THE MISSIONARY MOVEMENT
Many white people loved the souls of black people and preached the gospel to them.
The first such organization was The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts was established in London in 1701 and operating in the colonies.
The Moravians sought to evangelize blacks and Indians in the American colonies beginning in the 1730s. August Spangenburg and other Moravians preached to the blacks in Philadelphia in 1749.
Samuel Thomas and E. Taylor of Goose Creek, South Carolina, had some success evangelizing black slaves. By 1705, there were 1,000 slaves under instruction, “many of whom could read the Bible distinctly and great numbers of them were engaged in learning the scriptures” (Woodson, The History of the Negro Church). In some congregations, Negros constituted one-half of the communicants.
In North Carolina there were hundreds of conversions among the slaves. a school was founded by Thomas Bray.
In New York City, Elias Neau established a school for Negro slaves in 1704 when he saw that they “were without God in the world and of whose souls there was no manner of care taken.”
There was also missionary work among the black slaves in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
In New England, Cotton Mather called for the evangelization of slaves and drew up rules “by which masters should be governed in the instruction of their slaves.” He did not believe that God made black people “only to serve the lusts of epicures or the gains of mammonists.”
The Methodists had some success in evangelizing blacks prior to the War of Independence. “From 1773 to 1776 there was a great revival of religion in Virginia under the preaching of the Methodists in connection with Rev. Mr. Jarratt of the Episcopal Church, which spread through fourteen counties in Virginia and two in North Carolina’” (William Du Bois, The Negro Church). The black Methodist churches in the north organized the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1821. By 1829 it had a membership of nearly 10,000.
Presbyterian preacher Samuel Davies (1723-1761), one of greatest orators of the day, labored for the education and conversion of blacks. During his missionary labors in western Virginia from 1747 to 1759, he “converted hundreds of slaves to Christianity, with the help of Presbyterian ministers he mentored, brought his literacy campaign to more than one thousand enslave men and women” (“Samuel Davies, “Princeton and Slavery,” princeton.edu).
Baptists included blacks in their congregations from the inception. “The first Separate Baptist congregation in Virginia, albeit a short-lived one, may have been formed among slaves on the plantation of William Byrd III in 1758. African American and Virginia Indian men occasionally served as exhorters, deacons, and even elders (the highest office of leadership among Baptists) in mixed-race congregations. ... Blacks had the right to bring charges against whites in Baptist disciplinary proceedings” (Thomas Kidd, “The Great Awakening in Virginia,” EncyclopediaVirginia.org).
Many whites assisted blacks in church planting efforts and in purchasing the liberty of slaves. For example, the first black Baptist church in America, at Silver Bluff, South Carolina, in about 1773, was under the patronage of “the kind master, George Galphin” (Carter Woodson, The History of the Negro Church). The first black preacher of that church, George Liele, was liberated by his master so he could preach to slaves along the Savannah River. In 1788, a black church was formed in Savannah, Georgia, under the patronage of white Kioke Baptist Church, the first Baptist church founded in Georgia. Abraham Marshall, pastor of Kioke Baptist Church, ordained the black slave Andrew Bryan as pastor of the Savannah church. The white Christians raised money to help the black church obtain its own property and to purchase the freedom of Bryan and his wife. White Presbyterians raised the money to purchase the liberty of Harrison Ellis and his family at a cost of $2,500, a very large amount of money in that day.
THE ABOLITIONIST MOVEMENT
There was widespread opposition to slavery from the founding of the American colonies, but abolition became a groundswell movement during the Second Great Awakening, both in America and England. The culmination in America was the Civil War of 1860-65, after which slavery was officially abolished.
When Abraham Lincoln delivered the emancipation proclamation in January 1863, former slave Frederick Douglas, who had personal knowledge of every aspect of the abolition movement, spoke of the “MILLIONS of free and loyal men who have earnestly sought to free your bleeding country from the dreadful ravages of revolution and anarchy” (H.W. Brands, The Zealot and the Emancipator, p. 340).
