Talk:Nat Turner

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WikiProject African diaspora[edit]

Whose bright idea was this? These articles are literally the worst, most editorialized on this website.

"The massacre of blacks after the rebellion was typical of white fears and overreaction to black violence"

Citation needed. Also, I'd like an explanation of what "white fears" are. Akin to saying "black criminality". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:14, 28 October 2016 (UTC)

The citation is in the article — the section is cited to this American Heritage article, and is a fair reading of that article. I'm sure plenty more sources could be found for it. NorthBySouthBaranof (talk) 16:07, 28 October 2016 (UTC)
Ta-Nehisi Coates defines "black criminality" as "The enduring view of African Americans in this country is as a race of people who are prone to criminality."[1] And "white fears" is just referring to the fact that white people were afraid of black people taking the rights they were entitled to. Obviously they're related in that they're both, ultimately, products of white supremacy, but I'm unsure what kind of connection you're trying to make here?
And I agree with User:NorthBySouthBaranof - that sentence does indeed appear to be supported by the citation. --ChiveFungi (talk) 16:28, 28 October 2016 (UTC)

African American?[edit]

Though African-American has become synonymous with black in modern parlance, it is inaccurate to apply the term to Nat Turner. He was not an American at any time in his life. Considering the article already uses the term "free blacks" in close proximity to where someone added African-American (for whatever reason), it is congruent. Eodcarl (talk) 20:26, 29 October 2016 (UTC)

I'm not sure what you mean or what is the point of your comment. My reversion (which was the second time you were reverted, if my count is correct) is based on the idea that Turner is called an African American in the sources and my judgement of the sources is that his identity as such is notable enough to belong in the article in the lede and where it is discussed who he was. He is described as African American in most sources, for example Turner and other slaves in Virginia are described as African Americans in:
Breen, Patrick H. The Land Shall be Deluged in Blood: A New History of the Nat Turner Revolt. Oxford University Press, 2015.
French, Scot. The Rebellious Slave: Nat Turner in American Memory. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004.
Greenberg, Kenneth S., ed. Nat Turner: A Slave Rebellion in History and Memory. Oxford University Press, 2003.
and even in the very first source in the article:
Gray White, Deborah. Freedom on my mind: A history of African Americans. New York Bedford/St. Martin's, 2013.
I am not an expert on citizenship or identity or whatever it is that affiliates a person with one descriptor and not another. I suppose you could be right on the philosophical point, but this article is about Nat Turner and should probably be based on sources related to him. Smmurphy(Talk) 21:34, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
They might use the term to be politically correct, but just because a source uses the term incorrectly doesn't mean it should be in the article. The article uses the term black in several places; I didn't use that term, I simply changed the language to exclude African-American, which cannot apply to an antebellum slave. Eodcarl (talk) 21:37, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
I'm sympathetic to the argument that black people were not Americans before the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, but I cannot support Eodcarl's edit-warring in favor of her/his favored version of the article. I also find curious her/his argument that we should ignore the sources. — Malik Shabazz Talk/Stalk 21:44, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
If you have any interest in being civil, then I suggest you desist with the allegation I was edit warring. There is one of me, and several of you have ganged up on me. I don't suggest ignoring a source, and what is valuable from the source should be seriously considered. However, it is common today to use the term African-American for ANY black person at any time for no other purpose than fear of angering people. Black is still a common term (and used in the article). I avoided the used of a 20th century term to describe an early 19th century figure without using contextually unnecessary racial labels in the two places the term was used. Are you that attached to it that we must apply it to a person who was not an American? Eodcarl (talk) 21:50, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you feel that I was piling on you or ganging up on you. I just noticed that there is a broader discussion of the issue at Talk:African Americans. I think that there may be an interesting MOS consensus of the usage that could override the sources, but that one does not yet exist. So, for now I think that the sources support using African-American to describe Turner. Smmurphy(Talk) 22:03, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
I disagree with the contention that because a term is used in a source that it must be used in the article. It is an anachronism that does not apply. Nothing in WP practice suggests it should be used. Sources can have mistakes (or I believe in this case, a knee-jerk result of political correctness). The dictionary definition of African-American and the new African-American WP article (edited by Talk) does not support using the term for Nat Turner. Also, the source does not refer to Nat Turner as an African-American. African-American in the the title of the book, a complete history of African-Americans, of which Nat Turner is relevant. That does not make him an African-American. Eodcarl (talk) 22:10, 29 October 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Google books doesn't have a preview of the Deborah Gray White source, so I can't show that example, but she refers to Turner as African-American in other sources, see: White, Deborah Gray. Let My People Go: African Americans 1804-1860. Oxford University Press, 1996. p8. While I'm not a part of the discussion at the page, African American, I want to point out that referring to slaves as "African Americans" is extremely common, for instance examples can be found at this google books search and this google scholar search. Smmurphy(Talk) 22:32, 29 October 2016 (UTC)

