The Religious Roots of the American Abolition Movement

The Religious Roots of the American Abolition Movement

The Religious Roots of the American Abolition Movement An Online Professional Development Seminar For North Carolina Teachers Made possible by a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation WELCOME We will begin promptly at 10 a.m. GOALS To better understand the role of religious beliefs and institutions in the battle to end slavery

To understand the different audiences for abolitionist arguments To offer primary documents from a variety of participants To better understand how to use documents with students in class FROM THE FORUM CHALLENGES, ISSUES, QUESTIONS Priscillae Burwell, Granville County The Bible was used by some as a way for keeping slavery; whereas, on the other hand, slaves used it as a way of communicating with God as to why they were being held in bondage.

Mary Jae Peterson, Orange High, Hillsborough Kelly Hansen, Shallotte Middle School, Shallotte Wants to incorporate literature and history Brent Tomberlin, South Caldwell High, Hudson Interested in how 'religious' people felt on both sides of the Civil war, would like to see the discussion evolve into how Lincoln framed emancipation. Amy Cloer, Porter Ridge High, Union County Interested in the impact that religion has on politics and social movements Bridgett Wiley, North Ridge Middle School, Charlotte I hope this seminar will explain how the slave master justified slavery, even though he was a God fearing Christian. I also want to know how despite years of oppression and hardship,

slaves continued to believe in God. Jacob Beach, Rutherford County Get a better idea of how different groups responded to slavery and abolition. FROM THE FORUM CHALLENGES, ISSUES, QUESTIONS William Bivens, Southern Lee High, Sanford To move students back in their thinking and understanding of the era when slavery was accepted by so many as a "necessary evil", and justified, is difficult and yet important. I always have my AP students read and discuss Uncle Tom's Cabin, and other primary

sources. Mrs. Stowe's biblical appeal is constant and effective. FRAMING QUESTIONS Why did Protestant churches come to see slavery as an evil that needed to be eradicated in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries? What religious arguments did abolitionists use to make their case? How did abolitionists use religious strategies and sentiments to appeal to other Christiansblack and white, northern and southern, male and female?

Laurie Maffly-Kipp National Humanities Center Fellow 1993-94 Professor of Religious Studies and American Studies University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2010 1994

Current research and teaching focuses on African-American religions, religion on the Pacific borderlands of the Americas, and issues of intercultural contact. The Big Shift: How do Christians come to see slavery as something that needs to be abolished?

The Bible on Slavery Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.

--Leviticus 25:44-46 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. Ephesians 6:5-6 Let slaves regard their masters as worthy of all honor." --1 Tim. 6:1-2 Reasons had to come from elsewhere: Case I: The Quakers

Who were they and what did they believe? Benjamin Lay 1681-1760 Quaker Benjamin Lay's 1737 address to fellow Quakers. Case II: Independent Black Churches Situation of free blacks in northern states led to religious organizing

Had access to education, print, and had their own biblical interpretations Served as proof to whites that African Americans could become educated, Christianized David Walker (1785-1830) Born free in Wilmington, North Carolina. Settled in Boston where he ran a

clothing store during the 1820s. Agent for Freedoms Journal, a New York-based weekly abolitionist newspaper. His works were banned in several states and were instrumental in initiating slave escapes and insurrections. David Walker, Appeal, Preamble (1830) The fact is, the labour of slaves comes so cheap to the avaricious

usurpers, and is (as they think) of such great utility to the country where it exists, that those who are actuated by sordid avarice only, overlook the evils, which will as sure as the Lord lives, follow after the good. In fact, they are so happy to keep in ignorance and degradation, and to receive the homage and the labour of the slaves, they forget that God rules in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, having his ears continually open to the cries, tears and groans of his oppressed people; and being a just and holy Being will at one day appear fully in behalf of the oppressed, and arrest the progress of the avaricious oppressors; for although the destruction of the oppressors God may not effect by the oppressed, yet the Lord our God will bring

other destructions upon them--for not unfrequently will he cause them to rise up one against another, to be split and divided, and to oppress each other, and sometimes to open hostilities with sword in hand. David Walker, Appeal, Preamble (1830) I will not here speak of the destructions which the Lord brought upon Egypt, in consequence of the oppression and consequent groans of the oppressed--of the hundreds and thousands of Egyptians whom God hurled into the Red Sea for afflicting his people in their land--of the Lord's suffering people in Sparta or Lacedaemon, the land of the truly famous Lycurgus--nor have I time to comment upon the cause which produced the fierceness with which Sylla

usurped the title, and absolutely acted as dictator of the Roman people--the conspiracy of Cataline--the conspiracy against, and murder of Caesar in the Senate house--the spirit with which Marc Antony made himself master of the commonwealth--his associating Octavius and Lipidus with himself in power-their dividing the provinces of Rome among themselves--their attack and defeat, on the plains of Phillipi--of the last defenders of their liberty, (Brutus and Cassius)--the tyranny of Tiberius, and from him to the final overthrow of Constantinople by the Turkish Sultan, Mahomed II. A.D. 1453. I say, I shall not take up time to speak of the causes which produced so much wretchedness and massacre among those heathen nations, for I am aware that you know too well, that God is just, as well as merciful!

