Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

What role did Nat Turner’s rebellion and the Fugitive Slave Law play in Jacobs’ account of her life? Why did they especially disturb her?

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Harriet details how Nat Turner's rebellion filled the white population in the south with fear and paranoia. One day the whites called together a muster (an official search), which the slaves thought would be another holiday. Everyone gathered out of doors and soldiers marched about while martial music played. Suddenly, orders were given and the soldiers and "low whites", who relished their slim allowance of power, rushed about. Slaves were beaten and robbed, houses were searched and possessions were stolen. Harriet felt that her grandmother's house would be safe since they were in the high esteem of many white families. The house was searched by insolent soldiers who rifled through their belongings, but they finally left. The captain cursed the house as they departed. That evening greater cruelties raged in the town. Harriet marveled at this "spectacle for a civilized country! A rabble, staggering under intoxication, assuming to be the administrators of justice!" Patrols continued for weeks. Slaves were beaten and jailed to try and get information from them. Finally the slaveholders were appeased by the capture of Nat Turner. Following this, the slaves' church was demolished and they were forced to attend with the whites. Analysis