That terms are commonly misused does not suggest we should use it, since you and I are interested in precision. We agree the sourced article does not necessarily refer to Nat Turner as an African American, so there are no longer an procedural reasons to continue to do so in the article. Do you have other reasons to object to omitting the term African American from the article? As I said, the dictionary definition of African American only includes Americans, so even if commonly misapplied (so you've said), it cannot properly apply to Nat Turner. Eodcarl (talk) 22:38, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
I do not think the point of this discussion is purely procedural. Sources call Turner African American, and the page currently reflects that (although in two places fewer than before your edits). I think the page should continue to do so, and am supported by many of the sources currently used inline. The French, Breen, and Greenburg sources which are included as "Further reading" are not currently cited inline, but also refer to Turner as African American. I'd be happy to cite French, Breen, Greenberg and White's usage of African American to describe Turner in line to describe Nat Turner if that would make you more comfortable. Smmurphy(Talk) 22:52, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
So, knowing they are incorrect, you're happy to use terminology incorrectly because sources do so (albeit not the cited source)? Thank you for pointing out the other errors Eodcarl (talk) 23:06, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean by "cited source". Which source do you mean? Smmurphy(Talk) 23:56, 29 October 2016 (UTC)
Footnote #1. You originally stated it calls Nat Turner an African American. As you admitted, that is unclear. Then you said other sources do, though not the one cited. I still maintain any source that calls Nat Turner an African American does so erroneously, since the definition requires the person actually be an American citizen, which is pretty obvious by the inclusion of "American." Eodcarl (talk) 00:10, 30 October 2016 (UTC)
You say that the term "African American" is an anachronism, but why is that a problem? The Wikipedia article on Ancient Roman pottery uses the term "pottery" instead of whatever the ancient Romans would have called it. So why should we be concerned with what contemporary people would have called Nat Turner? --ChiveFungi (talk) 00:17, 30 October 2016 (UTC)
As I said, I'm pretty sure the Deborah Gray White source does, she and the other authors refer to him as an African-American in other works. To your second point, I do not agree that slaves of a country cannot have that country's adjective in their identity in general and I do not agree that slaves in American cannot be described as American. I do not think American must always refer to a citizenship status, and I do not know exactly what the citizenship status of a slave was. Smmurphy(Talk) 01:02, 30 October 2016 (UTC)
Slaves in America had no citizenship status or nationality. I understand you personally disagree, but the dictionary definition requires nationality. Eodcarl (talk) 01:12, 30 October 2016 (UTC)
"American" also refers to nativity and not just citizenship status. Also, slaves are mentioned in the U. S. Constitution. BorderRuffian (talk) 31 October 2016 (UTC)BorderRuffian

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I think Turner was a national of the United States in that the United States had some legal jurisdiction over him, but he did not have very many rights. I don't think it was the case that he did not have any rights. I'm not sure to what degree his rights were derived from federal or from state law. I know that Taney thought Dred Scott wasn't eligible to be a plaintiff in a federal suit, but I'm not sure if that applies to Turner, 16 years before Scott. I know there were cases where slaves were plaintiffs in other states, but I'm not sure if there were any in Virginia. I don't know if being a plaintiff in a state court implies the state court believes you are a citizen, or if that is just Taney's idea about federal courts in 1857. I don't know how overturning the Dred Scott case might affect all of this. So, yeah, I am not sure if he was a citizen, what that meant then, and what that might mean today, and I don't think it is clear cut. Beyond all of this, I do not think it is always clear if sources using the term "African American" are talking about an identity, an ethnicity, a race, a type of citizenship, a nationality, a combination of these, or what. In any case, is there a dictionary that expresses whether or not Turner was an African American, we are still looking for sources supporting your interpretation. Smmurphy(Talk) 02:41, 30 October 2016 (UTC)

