Skip to main content

Thomas Ruffin Gray

Image result for nat turner images

Much of what we know or think we know about Nat Turner, and the slave rebellion to which he gave his name, derives from a single written source, a pamphlet by Thomas Ruffin Gray.

 In a recent research paper for UC Berkeley, Christopher Tomlins has discussed "whether a hastily-written twenty page pamphlet rushed into print by an opportunistic white lawyer, down on his luck and hoping to cash in on Turner's notoriety, actually deserves to be treated as empirically reliable...."

 Tomlins starts with the basics: beginning very early in the morning on August 22, 1831. Turner led a group of blacks, most of them slaves (Billy Artis was the free man in the group) in massacring the whites in slave holding families that morning. The massacre occupied them for 12 hours, the rebellion after that consisted of repeated confrontations with militia.

By the afternoon of August 23, Turner was the only member of the group who had neither been killed nor captured. He eluded authorities until Sunday, October 30. He was executed (hanged) on November 11.

Gray was a local attorney, but he doesn't seem ever to have acted as Turner's attorney. the only role his membership in the bar really plays in this story is: it allowed him to move easily into and out of the jail where Turner was held around Nov. 1, talk to him, and take the notes that, he hoped, would reverse his own fortunes.

I will say no more  and simply recommend the article. Here is a link.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Cancer Breakthrough

Hopeful news in recent days about an old and dear desideratum: a cure for cancer. Or at least for a cancer, and a nasty one at that.

The news comes about because investors in GlaxoSmithKline are greedy for profits, and has already inspired a bit of deregulation to boot. 

The FDA has paved the road for a speedy review of a new BCMA drug for multiple myeloma, essentially cancer of the bone marrow. This means that the US govt has removed some of the hurdles that would otherwise (by decision of the same govt) face a company trying to proceed with these trials expeditiously. 

This has been done because the Phase I clinical trial results have been very promising. The report I've seen indicates that details of these results will be shared with the world on Dec. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. 

The European Medicines Agency has also given priority treatment to the drug in question. 

GSK's website identifies the drug at issue as "GSK2857916," althou…

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.



We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…