Fighting for Change: 7 Fascinating Facts About Nat Turner’s Historical Slave Revolt

4. The Eruption of Mount St. Helens Gave Turner Another “Sign” to Start the Revolt


On February 12, 1831, a solar eclipse shrouded the sky, blocking daylight and fascinating people the world over. Turner, taking many natural phenomena as “signs from God” at this point, took this eclipse as yet another message – this time seeing it as a call for his rebellion.

After secretly meeting with fellow slaves for months, Turner was waiting for his cue to begin the siege. And he was sure he received it when, during another ‘symbolic’ event in August 1831, the night sky took on an unnatural sheen. States from Georgia to New York started describing the scene as a beamless sun, indicating there was a grayish-blue tint to the light hitting the Earth. Turner easily accepted that the sun’s strange appearance was the message he was waiting for, and he decided to proceed with the rebellion.

However, historians now understand the true cause of the atmospheric disturbance; it was the result of the Mount St. Helens’ eruption in Washington.

3. The Tragic Loss of Life Inevitably Occurred on Both Sides, Including Women and Children


The revolt was underway, and it began at the home of Turner’s plantation. With his small band of followers behind him, Turner brought about the death of his master, Joseph Travis, and his wife and nine-year-old son while they were sleeping. However, the slaves learned there was still one family member to take care of – an infant. Accepting the cruel task, two slaves returned and murdered the baby in its crib, later dumping its body in the fireplace.

Once they advanced through the countryside, Turner and his crew freed slaves just as quickly as they amassed bodies of slave owners and their families. Over 75 slaves joined the uprising during the chaotic 48 hour blitz, and they killed an estimated 60 men, women and children who fell to their blades.