile away from jerusalem to parkers gate where they have a battle. it is still the battle from birth of a nation. the battle -- i should say the battle doesn't actually happen with anything like this. it is a complete mess up.
none of them know anything about what they are doing. everything goes wrong. it is a complete disaster. nat turner does not even know what happened when he is captured a couple of months later. he still does not know what happened that day. as it turns out the army ends up chasing off the field which sort of happened upon them. they ran into another group that heard the sounds of the battle. they dispersed. the next day the revolt falls apart. there is going to be tremendous amounts of the county up in arms. nat turner escapes. for the next two months he is away until mid-october.
i want to draw your attention to what was discovered. they go past the way where the cave was. the dog came out to the place. defense and felt that he had hidden in his hiding space. i spoke to them to back concealment in making myself none they fled from me. so what happens here. nat turner is like some blacks are out hunting with her dog in the middle of the night. they are out hunting on october 15 less than two months. what is going on. the revolt was quickly picked
down and immediately after the roseville they realize that the great danger was not from the blacks that were put down in about a day or two. there is nothing that they can do if they decided they wanted to kill all of them. the county was really much less than people thought. they needed to protect their property. they know immediately. they
will discover them. when he is finally captured and gives one of the great documents of american history. it is a really quick telling everything. what do i want to tell you about it? we want to be really careful about thinking about slavery as this simple answer. the ending of slavery will be a very complex event. some people will immediately some people will be seeing this in a religious framework.
if anyone has a question , we have time for questions, if anyone has a question come up to the microphone. hello, kirk carlson from illinois. question for you is you think or to what degree do you think that the fear of the slaves among white southerners, how that played into their fighting in the civil war in the postwar anti-reconstruction, you know? >> great question. i think , will first i think the fear is overrated just the
idea that slaveholders are immediately afraid. you know, when i see evidence that blacks are out hunting in the night blacks are out probably not with guns but with dogs but, out hunting. that is astonishing. so i don't want us to just immediately turn to the fear. fear is a very powerful emotion and people were afraid. . this prohibited whites from discriminating against blacks, a lot of whites were upset up the decision. they sent a letter to andrew jackson saying we actually need support, these guys are not taking this
seriously enough. don't you realize that every house has one of these potential killers and it called the houses of slaves, slaveholders everywhere. you could kill us anytime you want with this type of attack so there are people that are afraid and also people whose fear is different and i think for the slaveholders and one of the fears the slaveholders had is not the fear they will get there heads cut off but the one fear they have is that they will not be able to control the black population. they have complete control of the black population for slavery and you will see a hold on, what do we need to see and the interesting thing is and reconstruction the fear of blacks plays into social control
, they drum up all the blacks raping a white woman in and go out and kill and make sure black stay in place and don't vote or whatever but then the fear doesn't work that way. the fear of the slaveholders is that if we get so afraid of blacks killing whites. there's nothing that can be done. think about this, would you do if you go up and shoot a black person in 1831? i'm scared okay so they take you and indict you for murder to which you can get indicted for murdering a slave. okay and then you go out to a grand jury and say i thought it was not lost you know for there is no way you're getting convicted so the fear the slaveholders have is that they will lose control of the slave property the emotional stuff is
easily used and i think there's a fear of using social control . >> what we have for the confessions is nat turner as interpreted to us through gray, how do you vote this out to get to nat turner . >> actually when the project began, basically my start was to say this all the historians have been saying the last 50 years the nat turner are gray messes it up some way and we don't know where or how and i here nat turner's voice now and
i was gonna be more methodical it's all great until we hear otherwise. and as i pushed on it and begin to realize there's a lot in the confession that suggest it's not gray. and he tells his point of view and also puts in parenthetical comments we tells us point of view, you can see where the huge the viewpoints are different and you can see his viewpoints are different than nat turner's and so, one of the things, there are many reasons but i've come to see this as a more reliable account of the part in the middle that would be" i don't think it's an exact translation but it's pretty close and so that is something, one of the reasons why there's a great explosion after the
novel came out and that's the position, ignoring the question about the liability of and when that burned itself out no one wanted to touch the confessing. when i came back to the idea i think you can basically read it as not a production. it's pretty clear he's written this within three days of the capture of nat turner and its what i clear he hadn't written it before, i do get a fairly accurate account and he's well worth listening to . >> high.
