Thursday, May 21, 2009

Religious Pressure to Eliminate Slavery

I found the following citations at the Connecticut Historical Society in the space of about 45 minutes. Since I have an actual paying job doing other things, that is all the time I could devote. But in that short time, and focusing only on Connecticut, I found an impressive list of speeches/sermons made against slavery in 1800's America.

As you look over the list, keep in mind the various complaints we hear today when ministers and priest speak out on moral issues. They are said to violate the so-called "separation of church and state." Such an understanding of our First Amendment's limitations is a product of the last 60 years, but this was not the understanding of our Founding Fathers or those who followed for the next 150 years.

Considering the citations below are produced with very little research from one state only, imagine what was happening in the entire country during that time. Then imagine what the national resolve to abolish slavery would have been without the religious leaders speaking out about its evils.

African Civilization Society.
Constitution of the African Civilization Society; Together With the Testimony of Forty Distinguished Citizens of New York and Brooklyn, to the Importance of the Objects Contemplated by its Friends. Also the Anniversary Address, Delivered by Rev. Joseph P. Thompson, D.D., at the Annual Meeting of the Society, May 19th, 1861. New Haven: Thomas J. Stafford, 1861.
Reprinted from the New Englander for Oct. 1861. Constitution and inaugural address of a society intended to foster the "civilization and Christianization of Africa ... the destruction of the African slave-trade ... and generally, the elevation of the condition of the colored population of our own country, and of other lands."

American Tract Society. Hartford Branch.
Speeches of Chief Justice Williams, Judge Parsons, and Ex-Governor Ellsworth: delivered in the Center Church, Hartford, Conn. at the Anniversary of the Hartford Branch of the American Tract Society. January 9th, 1859. Hartford: Elihu Geer, 1859.
Responses, on behalf of the Tract Society, to those critical of the Society for its decision not to include antislavery tracts among its publications.

Anti-Slavery Society of Meriden, Connecticut.
An Apology for Abolitionists: Addressed by the Anti-Slavery Society of Meriden, Conn., to Their Fellow-citizens. Middletown: C. H. Pelton, 1837.
"Free people of color would rapidly improve in their moral and physical condition. A load of prejudice now crushes them in the dust. They cannot rise because they are deprived of the motives and facilities for self-improvement. We ... would correct all these evils, and cause men in this so call christian [sic] and democratic country, to be treated, according to the bible [sic], without distinction of color."

Bacon, Theodore Davenport.
Leonard Bacon, a Statesman in the Church. Ed. Benjamin W. Bacon. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1931.
A biography of the New Haven clergyman intimately involved in the antislavery agitation of the pre-Civil War era. It especially highlights the infighting between advocates of colonization, as Rev. Mr. Bacon was, and the abolitionists and maintains the general historic view that radicals caused the war and the failure of Reconstruction.

Benezet, Anthony.
Serious Considerations on Several Important Subjects; viz., on War and Its Inconsistency With the Gospel; Observations on Slavery; And Remarks on the Nature and Bad Effects of Spiritous Liquors. Philadelphia: J. Crukshank, 1778.
Philadelphia Quaker attacks slavery as inconsistent "with every right of mankind, with every feeling of humanity, and every precept of Christianity."

Brisbane, William H.
Speech of the Rev. Wm. H. Brisbane, Lately a Slaveholder in South Carolina; Containing an Account of the Change in his Views on the Subject of Slavery. Delivered before the Ladies' Anti-slavery Society of Cincinnati, February 12, 1840. Hartford: S.S. Cowles, 1840.
Convinced that slavery was evil he emancipated his slaves and urges others to do the same; but asks: "What is a Christian slaveholder to do, whose State laws forbid the emancipation of his slaves?" Suggests voluntary payment of wages to slaves, and active agitation for repeal of laws forbidding emancipation.

Bushnell, Horace.
A Discourse on the Slavery Question, Delivered in the North Church, Hartford, Thursday Evening, Jan. 10, 1839. 3rd ed. Hartford: Case, Tiffany, 1839.
Condemnation of slavery on the basis of the injustices that bondage inflicts on African-Americans in relation to their marriage and family life, their subjugation to cruel treatment, and that legally it fails to recognise the slave as a being with a "moral and intellectual nature." Responds to those who attempt to excuse the continued toleration of slavery. (Library also has 2nd ed., 1839).

