On the evening of Sunday, 21 August 1831, Nat Turner and six men launched the most famous slave revolt in American history. The rebels caught Southampton whites flatfooted and killed nearly five dozen whites, more than had been killed by any slave revolt in American history. By the afternoon of the first day, however, the small rebel army encountered hastily assembled white forces, which dispersed the rebels. Efforts to restart the revolt met with little success.
By Tuesday, 23 August, the threat that the rebels had posed had dissipated. As whites gained regained control, some advocated for a brutal response, but the slaveholders ultimately were able to check the threat to slave property posed by enraged whites. As a result, far fewer slaves and free blacks
in Southampton were killed as whites suppressed the revolt.
An original interpretation of the revolt, This Land Shall Be Deluged uses the dramatic events in Southampton to explore both the relationship of the black community to the rebels and whites. Unlike earlier works, which have emphasized the importance of resistance or negotiating to slaves, this work explores the ambiguities faced by members of the black community as they tried to decide if they would join the rebels, support their masters, or try to avoid taking sides. This book also shows how
the slaveholders were able to create a hegemonic account of the revolt that saved their slaves from white retribution, which was the most dangerous threat facing the slaveholders' human property. The majority of the book is a close narrative of the events, stressing the characters and motivations of
the rebelling slaves and the dynamics of power within and between the white and black communities.
Patrick Breen is an assistant professor of history at Providence College.
Acknowledgments ; Introduction ; Ch 1 Signs ; Ch 2 The First Blood ; Ch 3 To Jerusalem ; Ch 4 Where Are the Facts? ; Ch 5 The Coolest and Most Judicious Among Us ; Ch 6 Long and Elaborate Arguments ; Ch 7 Communion ; Conclusion ; Afterword: Thomas R. Gray, Nat Turner, and the Authorial Voice of The Confessions of Nat Turner ; Notes ; Bibliography ; Index