David Walker, Appeal, Preamble (1830) How many millions souls of the human family have the blacks beat nearly to death, to keep them from learning to read the Word of God, and from writing. And telling lies about them, by holding them up to the world as a tribe of TALKING APES, void of INTELLECT!!!!! incapable of LEARNING, &c. Yes, I have known small collections of coloured people to have convened together, for no other purpose than to worship God Almighty, in spirit and in truth, to the best of their knowledge; when tyrants, calling themselves patrols, would also convene and wait almost in breathless silence for the poor coloured people to commence singing and praying to the Lord our God, as soon as they had commenced, the wretches would burst in upon them and drag them out and

commence beating them as they would rattle-snakes--many of whom, they would beat so unmercifully, that they would hardly be able to crawl for weeks and sometimes for months. Yet the American minister send out missionaries to convert the heathen, while they keep us and our children sunk at their feet in the most abject ignorance and wretchedness that ever a people was afflicted with since the world began. Case III: Second Great Awakening Revivals among white evangelicals (Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians) beginning in 1800 Moved slavery to a central place in American

Protestant life Revivals and Reforms Shift of consciousness of slavery as a bad system with potentially harmful consequences to something even more corrosive Tied to new series of revivals in 1820s and 1830s that stressed

social reform as a mark of salvation Northern Evangelicals increasingly associate slavery with sinfulness. It is a malum in se. Led by revivalist Charles Finney and William Lloyd Garrison, a wellknown abolitionist, who called for complete and immediate abolition of slavery William Lloyd Garrison Charles Grandison Finney

How to bring the issue of slavery home to Americans? Send out cool looking bad boys with fire in their eyes: a generational shift Theodore Dwight Weld (18031895) Trained as a youth with Charles Finneys holy band of revivalists, preaching salvation and temperance in western states

Helped found the American AntiSlavery Society with William Lloyd Garrison Dismissed from Lane Seminary in 1834 for preaching abolition Married Angelina Grimke in 1838 Later ran interracial, coed schools, championed equal rights Weld wrote The Bible Against Slavery (1837) SLAVERY seeks refuge in the Bible only in its last extremity. It seizes the horns of the altar in

desperation, rushing from the terror of the avenger's arm. Like other unclean spirits, it "hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest its deeds should be reproved." [John 3:20.] Goaded to frenzy in its conflicts with conscience and common sense, denied all quarter, and hunted from every covert, it vaults at last into the sacred inclosure and courses up and down the Bible, "seeking rest, and finding none." [Matthew 12:43]. How to bring the issue of slavery home

to Americans? Saturate the media, reach diverse audiences Importance of the rise of religious publishing as a way to spread the word Different mastheads of The Liberator

Anti-slavery publication for children from the American Anti-slavery society (1836) How to bring the issue of slavery home to Americans? Appeal to southern Christian women Angelina Grimke (1805-1879) Born in Charleston, South Carolina into a prominent family.

Leaves South Carolina in 1829 and moves to Philadelphia, where she becomes a Quaker. Joins Philadelphia Female AntiSlavery Society in 1835. Through association with William Lloyd Garrison becomes major abolitionist speaker. Angelina Grimke, Appeal to the Christian Women of the South But there are other Christian women scattered over the Southern States, a very large

number of whom have never seen me, and never heard my name, and who feel no interest whatever in me. 'But I feel an interest in you, as branches of the same vine from whose root I daily draw the principle of spiritual vitalityYes! Sisters in Christ I feel an interest in you, and often has the secret prayer arisen on your behalf, Lord "open thou their eyes that they may see wondrous things out of thy Law"It is then, because I do feel and do pray for you, that I thus address you upon a subject about which of all others, perhaps you would rather not hear any thing; but, "would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly, and indeed bear with me, for I am jealous over you with godly jealousy." Angelina Grimke, Appeal to the Christian Women of the South