Bushnell, Horace.
The Northern Iron: A Discourse Delivered in the North Church, Hartford, on the Annual State Fast, April 14, 1854. Hartford: Edwin Hunt, 1854.
States that it is both morally and politically wrong to compromise with the evil of slavery from fear that to do so would drive the South out of the Union. Argues that on cultural and economic grounds it would be virtually suicidal for the South to try to stand alone on the foundation of a slave society.

Bushnell, Horace.
Politics Under the Law of God: A Discourse, Delivered in the North Congregational Church, Hartford, on Annual Fast of 1844. 2nd ed. Hartford: Edwin Hunt, 1844.
Christians have a responsibility to participate in public affairs, and to resist compromise with evil measures, among which is the extension of slavery. "Slavery is a great moral wrong and political evil."

Cheever, George Barrell.
The Commission from God, of the Missionary Enterprise, Against the Sin of Slavery.... An Address, Delivered in Tremont Temple, Boston, Thursday, May 27th, 1858, Before the American Missionary Society. Tracts for Thinking Men and Women, No. 3. Boston: J. P. Jewett; Cleveland, OH: H. P. B. Jewett, 1858.
Exposition on the sinfulness of slavery; recounts injustices practiced on African-Americans; stresses duty of Christian to oppose slavery in every possible way.

Church Anti-Slavery Society.
Letter to the Churches. New York: N. Muller, 1859.
Constitution and statement of principles of an organization intended to "unite all Christians ... against slavery, and to concentrate the energies of the Christian ministry and of Christian Churches upon the extinction of that great sin."

Clarke, James Freeman.
The Rendition of Anthony Burns, Its Causes and Consequences: A Discourse on Christian Politics, Delivered in Williams Hall, Boston, on Whitsunday, June 4, 1854. Boston: Crosby, Nichols, and Prentiss & Sawyer, 1854.
Examines return of Burns to slavery, and slavery in general, from a social, legal, and moral perspective and condemns both. States that humane considerations override the purely legal position to which the "respectable" cling in approving Burns' return to servitude.

Cooley, Timothy Mather.
Sketches of the Life and Character of the Rev. Lemuel Haynes, A.M., For Many Years Pastor of a Church in Rutland, Vt., and Late in Granville, New-York. ... With Some Introductory Remarks by William B. Sprague, D.D. New York: Harper, 1837.
Biography and encomium of Rev. Lemuel Haynes, an African-American minister to white churches in Vermont, New York, and Connecticut in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Included are many letters and sermons written by Haynes. The book has a definite theological cast.

Dana, James.
The African Slave Trade; A Discourse Delivered in the City of New-Haven, September 9, 1790, Before the Connecticut Society for The Promotion of Freedom. New-Haven: Printed Thomas and Samuel Green, 1791.
Condemns slave trade on religious and economic grounds; cites statistics from the 1790 census relating to proportions of slaves to free populations in the states, value of trade, etc.

Dexter, Henry M.
Our National Condition, and its Remedy: A Sermon Preached in the Pine Street Church, Boston, on Sunday, June 22, 1856. Boston: John P. Jewett, 1856.
Identifies slavery as the principal national evil; condemns it on ethical and political grounds; notes its vicious effect on the slaveholder, but does not discuss its effect on the slave.

Dwight, William Theodore.
The Work and the Workmen: A Discourse in Behalf of the American Home Missionary Society, Preached in the City of New York, May 8, 1859. New York: American Home Missionary Society, 1859.
Includes section at end stressing the importance of free Christians settling the West to prevent spread of slavery, which he asserts is inimical to the spirit of freedom, industry, and religion.

Edwards, Jonathan.
The Injustice and Impolicy of the Slave Trade, and of The Slavery of the Africans: Illustrated in a Sermon Preached Before the Connecticut Society for the Promotion of Freedom, and For the Relief of Persons Unlawfully Holden in Bondage, at their Annual Meeting in New-Haven, Sept. 15, 1791. 2nd ed. Boston: Wells & Lilly, 1822.
Library also has the third (1833) edition. Asserts that to "hold a negro slave is a greater sin than fornication, theft or robbery." Spirited religious and social condemnation of slavery; challanges the white to put himself in the African-American's position.

Gillette, Francis.
A Review of the Rev. Horace Bushnell's Discourse of the Slavery Question, Delivered in the North Church, Hartford, January 10, 1839. Hartford: S. S. Cowles, 1839.
Condemns Bushnell's Discourse for being antislavery but not aggressively abolitionist. Calls for an aggressive stance in opposing and destroying the institution of slavery.

