August 21, 1831– Nat Turner, a slave preacher and self-styled prophet, leads the only successful slave revolt in Virginia’s history, which in just twelve hours leaves fifty-five white people dead in Southampton County.

Later developments:

  • November 1, 1831 – The lawyer Thomas R. Gray meets with his new client, Nat Turner, in the Southampton County jail. Turner is accused of leading a slave uprising that led to the deaths of fifty-five white people.
  • November 5, 1831 – Thomas R. Gray, a lawyer defending Nat Turner, a slave accused of leading an uprising, introduces Turner’s “Confessions” as evidence during Turner’s trial.
  • November 10, 1831 – Thomas R. Gray secures a copyright for his pamphlet “The Confessions of Nat Turner, as fully and voluntarily made to Thomas R. Gray.” Gray’s account purports to tell the story of Nat Turner’s slave uprising in the words of Turner himself.
  • November 11, 1831 – Nat Turner is hanged.

– from Encyclopedia Virginia, entry on The Confessions of Nat Turner