Following are some of the important events:
1652 - Under the leadership of Roger Williams, Rhode Island passed a law against slavery. The colony had received a charter eight years earlier from the king of England.
1688 - The colony of Pennsylvania produced the first anti-slavery document in America, the Germantown Petition of 1688. “To bring men hither, or to rob and sell them against their will, we stand against ... We ... are against this traffic of men-body. And we who profess that it is not lawful to steal, must, likewise, avoid to purchase such things as are stolen.”
1737 - Quaker Benjamin Lay published a paper against “All Slave Keepers that Keep the Innocent in Bondage.” He called slavery “a notorious sin.”
1773 - Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence, published On Slave Keeping. He called it a “vice which degrades human nature” and urged Americans to oppose it.
1774 - Quakers ended slavery among themselves, and those who persisted in owning slaves were expelled.
1774 - The Society for the Relief of Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage was founded in Philadelphia; Benjamin Franklin was one of the presidents
1776 - Samuel Hopkins, Congregational minister, published A Dialogue Concerning the Slavery of the Africans. Addressed to the members of the Continental Congress, it called for the end of slavery in America. He said, “[I]f any kind of slavery can be vindicated by the Holy Scriptures, we are already sure our making and holding the Negroes our slaves, as we do, cannot be vindicated by any thing we can find there, but is condemned by the whole of divine revelation.”
1777 - John Jay, later Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, made his first attempt to end slavery in New York, finally succeeding in 1799.
1790 - Benjamin Franklin petitioned the U.S. Congress to ban slavery
1790 - The Connecticut Society for the Promotion of Freedom was founded. Members included two presidents of Yale College (Ezra Stiles and Timothy Dwight), Congressman Simeon Baldwin. Senator William Hillhouse, and Judge David Daggett.
1791 - Jonathan Edwards published The Injustice and Impolicy of the Slave Trade and of the Slavery of the Africans. It was a sermon preached before The Society for the Promotion of Freedom, and for the Relief of Persons Unlawfully Holden in Bondage, Sept. 15, 1791. Edwards built has argument principally upon Christ’s command to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” He used strong language, calling slavery and the slave trade “unjust ... wicked and abominable ... utterly wrong ... exceedingly impolitic,” and saying that “slavery produces ... intemperance, lewdness and prodigality ... haughtiness and a domineering spirit.”
1793 - Noah Webster, author of the Blue-Back Speller, published an abolitionist pamphlet entitled Effects of Slavery on Morals and Industry.
1794 - The U.S. government passed a law prohibiting slavery in new American territories.
1794 - The American Convention for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery was founded.
1803 - The Pennsylvania Abolition Society was founded; Benjamin Rush, an American Founding Father, was the first president.
1807 - Abolitionist Baptist churches in Kentucky formed the Baptized Licking-Locust Association and refused to receive slave owners as church members. The pastors included Donald Holmes, Carter Tarrant, Jacob Grigg, and George Smith (Woodson, The History of the Negro Church, 1921).
1808 - Baptist pastor David Barrow, published Involuntary, Unmerited, Perpetual, Absolute, Hereditary Slavery, examined on the principles of Nature, Reason, Justice, Policy, and Scripture.
1808 - The U.S. government outlawed American participation in the African slave trade.
1816 - George Bourne, a Presbyterian preacher, published The Book and Slavery Irreconcilable; he said any slaveholder who considers himself a Christian is “either an incurable Idiot who cannot distinguish good from evil, or an obdurate sinner who resolutely defies every social, moral, and divine requisition.”