Granger, Arthur.
The Apostle Paul's Opinion of Slavery and Emancipation: A Sermon Preached to the Congregational Church and Society in Meriden, at the Request of Several Respectable Anti-Abolitionists. Middletown: Charles H. Pelton, 1837.
States that whereas slavery as described in the ancient civilizations and countenanced in the Bible is radically different from American slavery, an appeal to Scripture cannot be used to justify to American slavery. Calls for an early end to American slavery.

Grant, Ellsworth Strong.
The City of Hartford, 1784-1984: An Illustrated History. Hartford: The Connecticut Historical Society, 1986.
Has several references to African-American churches, personages, and organizations in Hartford.

Green, Beriah.
Four Sermons, Preached in the Chapel of the Western Reserve College ... November ... and December ... 1832. Cleveland, OH: Office of the Herald, 1833.
Religious response to the assertion of the Colonizationists that there is a natural prejudice against African-Americans, and that they are best returned to Africa. Asserts this prejudice is not Christian.

Gregory, Caspar R.
A Sermon Preached before the United Congregations of Oneida, by Caspar R. Gregory, Pastor of Presbyterian Church, Nov. 24, 1859. Oneida: Office of the Oneida Sachem, 1859.
Opposes the ugly ulcer of slavery, but cautions moderation in dealing with it, lest in destroying slavery, the Republic be also destroyed.

Grosvenor, D. A.
The Laws of Ohio Respecting Colored People, Shown to be Unjust, Impolitic and Disgraceful: A Discourse Delivered on Thanksgiving Day, by Rev. D. A. Grosvenor, Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Elyria, Nov. 20, 1845. Hudson, OH: Office of the Ohio Observer, 1845.
Detailed examination on legal, moral, and sociological grounds.

Gulliver, J. P.
The Lioness and Her Whelps: A Sermon on Slavery Preached in the Broadway Congregational Church, Norwich, Connecticut, December 18, 1859. Norwich: Manning, Perry, 1860.
Condemns slavery, but more from perspective of its evil effects on the slaverholder and the commonwealth, than on its evil consequences for African- American people themselves.

Hartford. Fourth Congregational Church.
The Unanimous Remonstrance of the Fourth Congregational Church, Hartford, Conn., Against the Policy of the American Tract Society on the Subject of Slavery. Hartford: Silas Andrus & Son, 1855.
Criticism of the American Tract Society for its weak stance on the antislavery movement.

James, Horace.
Our Duties to the Slave: A Sermon Preached Before the Original Congregational Church and Society in Wrentham, Mass., on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1846. Boston: Richardson & Filmer, 1847.
Appeals to his hearers to defend the slave from being defrauded of his labor; from cruel treatment; to grant the slaves justice by granting freedom and by securing jury trials for those accused of crimes or fleeing from servitude.

McLeod, Alexander.
Negro Slavery Unjustifiable: A Discourse by Alexander McLeod, A.M. New York: T. & J. Swords, 1802.
Equates slavery with man-stealing, as condemned in Scripture (Exodus 21:16). Preached in response to call to serve a Presbyterian Church in New York State, in which he knew there were slaveholders in the congregation.

Niles, John Milton.
Speech of Mr. Niles, of Connecticut, on the Petitions of a Society of Friends in Pennsylvania, Praying for the Abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia. In Senate, February 15, 1836. Washington, D.C.: Blair & Rives, 1836.
Defends right of citizens to petition Congress for the abolition of slavery and asserts it is the duty of Congress to receive such petitions; discusses legal and philosophical aspects of slavery from an antislavery point of view.

Porter, Noah.
Two Sermons on Church Communion and Excommunication, With a Particular View to the Case of Slaveholders in the Church. Hartford: Case, Tiffany, 1853.
While opposed to slavery as a moral evil, the church should not exclude the slaveholder from the sacraments of the church. Attempts to distinguish between the slaveholder and the system of slavery in this regard.

Putnam, Alfred Porter.
A Discourse on William Lloyd Garrison, and the Anti-slavery Movement, Delivered at the Church of the Savior, Brooklyn, N. Y., Sunday Evening, June 1, 1879. Brooklyn: Tremlett, 1879.
Appreciative funeral eulogy, stressing Garrison's leadership of the antislavery cause.

