Nat Turner’s Revolt and Its Effects

Lesson 3: Effects of the Rebellion

Time Estimated: 1 days



Students will:

  1. Use a primary source quote to play a role in the Virginia legislature as they decide what action to take concerning Turner’s rebellion.
  2. Compare and contrast the class’ decision to the Virginia legislature’s actual outcome.




  • Primary source quotes from people of the time on slips of paper
  • Governor Floyd’s message to the Virginia legislature December 6, 1831 from The Southhampton Slave Revolt of 1831 (for teacher background knowledge)
  • Draft of a bill concerning “Slaves, Free Negroes, and Mullatoes” December 1831 from The Southhampton Slave Revolt of 1831 (for teacher background knowledge)
  • Created talking points on the decision of the Virginia legislature (see historical background)
  • Rubric for role play




  1. Tell students that today they will be a member of the Virginia legislature as they discuss what to do about Turner’s rebellion.
  2. Discuss options that the legislature has.
  3. Pass out pieces of paper with quotes from people of the time. Every two students gets a piece of paper.
  4. Explain to students that their paper is a quote from the person they are supposed to be.
  5. The students are to work with their partner to re-word the quote so that it is in their own words.
  6. Based on their re-worded quote, the partners need to decide together what they would say and how they would vote during the meeting. What option concerning the revolt would their person be most in favor of?
  7. Working with their partner, the students come up with what they want to say during the meeting and how they will vote at the end of the meeting—using the re-wording of their primary source quote.
  8. Students re-enact a role play of the Virginia legislature’s meeting. Pairs of students take turns standing up and having their say. At the end, once everyone has spoken, the class will take a vote on what option should be chosen.
  9. Discuss with the students what really happened. Share with them the legislature’s decision and have the students compare and contrast their vote with the actual vote.




The more advanced students will be given harder roles to play in the re-enactment. The students of lower ability will be given the primary source quote along with additional information on the person that will help them to more clearly identify what that person’s perspective would be. I will also be using heterogeneous groups so that partners can also help each other.