But perhaps you will be ready to query, why appeal to women on this subject ? We do not make the laws which perpetuate slavery. No legislative power is vested in us; we can do nothing to overthrow the system, even if we wished to do so. To this I reply, I know you do not make the laws, but I also know that you are the wives and mothers, the sisters and daughters of those who do; and if you really suppose you can do nothing to overthrow slavery, you are greatly mistaken. You can do much in every way: four things I will name. 1st. You can read on this subject. 2d. You can pray over this subject. 3d. You can speak on this subject. 4th. You can act on this subject. I have not placed reading before praying because I regard it more important, but because, in order to pray aright, we must understand what we are praying for; it is only then we can "pray with the understanding, and the spirit

also." Angelina Grimke, Appeal to the Christian Women of the South I know that this doctrine of obeying God, rather than man, will be considered as dangerous, and heretical by many, but I am not afraid openly to avow it, because it is the doctrine of the Bible; but I would not be understood to advocate resistance to any law however oppressive, if, in obeying it, I was not obliged to commit sin. If for instance, there was a law, which imposed imprisonment or a fine upon me if I manumitted a slave, I would on no account resist that law, I would set the slave free, and then go to prison or pay the fine. If a law commands me to sin I will break it; if it calls me to suffer, I will let it take its course unresistingly. The doctrine

of blind obedience and unqualified submission to any human power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, is the doctrine of despotism, and ought to have no place among Republicans and Christians. Slavery must be attacked with the whole power of truth and the sword of the spirit. You must take it up on Christian ground, and fight against it with Christian weapons, whilst your feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Angelina Grimke, Appeal to the Christian Women of the South And you are now loudly called upon by the cries of the widow and the orphan, to arise and gird yourselves for this great moral conflict, with the whole armour of righteousness upon the right hand and on the left.

How to bring the issue of slavery home to Americans? Bring it into churches, stores, and homes A contribution box, used to gather pennies, other coins, in support of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society

Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him. The Apostle Pauls Charge to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. xvi, 1. How to bring the issue of slavery home to Americans? Employ eloquent ex-slaves to speak of their personal experiences

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) Born into slavery in Maryland Primarily self-taught Escaped to the north in 1838 William Lloyd Garrison, Preface to 1845 edition of Douglass Narrative I shall never forget his first speech at the convention--the extraordinary emotion it excited in my own mind--the powerful impression it created upon a crowded

auditory, completely taken by surprise--the applause which followed from the beginning to the end of his felicitous remarks. I think I never hated slavery so intensely as at that moment; certainly, my perception of the enormous outrage which is inflicted by it, on the godlike nature of its victims, was rendered far more clear than ever. There stood one, in physical proportion and stature commanding and exact--in intellect richly endowed--in natural eloquence a prodigy--in soul manifestly "created but a little lower than the angels"--yet a slave, ay, a fugitive slave,--trembling for his safety, hardly daring to believe that on the American soil, a single white person could be found who would befriend him at all hazards, for the love of God and humanity! Capable of high attainments as an intellectual and moral being--needing noting but a comparatively small amount of cultivation to

make him an ornament to society and a blessing to his race--by the law of the land, by the voice of the people, by the terms of the slave code, he was only piece of property, a beast of burden, a chattel personal, nevertheless! Frederick Douglass, The Church and Prejudice I used to attend a Methodist church, in which my master was a class leader; he would talk most sanctimoniously about the dear Redeemer, who was sent "to preach deliverance to the captives, and set at liberty them that are bruised"--he could pray at morning, pray at noon, and pray at night; yet he could lash up my poor cousin by his two thumbs, and inflict stripes and blows upon his bare back, till the blood streamed to the ground! all the time quoting scripture, for his

authority, and appealing to that passage of the Holy Bible which says, "He that knoweth his master's will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes!" Such was the amount of this good Methodist's piety. Frederick Douglass, The Relation of the Free Church to the Slave Church There is a law above all other enactmentsit is the law written by the finger of God upon the heart, that man shall not hold property in man. . . . Slavery exists because it is popular. We have to make it unpopular. What would be thought of the man who said he was diametrically opposed to slavery, while he went and took the money which was wrung from the blood, bones, and sinews of the slave, to build his church and pay his stipend? We would say he aided and abetted

slavery. If you hold fellowship with slaveholders, you virtually say to the world that a man can be a follower of the meek and lowly Jesus, although he be, at the same time, the vilest sinner. But whether it be assumed by others or not, I know it to be true, as truth can have no concord with lies, so a free church cannot hold fellowship with a slave one. No quarter is given to slavery by true freedom. If slavery is a sin, is violence against it ever justified? Nat Turner and the slave revolt John Brown and the armed insurrection

John Brown, The Martyr New York: Currier and Ives, 1870 The bloody harvest of Harper's Ferry was ripened by the heat and moisture of merciless bondage of more than two hundred years. That startling cry of alarm on the bank of the Potomac was but the answering back of the avenging angel to the midnight invasions of Christian slave-traders on the sleeping hamlets of Africa. The history of the

African slave-trade furnishes many illustrations far more cruel and bloody. Frederick Douglass, 1881 USE THE FORUM To post your primary document application guides. To continue the discussion. To share fresh approaches and discussion questions that work. To report on the effectiveness of the seminar text in your classes. THE END

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