1821 - The first American anti-slavery newspaper was founded (The Genius of Universal Emancipation)
1823 - There were 25 manumission societies in Tennessee alone, with others in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Georgia. The purpose was to promote the emancipation of slaves and to purchase slave families for liberation. Hundreds were liberated, often at great cost to the slave owners, who were required to post bonds or provide land or money for the support of the freed blacks. For example, “In Ky. in 1847, in Owen Co., Susan Herndon Rogers freed the ten slaves of the Locust family and gave them 403 acres known as Free Station, or Mountain Island. Susan’s brother, James Herndon, executed a bond in 1853 for $21,000 in order to have his twenty-two slaves manumitted. James Herndon’s manumitted slaves, the Carroll, Smith, and Vinegar families, divided 125 acres at Mountain Island” (“Emancipationists in Northern Kentucky,” Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, 2009).
1830s - The Underground Railway was established to help runaway slaves escape to the northern states and Canada, ultimately assisting an estimated 90,000 escapees.
1831 - William Lloyd Garrison founded The Liberator, a prominent weekly antislavery newspaper.
1833 - The American Antislavery Society was founded and within five years it had more than 1,350 chapters and 250,000 members.
1833 - John Greenleaf Whittier published Justice and Expediency, which stated, “I come now to the only practicable, the only just scheme of emancipation: Immediate abolition of slavery; an immediate acknowledgment of the great truth, that man cannot hold property in man; an immediate surrender of baneful prejudice to Christian love; an immediate practical obedience to the command of Jesus Christ: "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them.”
1852 - Harriet Beecher Stowe published Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was influential in stirring abolitionist sentiment. It sold 10,000 copies in a week, 100,000 in ten weeks, and 300,000 by year’s end.
1856 - The Republican Party was formed as a coalition of various political groups opposing slavery.
1859 - John Brown unsuccessfully tried to capture the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, to launch a slave revolt.
1863 - Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation abolishing slavery in the Confederate States.
1865 - The Civil War ended and the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery in all states
The antislavery cause was supported by many famous Americans, including Benjamin Franklin, Jonathan Edwards, Noah Webster, Lyman Beecher, Henry Ward Beecher, Henry David Thoreau, John Greenleaf Whittier, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Charles Finney,
THE CIVIL WAR
The Republican Party was formed chiefly on the antislavery platform, and it won 55% of the vote in the North in the 1860 election that put Abraham Lincoln into office. With no help from the southern states, Lincoln won 25 more electoral votes than he needed to win the presidency.
The Civil War was fought prominently over the issue of slavery, and multitudes of whites died in that war on the side of abolition.
In 1865, immediately after the Civil War, the white Republicans in Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery.
In 1866, the white Republicans in Congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution granting citizenship to former slaves and equal protection under the law. Republicans campaigned on this program in the 1866 midterm elections. Voters rewarded them with veto-proof majorities in both houses of Congress. This is clear proof that a strong majority of whites in all of the Union states supported black civil rights.
It was whites who promoted Reconstruction in the southern states to guarantee blacks their Constitutional rights. It was accomplished by a white president and a white Congress.
Hundreds of white men and women moved to the South to educate blacks and to help them achieve their rights and otherwise uplift their status in society.
“The advance made by Negroes in the first half century after emancipation was phenomenal. ... To no small degree, it was due to the fact that the Negroes were immersed in the white man’s culture and because many whites gave themselves unselfishly to the freedmen and their children. Much must be ascribed to the native ability of the Negroes themselves. Not a little, however, was because of the impulse which came through Christianity” (Kenneth Latourette, A History of Christianity).
Northern Baptists poured personnel and funds into the South to assist the freed slaves.
“In the years immediately following the Civil War, northern white Baptists made deep inroads among the black Baptists of the South, especially in the work in higher education. ... The northern whites established new churches, published Christian Education literature, and set up education facilities throughout the South. From 1865-1905 there was the tremendous period in the development of education among black Baptists, indeed, the majority of the schools founded by the whites for blacks came into existence before 1888” (William Banks, A History of Black Baptists in the United States, p. 70).
