Religion and American Slavery

Lesson IV. Black Abolitionists Motivated by Their Religion: Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Harriet Tubman, and Sojourner Truth


Primary Sources

Horrid massacre in Virginia. 1831. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

Lindsley, Harvey B. Portrait of Harriet Tubman. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

Sojourner Truth. I sell the shadow to support the substance. 1864. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

Truth, Sojourner. “Sojourner Truth’s And Ain’t I a Woman Speech.” American Journey Online: Women in America, Jan. 1999.

Vesey, Denmark, Approximately, Lionel Henry Kennedy, and Thomas Parker. An official report of the trials of sundry Negroes, charged with an attempt to raise an insurrection in the state of South-Carolina: preceded by an introduction and narrative: and, in an appendix, a report of the trials of four white persons on indictments for attempting to excite the slaves to insurrection. Charleston: James R. Schenck, 1822. Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

Secondary Sources

Bradford, Sarah Hopkins. Harriet, the Moses of Her People. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library, 2012.

Butorac, Sean Kim. States of Insurrection: Race, Resistance, and the Laws of Slavery. 2020.

Greenberg, Kenneth S. Nat Turner: A Slave Rebellion in History and Memory. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Larson, Kate Clifford. Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero. Ballantine, 2004.

Mon Ges, Miriam Ma’at-Ka-Re. “Sojourner Truth: Bringing Order out of Chaos.” Western Journal of Black Studies, vol. 29, no. 4, 2005, pp. 682–86.

Rucker, Walter C. “‘I Will Gather All Nations’: Resistance, Culture, and Pan-African Collaboration in Denmark Vesey’s South Carolina.” The Journal of Negro History, vol. 86, no. 2, Apr. 2001, pp. 132–47.

Schipper, Jeremy. “‘On Such Texts Comment Is Unnecessary’: Biblical Interpretation in the Trial of Denmark Vesey.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, vol. 85, no. 4, Dec. 2017, pp. 1032–49.

Thomas Gray. “The Confessions of Nat Turner.” American Journey Online: The African American Experience, Jan. 1999.

Washington, Margaret. “Going ‘Where They Dare Not Follow’: Race, Religion, and Sojourner Truth’s Early Interracial Reform.” Journal of African American History, vol. 98, no. 1, Winter 2013, pp. 48–71.

Williams, Jakobi. “Nat Turner: The Complexity and Dynamic of His Religious Background.” Journal of Pan African Studies, vol. 4, no. 9, Jan. 2012, p. 113.

Young, Jason R. “African Religions in the Early South.” The Journal of Southern Religion, vol. 14, 2012.



Learn more about how to promote the 3Rs — rights, responsibility, respect — in your school and community.