The 46 Petitioners: Social Justice in the Age of Nat Turner in the City of Alexandria, Virginia
Author(s): Garrett R Fesler
This is an abstract from the session entitled "Archaeology of Urban Dissonance: Violence, Friction, and Change" , at the 2021 annual meeting of the Society for Historical Archaeology.
For two days in August 1831, Nat Turner, an enslaved preacher, and a core group of followers rampaged across rural Southampton County, Virginia, killing some 55 white people. Broadly speaking, Turner had initiated a social justice movement, albeit a violent one. One month later, 46 free Black residents of Alexandria published a petition in the local newspaper asserting their loyalty to the “authorities of the town.” To the petitioners, Turner’s movement potentially imperiled their own precarious sovereignty. Their petition reminds us that the frisson of uprisings then, like social justice movements now, unfolds in ways that are unpredictable and often uniquely personal. Could urban Alexandria have produced a Nat Turner? Conversely, could the social justice movements of 2020 have occurred if George Floyd lived in Southampton, Virginia? I will explore the metaphorical distance between Nat Turner in 1831 and Black Lives Matter in 2020 as reflected in Alexandria, Virginia.
Cite this Record
The 46 Petitioners: Social Justice in the Age of Nat Turner in the City of Alexandria, Virginia. Garrett R Fesler. 2021 ( tDAR id: 459226)
This Resource is Part of the Following Collections
Individual & Institutional Roles
Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology