I like that everyone has strong reactions to today’s readings. Everyone has something to say about them, which should lead to some good discussion.
Something to think about though, is why were they trying to get a strong reaction? Franklin was openly trying to provoke outrage. Thomas Gray, who published Turner’s Confessions, was more subtle, but we have to keep in mind that whatever was “taken from the mouth” or hand of Turner was filtered by Gray. Both Franklin and Gray had purposes and motivations for putting these stories out there, and for trying to get a strong reaction.
So how can we find out more? The Franklin reading is in Schecter’s book, which gives a brief intro. That’s one possibility. If we Google murder of a daughter, or Benjamin Franklin, we’ll find all kinds of unrelated info, but if we try:
Similarly, if we Google:
“confessions of nat turner” thomas gray
we’ll find more on the controversies surrounding that narrative. It seems so much like a just-the-facts, first-person confession. Should we accept it without question? Do we need to know something about Gray to evaluate it?
This is just a quick and painless technique to find out a little more about the documents we’re reading. But having a little background makes the reading a richer experience.