I don't see how any of that is relevant. Non citizens can sue in American courts. That has nothing to do with identity. To be an American one must have the nationality; citizenship. If a slave was freed and moved to Canada, he would not be an African American. The term was invented to avoid saying "black" even though it is not derogatory, and white is still acceptable. It was invented to refer to Americans of African ancestry. That does not include slaves who were no Americans. The law did not afford them personhood, much less nationality. Stop following me to other pages. Eodcarl (talk) 02:48, 30 October 2016 (UTC)
Sorry I wasn't clear. I'm not sure the question of slave citizenship is well defined except via the Dred Scott case. In Taney's decision, he says he finds against Scott because his reading of the Declaration of Independence is that blacks (all blacks) were inferior and could not be citizens and thus could not sue in a federal court. I don't fully understand this, I do not understand arguments about state vs federal citizenship, and basically, think the whole thing was a mess. Certainly the law gave slaves personhood. It was, for instance, against the law to murder a slave in some circumstances.
I don't think I am following you, I am sorry you feel that way. Smmurphy(Talk) 02:54, 30 October 2016 (UTC)
Yes, illegal to kill a slave, similar to being illegal to kill or steal a horse. It is not in dispute a slave had no citizenship or nationality, state or federal. That is historical fact. The only thing that remain is if it is reasonable to apply "Americanism" after the fact. The answer is no. It is the collision of political correctness and precision. African American is a ridiculous term in all cases, but at least we can enforce not applying it to people who were never Americans. Side note: I do appreciate your recent compromises on recent edits. They work well, IMO. Eodcarl (talk) 03:02, 30 October 2016 (UTC)
Turner had some rights (it was even illegal for his own master to murder him, as I meant to say before). Beyond that, I'm sorry if I've pushed this discussion into the esoteric. The point is still that sources call him an African American and that in my reading of the sources, this identity is a notable part of who he is. The change you are proposing should probably be based on a real dispute about sources. Do you have any sources that make it clear Nat Turner, in particular, should not be considered an African American.
Your argument seems to be based on the dictionary or something along those lines.If you don't have Turner specific citations, I think that your argument might make more sense in a more general article. You might also consider proposing something along the lines you are saying at MOS:IDENTITY.Smmurphy(Talk) 03:26, 30 October 2016 (UTC)
Your political correctness has entered the surreal. It is this simple. He was NOT an American. Therefore he could not be an African American, even though the term is absurd. I have not, and will not edit pages of slaves who gained their freedom, or lived beyond 1865 in the US. Eodcarl (talk) 03:38, 30 October 2016 (UTC)
The hell? He was born in the U.S. and died in the U.S. No matter his status, he was an American, period. WP:DROPTHESTICK, now. Nate (chatter) 04:18, 30 October 2016 (UTC)
Slaves were not Americans until the 14th Amendment. He died long before that. Stop stalking me. Eodcarl (talk) 04:21, 30 October 2016 (UTC)
You keep asserting that it's inappropriate to call enslaved people in the US "African Americans". But looking through this thread, I don't see you linking to any sources for this claim. So could you provide a citation? Thanks! --ChiveFungi (talk) 12:01, 30 October 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @ChiveFungi: Eodcarl is now community banned from Wikipedia. Doug Weller talk 17:30, 31 October 2016 (UTC)


My understanding is that the best sources for Turner's life right now are:

Breen, Patrick H. The Land Shall be Deluged in Blood: A New History of the Nat Turner Revolt. Oxford University Press, 2015.
French, Scot. The Rebellious Slave: Nat Turner in American Memory. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004.
Greenberg, Kenneth S., ed. Nat Turner: A Slave Rebellion in History and Memory. Oxford University Press, 2003.

In no particular order. I'd like to update the sources in this article, removing non-peer reviewed sources where necessary/possible. Does anyone mind? In the process, I may update/expand the article, does anyone mind this, too? I'll be using google books and, I hope, a local copy. Should I rely heavilly on any other sources? Should I avoid one of these sources? Thanks, Smmurphy(Talk) 12:29, 31 October 2016 (UTC)

Falsely attributed description of Turner[edit]

An IP editor changed this sentence, and her/his edit was undone:

Joseph Drexler-Dreis writes that Turner "was stimulated exclusively by fanatical revenge, and perhaps misled by some hallucination of his imagined spirit of prophecy".[1][2]


  1. ^ Dreis, Joseph (November 2014). "Nat Turner's Rebellion as a Process of Conversion: Towards a Deeper Understanding of the Christian Conversion Process". 12 (3): 232. Retrieved 10 December 2014.  [dead link]
  2. ^ Drexler-Dreis, Joseph (November 2014). "Nat Turner’s Rebellion as a Process of Conversion: Towards a Deeper Understanding of the Christian Conversion Process". Black Theology: An International Journal (published 2015-04-21). 12 (3): 230–50. doi:10.1179/1476994814Z.00000000037. Retrieved 2016-07-17. 

The problem is that Drexler-Dreis didn't write that about Turner; an 1831 letter-writer to the New York Evening Post did. I don't have access to Drexler-Dreis's paper, but I did a Google search for the sentence in quotes. Here is one source:

A Jerusalem writer, whose letter appeared in the New York Evening Post, called him "a preacher and prophet" among the slaves, adding that Turner was "stimulated exclusively by fanatical revenge, and perhaps misled by some hallucination of his imagined spirit of prophecy."

This was a contemporary opinion of Turner, almost certainly by a white Virginian, not a modern interpretation. — Malik Shabazz Talk/Stalk 01:56, 18 December 2016 (UTC)

Criticism of the estimate of the number of slave and free black casualties[edit]

I have opened a discussion at Talk:Nat Turner's slave rebellion#Criticism of the estimate of the number of slave and free black casualties and proposed that the reported estimate of slave and free blacks killed by militias and mobs after the rebellion should be set at 120, citing "Breen 2015, p98, 231". Then say in a footnote, "Breen 2015, Chapter 9 and Allmendinger 2014, Appendix F are recent studies which review various estimates for the number of slaves and free blacks killed without trial, giving a range of from 23 killed to over 200 killed." The number, 120, is based on Breen's giving that number as the most common estimate and stating that such high estimates are widely accepted. Breen and Allmendinger review a number of estimates and themselves propose much lower estimates, but it is not clear those lower estimates have been accepted as widely as the higher ones. To keep the discussion centralized, please let me know if you disagree with the change at the other talk page. Thanks! Smmurphy(Talk) 01:19, 18 March 2017 (UTC)