Booker T. Washington said of the white people who assisted the blacks following the Civil War, “The history of the world fails to show a higher, purer, and more unselfish class of men and women than those who found their way into those Negro schools. ... Whenever it is written--and I hope it will be--the part that the Yankee teachers played in the education of the Negroes immediately after the war will make one of the most thrilling parts of the history of his country. ... If no other consideration had convinced me of the value of the Christian life, the Christlike work which the Church of all denominations in America has done during the last thirty-five years for the elevation of the black man would have made me a Christian. In a large degree it has been the pennies, the nickels, and the dimes which have come from the Sunday-schools, the Christian Endeavour societies, and the missionary societies, as well as from the church proper, that have helped to elevate the Negro at so rapid a rate” (Up from Slavery).
Many whites in the South supported the education and civil liberties of the blacks. Booker T. Washington said, “... the Tuskegee school at the present time has no warmer and more enthusiastic friends anywhere than it has among the white citizens of Tuskegee and throughout the state of Alabama and the entire South” (Up from Slavery).
The Feedman’s Commission, organized in 1865, soon had more than 700 schools with 1,200 teachers serving 70,000 black students (Henry Mayer, All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery, p. 594).
There were dozens of schools founded for blacks by Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Congregationalists, and others.
There were many Freedmen Aid Societies, such as the National Freedmen Relief Association of New York (14 teachers), the Philadelphia Society (60 teachers), and the Northwestern Freemen’s Aid Commission (50 teachers). Millions of dollars in aid was contributed by the Freedmen societies, primarily geared toward education. Funding came from whites and blacks, individuals, businesses, societies, and the government.
A large part of the education included religious instruction. “While education was necessary for the Negroes as for all other persons, the chief need of the Negro, as most of these workers observed it, was religion. Acting upon this idea, therefore, almost every Negro school provided in some way for religious instruction. If the course of study were not sufficiently broad to base thereupon a more advanced course, there was usually provided some instruction in the English Bible. In case the course of study became so pretentious as to style itself a college curriculum, there was usually added the regular course in theology” (Carter Woodson, The History of the Negro Church).
The schools sought to impart a love for learning. “While they did not always hold the students long enough to impart all that a college graduate or a professional man should know, they so inspired the youth with the love of study that the habit once formed led them into fields of research and endeavor which men much better trained often failed to reach” (Woodson, The History of the Negro Church).
Baptist Missionary Pioneers among Negroes, published in about 1922, contains biographical sketches of 21 men and women who founded 12 Baptist educational institutions for blacks. Their sacrifice was great.
Consider Spelman College of Atlanta, Georgia, which was founded by Harriett Giles and Sophia Packard of Boston. On a visit to the South in 1880, Miss Packard saw the need for the education of black women, but when she submitted the plan to the American Baptist Home Mission Society, it was disapproved for lack of funds. Packard and her friend Miss Giles were invited to present their plan to the church of Pastor J.P. Abbott of Medford, Massachusetts. The church gave them $100, and they moved to Atlanta by faith. There they met Pastor Quarles of Friendship Baptist Church who told them that he had been praying for 15 years for God to send teachers to start a school in his city. He gave them use of the church basement, and the school opened on April 11, 1881, with a staff of two white women and 11 black women and no equipment except Bibles, notebooks, and pencils. The basement was dark and damp.”There were no desks, the seats being plank benches. The floor was loose and the smoke so dense it was difficult to distinguish teachers from pupils.” That winter, Pastor Quarles traveled to New York and Boston in an attempt to secure funds for the school, but he died on the journey. The second year, there were 75 students, but the financial situation was bleak. By the summer of 1883, the two women knew that if help did not come they would have to close the school. They prepared to travel to Boston. The night before, Miss Packard walked the floor all night pleading with God to make his will known. “In the morning a letter came from Rev. Mr. King, Pastor of the Wilson Avenue Church, Cleveland, Ohio, a former pupil of theirs in Suffield Academy, asking them to go to Boston via Cleveland, Ohio, and present the needs of their work in his church. Mr. John D. Rockefeller was in the audience and heard their plea for the school. He emptied his purse into the plate as it was passed, and after the meeting asked this question: ‘Are you going to stick? If so, I will help you.’” The women set out to raise $15,000 for nine acres of land with five wooden buildings, which they raised in one summer. “Men and women of means gave freely, but the poor seamstresses and washerwomen sacrificed needful supplies so that Negro girls could have a school.” Rockefeller funded four new buildings. Miss Packard died in June 1891 and Miss Giles in November 1909. By 1921, there were more than 50 teachers and 800 pupils. The school owned 20 ares of land and property worth half a million dollars. “Many graduates are teaching, and others are nursing; some have gone to Africa as missionaries, others are in many lines of social service, and many have made happy Christian homes which testify to the value of Christian teaching in Spelman Seminary.”
