Episode 336: Vanessa Holden, Surviving the Southampton Rebellion

What did it take to stage a successful slave uprising? Over the course of the early republic, we see a few violent slave uprisings in the United States. A particularly brutal rebellion took place in Louisiana in January 1811. Another violent rebellion took place in Southampton County, Virginia in August 1831. Neither of these rebellions led to the abolishment of slavery, but they did lead to the death of many enslaved people and their enslavers.

Vanessa Holden, an Associate Professor of History at the University of Kentucky and the author of the award-winning book Surviving Southampton, leads us through the events and circumstances of the 1831-Southampton Rebellion, a rebellion we tend to know today as Nat Turner’s Rebellion.

This episode is supported by an American Rescue Plan grant to the Omohundro Institute from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.

Episode Summary

Vanessa Holden, an Associate Professor of History and African and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky and the author of the award-winning book Surviving Southampton, joins us to investigate the events and circumstances of the Southampton, Virginia slave rebellion in 1831.

During our investigation, Vanessa reveals when and why the Southampton Rebellion took place; The early history of Southampton, Virginia and why it experienced a slave rebellion; And, why we should look at the Southampton Rebellion as a community-wide event.

What You’ll Discover

  • The Southampton Rebellion
  • Placing the Southampton Rebellion in the context of other slave revolts
  • Why we should think of Nat Turner’s Rebellion as the Southampton Rebellion
  • The many participants of the Southampton Rebellion
  • Justice and the function of the law in early republic America
  • Nat Turner’s trial
  • Southampton, Virginia’s early American past
  • The community of Southampton
  • Black life and experiences in Southampton
  • Slave patrols and surveillance
  • Southampton Rebellion as a community event
  • Why the Southampton Rebellion happened
  • Repercussions of the Southampton Rebellion
  • Historical sources used to uncover & recover the lives of participants
  • The role women and descendants play in our memory

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Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion, what might have happened if women had not participated in the Southampton Rebellion?

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