riley from new york city. i was wondering what the extent to which the killing of women and children influence the negative feelings of turner it seems to wanting to kill people but another to attack an innocent schoolhouse . >> it's a great story in the queue for the question and there's a great story about this and obviously this is a bridge too far law professors are still writing about this. okay, it makes sense, he's a slave and you're justified in fighting back in in the fight back you're gonna kill people, okay. but, there's this moment were at the first house they go back and they slay an infant sleeping in the cradle. that infant wasn't gonna go up and sound the alarm, they talked about the rebels and there was one point of view and scare the the but jesus out of the mensch of the blacks that
we are not afraid of anything but another point of view and i think this is probably nat turner's point of view was that we should probably gilman and the women because they can't actually run even if they're not gonna fight. but nat turner loses that argument, i think. i'm not sure about that i'm not sure about the site is on but they go out and kill women and children and they become a huge rallying cry. the women and children and these guys are savages so no one's thinking about the way that slaveholders treat women and children and slavery, it's not there but we leave that to the side and it becomes a great rallying cry. after the revolts, people who are pushing against slavery, this is another thing i don't talk about nearly enough in the book, but other scholars have, the genius seriously talked
about ending slavery, there are proposals at the virginia legislature that get serious consideration that they should adopt gradual emancipation. remember the wave of emancipation that stopped around 1804 new jersey? there is a movement to get that wave of emancipation going again. so, there's a debate and during the debate that there are petitions from women and children saying we don't want to come through politics but it's a political question that connects to our safety. we want slavery to and and there's a series of three petitions that a been written by women and one was written by a man who signed it as a woman and then had the women sign it. but it didn't ultimately succeed the people who were moving from emancipation, they lost but it's a powerful moment in the
supporters of gradual emancipation thought they could use it to support their argument against slavery . >> the two less questions. thank you . >> good morning i'm from cape cod massachusetts and my question is, during the civil rights movement. because the south harden down on slavery and implemented harsher laws in response to aggressive slavery, how do you think america would have responded to malcolm x had he been more successful in leading more aggressive revolts and perhaps even killing more white people in the name of civil rights instead of mlk's peaceful approach to change? >> malcolm maddox is an endearing figure and one of the things we have to be careful of is saying we have to
historicized these things in malcolm maddox's many different people and if you look at the relatively new biography, eventually reinventing a life. you see these guys change over time and you want to be careful not to say that there is one solid thing. i want to contextualize. so, malcolm x, there's points at which is really looking and trying to scare people he's talking big gaming terms of violence in such. there's also times when he's gonna be moving in different directions. so you don't want to go malcolm x had many different positions on race and you don't want to assume that there's one position and one thing, you want to historicized it . >> thank you >> i'm pat aiken from seattle washington area. my question is about the book, so way back in 1960 in the
middle of the high school and my mother was having a discussion about whether or not the book should be assigned in high school or of high school kids should read it or if it's too controversial. so i've always been curious, what was so controversial about the book . >> it's pretty easy to answer the controversy about it initially it went out and won a pulitzer prize and got great initial notices but there's a couple problems with it. these were brought up in 1967 when the book was written and one is it's a white southerner writing the story of america's most famous black slaves in the first person and he speaking for them and making them a little crazy and making them flawed and he thinks that he's humanizing him but a lot of black power activists not malcolm x's dead by this point
but guys are saying you can do that. the other thing is that the center of the story becomes the story of the killing of markham whitehead. he and william styron sees that is really psychologically important. he doesn't think that he killed margaret whitehead perchance, he thinks it's really meaningful that this is the only person that he killed. so he ends up telling the story and nat turner loved and hated margaret whitehead which is invoking 100 years of his dog murph he were we have black rapists. those are two big issues that set off the debate in the 60s . >> thank you so much for your attention.
>> thank you . >> american history tv products are now available at the new c- span online store. go to c-span store.org to see what's new for american history tv. check out all of the c-span product >> this is a special edition of american history tv, a sample of the compelling history that every week and on american history tv like lectures and history, american artifacts, real america, the civil war, oral histories, the presidency and special event coverage about the nation's history. enjoy american history tv now and every weekend on cspan-3 . >> coming up in american history tv, look at reconstruction after the civil war. first, the discussion of the impact of jim crow laws. then i look at the u.s. supreme
court and then after that the politics of positive were trailing the impeachment of andrew johnson. after the, activity at the canadian border and later slavery and reconstruction in the west . >> historian henry louis gates talks about reconstruction which lasted from the end of the civil war until 1877. the amendments passed during this time to promote equality for african-americans and the subsequent jim crow laws and other measures used in southern states to reestablish white supremacy. the national constitution center hosted this event . >> ladies and gentlemen, welcome upstairs to the national competition center. >> we heard the professor downstairs
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