Another example is Henry Martin Tupper, founder of Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was born and raised in Massachusetts and had a zeal for learning from his youth, reading everything he could find. He was saved at age 18 and walked 20 miles to the nearest Baptist church to be baptized. He graduated from Amherst College and Newton Theological Seminary and fought in the Civil War on the side of the Union, engaging in the famous battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg. While in seminary, he had taught a large Sunday School class of young black men and had considered being a missionary to Africa. After the war, he was asked by the American Baptist Home Mission Society to go South as a missionary to the freedman, and he chose Raleigh as his place of service. In October 1865, he and his wife arrived in North Carolina. There was a lot of bitterness toward the North and the condition of the black freedmen was pitiable. “Many were literally homeless. He secured food and clothing for them from the Freedman’s Bureau, and at one time he had 175 people over 75 years old whom he assisted daily in obtaining rations.” He organized a Baptist church in 1866 and purchased land for a church house from the money he had saved as a soldier. He opened a school in 1868 and was the only teacher for some time. “He began his recitations at seven a.m., and taught until five p.m., with one hour of intermission. He also taught the evening school.” The students were poor, and some funds were obtained from the Freedman’s Aid and the Peabody Fund. In 1870, he began receiving black females into the school. “He soon found that in order to elevate the race, Christian young women must be educated, if the wives and mothers were to make the right kinds of homes.” There were many difficulties during the first ten years. “[O]ften the hostility and opposition of the white people led to many fines, litigations and persecutions.” Tupper’s custom when money was needed was first to have seasons of special and united prayer. “Often the money needed was received at the precise time of the services.” In 1881, a property was purchased with $13,000 that Tupper raised in a six-week trip to the North. He and the students manufactured their own bricks to build the first buildings and to sell for the needs of the school. In 1880, a medical school was founded with the pledge of the first $5,000 by a brother of Mrs. Tupper. He pledge was made on the condition that an equal sum could be raised, and Tupper raised the second $5,000 in less than three weeks on a trip North. The legislature of North Carolina granted a gift of land for the school. One of the graduates of Shaw, C.S. Brown, founded the Waters Institute at Winton, North Carolina. When he first visited Winton, he returned with a discouraging report. “The colored people were ignorant and irreligious; the white people were not in favor of Negro education, and the location was undesirable.” Tupper gave Brown $10 and said, “I want you to go to Winton and start a school with this money.” And he did by God’s grace. He had learned faith, hard work, and persistence from his mentor. Tupper died in November 1892 after saying, “All is happy with me. I have passed the final examinations.” Graduates of Shaw built Christian homes, established churches, taught in schools, and were missionaries in Africa, South and Central America, and the West Indies.
These schools had great success in raising the educational, cultural, and moral standard of the black freedmen. H.L. Moorehouse, corresponding secretary of the American Baptist Home Missionary Society, testified, “I am prepared to say that the investment made in the Negro race has paid a hundredfold” (Baptist Missionary Pioneers among Negroes, p. 69).
The American Missionary Association was founded in 1868 and eventually had more than 500 missionaries and teachers working among the blacks.
Sunday schools were formed across the south for the training of black children.
The American Bible Society and the American Tract Society distributed millions of copies of Bibles and religious materials among freed blacks.
THE JIM CROW ERA
Many whites paid for their love of the black man with their lives.
