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Benjamin Franklin's "The Murder of a Daughter"



  • Author: Benjamin Franklin
  • Written in 1734
  • Not a lot of detail to this story.
    • No background on the characters, and no name is provided for any of the characters Can you find any of this background? Did you do any research?
    • The text says that there were numerous amounts of evidence against the couple, but none was listed. How do we know there was enough evidence?


  • Parents threw their daughter out of the house
  • Daughter had no resources, and eventually died
  • The parents were caught and convicted of murder
  • Their punishment was a burn on the hand

Discussion Topics

  • Was this murder or abandonment?
    • Murder: the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought
    • Abandonment: to give up with the intent of never again claiming a right or interest in
  • The husband's sacrifice at the end of the case: significance?
  • The Judge said that they broke the "Universal Law of Nature"..what is that referring to?

The Confessions of Nat Turner

Background information on Nat Turner


  • Born: October 2nd, 1800 in Southampton County, Va (only 2.5 hours from where UMW)
  • He didn't know much about his father. Its been said that Nat's father escaped from slavery
  • His grandmother, old Bridget, had a hand in raising him. She was from Ghana (a group known for its slave revolts)
  • He learned to read and write at a young age
  • Very Intelligent as a slave
  • He also learned about his religion and became deeply immersed in it, often saying he would receive visions and he interpreted them as messages from God.
  • At the age of 22 he ran away from his master but, returned a month later because of one of these visions.
  • On August 21st 1831, after receiving what he believed was his final sign from God, he commenced a rebellion.
  • He eluded capture until October 30th 1831
  • November 5th 1831 he was tried and convicted of conspiring to rebel and making insurrection
    • insurrection is defined as a violent uprising against an authority or government.
  • While in jail awaiting his death Thomas Ruffin Gray took it upon himself to write Turner's story.
  • Turner was hanged November 11th 1831 in Jerusalem, Va

Cultural Context: What was happening in 1831?

  • January 1st: William Garrison published the first abolitionist journal.
  • March 9th: 1st US bank robbery. (city bank, Ny $245,000)
  • June 6th: 2nd national black convention

- these are all leading up to Nat's rebellion.


  • "Turner had many motives for his revolt his most important motive was hatred of slavery and suffering his people has to endure"


  • Feb. 1831 was when he started preparing for the rebellion


  • July 4th 1831 When Nat Turner decided he wanted the Revolt this date (Later changed because of Turner illness
  • Aug. 22-23 1831 NAT TURNER REVOLT
  • 55 Whites (including women, men and children)

Capture & Execution

  • Oct. 30 Two slaves found Nat Turner and reported it to there slave owner Benjamin Phipps
  • Nov. 5 Turner is tried for "Conspiring to rebel and making insurrection" he was found guilty
  • Nov. 11 Turner was hanged in Jerusalem, Virginia


Fun Facts

  • In 2009 the largest city own park in Newark, New Jersey was named after Nat Turner in honor of his struggle for freedom