Richmond, Legh.
Little Jane: Or, the Young Cottager, and Other Stories. New York: Carlton & Phillips, 1855.
Juvenile. Reprint of an English collection by the publishing house of the Methodist Episcopal Church; includes story entitled "The Negro Servant," vehicle for a condemnation of slavery and the slave trade (pp. 5-50).

Rockwell, John A.
California and New Mexico: Speech of Mr. John A. Rockwell, of Connecticut, in Relation to Slavery in the Territories, Delivered in the House of Representatives of the United States, February 17, 1849. Washington, D.C.: J. & C. Gideon, [1849].
Supports resolutions of the Connecticut legislature of 24 June 1847, praying that territories acquired as result of the Mexican War remain forever free from slavery. Quotes resolutions and excerpts from various related documents.

Silliman, Benjamin.
Some of the Causes of National Anxiety: An Address, Delivered in Centre Church in New-Haven, July 4, 1832. [s. l.: s. n., ca. 1832]
Characterizes slavery as an "enormous evil"; believes colonization to be the best solution because it "holds out an inducement for emancipation, which proves to be effectual; tends to allay fears of insurrection"; and prepares the way "for the final redemption of Africa."

Stanton, R. P.
Slavery Viewed in the Light of the Golden Rule: A Discourse Delivered in the Fourth Congregational Church, of Norwich, at Greeneville, Conn., December 19, 1860. Norwich: Published by Members of the Congregation, 1860.
Spirited attack on slavery as vicious, cruel, and unjust to the slave and sinful in itself. Scornful of apologists for slavery as a benevolent institution.

Stowe, Harriet Elizabeth Beecher.
Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp. 2 vols. Boston: Phillips, Sampson, 1856.
Mrs. Stowe's second antislavery novel shows the damaging effect of slavery on whites, whose destruction is predicted by Dred, a God-obsessed runaway slave. Dred is cast as the son of Denmark Vesey; and Milly, a majestic bonds-woman, is based on Sojourner Truth. The appendix includes Nat Turner's confessions, some judicial records of masters killing slaves, and the abysmal record of the church on slavery.

Thacker, George.
No Fellowship With Slavery: A Sermon Delivered June 29th, 1856, in the First Congregational Church, Meriden, Conn. Meriden: L. R. Webb, 1856.
Condemns slavery on moral, economic and political grounds. Speaking from the point of view of the African-American person: "It is enough to know that the slaves themselves regard their bondage as unprofitable for they have the best facilities for understanding its nature, as they have clearly the best right to judge of the advantages of their condition."

Thomas, Herman Edward.
An Analysis of the Life and Work of James W. C. Pennington, a Black Churchman and Abolitionist. Hartford Seminary Foundation Ph.D., 1978.
A critical study of the life and work of religious leader and abolitionist Pennington, including two appendices (award of honorary Doctor of Divinity degree to Pennington by University of Heidelberg and Pennington's activities in the temperance movement) and a bibliography.

Tyng, Dudley A.
Our Country's Troubles: A Sermon Preached in the Church of the Epiphany, Philadelphia, June 29, 1856 . Boston: John P. Jewett, 1856.
Opposes extension of slavery in relation to settlement of Kansas; states that slave labor demeans free labor, but does not reflect on its effect on the slave.

Updike, Wilkins.
History of the Episcopal Church in Narragansett, Rhode Island; Including a History of Other Episcopal Churches in the State; With an Appendix, ... Entitled, "American Dissected," by the Rev. J. Macsparren, ... With Notes Containing Genealogical and Biographical Accounts of Distinguished Men, Families, etc. New York: Henry M. Onderdonk, 1847.
Contains a history of slavery in Rhode Island with statistics furnished by E. R. Potter (pp. 168-188) and a brief account of Thomas Hazard and his antislavery activities.

Warner, Robert A.
Amos Gerry Beman, 1812-1874, A Memoir of a Forgotten Leader. Offprint from The Journal of Negro History, 22, No. 2 (April 1937): 200-221.
Brief biography of the life of Beman, born in Colchester, CT, pastor of the Temple Street African Church in New Haven in 1841, active in the temperance movement and antislavery organizations in Connecticut and nationally.

Westerly, RI.
The First Hundred Years: Pawcatuck Seventh Day Baptist Church, 1840-1940. Westerly: Utter, 1940.
Includes "Slavery and the Church," a general discussion of slavery in Rhode Island and the abolitionist attitudes of the Seventh Day Baptist Church (190- 199).

More information can be found at the Connecticut Historical Society

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