Of the 4,750 lynchings that took place between 1882 and 1968, 1,307 were whites who were killed for their support of blacks (William Banks, A History of Black Baptists in the United States, p. 77).
In 1868, white Republican Congressman James Hinds was assassinated by Democrat vigilantes because of his support of black civil rights.
That same year, the KKK assassinated George Ashburn, a leading white Republican in Georgia who assisted in writing Georgia’s new reconstructionist constitution. He was among the white minority in the South who opposed succession. Before the Civil War, he came to see slavery as evil and quit his job as a plantation overseer. He fought on the side of the Union and returned home to Georgia after the war with the following dream: “I only hope to live to see Georgia reconstructed and to lay my bones in soil consecrated to liberty, within her borders” (Lane, Freedom’s Detective, p. 17). Ashburn was appointed a judge by the military governor George Meade and called to order the Georgia Constitutional Convention of 1867 to remove restrictions on the civil rights of African Americans. Ashburn was shot to death on the evening of March 30, 1868, in his boarding room by four KKK shooters. All were Democrats. One was the chairman of the local Democratic Party; another was the Democratic clerk of the Muscogee County court. They were captured and brought to trial in a federal court, but the government made a deal with Georgia Democrats to stop the trial in exchange for Georgia’s ratification of the 14th Amendment. No one was ever punished for the assassination.
There was resistance to the KKK by whites in many places. In Texas, for example, “a number of outspoken district judges ordered investigations and some sheriffs and city officials attempted to prevent Klan parades. ... The mayor of Dallas demanded that the Klan disband. Forty-nine members of the state legislature petitioned a silent governor for an antimask law. Chambers of commerce, American Legion posts, DARs, the Texas Bar Association, and others denounced the Klan or wrote to the Justice Department for action. The Masons struck out resolutely against the Klan, and the Grand Master traveled all over the state trying to stem Klan inroads in his lodges. The Houston Chronicle editorially told the Klan: ‘Boys, you’d better disband,’ and an anti-Klan citizen’s league was formed in Dallas. ... by 1923, some district attorneys were beginning to prosecute the Klan successfully. The credit was due primarily to Lt. Gov. T.W. Davidson, the Texas Rangers, and to increasingly resolute juries. ... [By 1926] the general revulsion against Klan-preached hatred and brutal floggings, plus the enforcement of the laws, and political defeat, had crumbled Klan power. Scores of thousands dropped out” (David Chalmers, Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan).
In Georgia, Julian Harris, editor of the Columbia Enquirer-Sun, exposed Klan deeds. He was joined by the Madisonian, the Dalton Citizen, the Americus Times-Recorder, the Cobb County Times, and the Cartersville Tribune-News.
In 1919, the Commission on Interracial Cooperation (CIC) was founded by Southern whites who sought to promote racial reconciliation and to assist blacks in their struggle for civil liberties. “CIC committees in hundreds of local communities involved leading blacks and whites in ongoing discussions on how to stop mob violence and improve race relations” (Nancy MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry).
In Georgia in 1923, Judia Jackson Harris of the Athens Teacher Training and Industrial Institute and some other prominent whites denounced the “reign of terror” under which black people lived.
The American Library Association and the YMCA educated illiterate black soldiers and invited black women to serve in hostess houses at training camps (David Krugler, The Year of Racial Violence, p. 19).
Some white people protected blacks during riots (Krugler, pp. 111, 121). White nurses in a hospital in Monroe, Louisiana, protected a black man from a white mob that was attempting to murder him. He had been wrongly blamed for writing a letter to a black woman (he was illiterate) and had been shot and wounded. “The chagrined mob, wearing masks, came to the hospital on April 28, pushing aside two white nurses to finish the lynching in the black ward. They attacked a patient who had just returned from surgery--but the man was not Holden. (The unfortunate man died the next day.) The nurses called the police, who gave them a pistol but also advised them to give up Holden if the mob came back. Their humiliation and frustration mounting, mob members returned within the hour, but the nurses refused to let the men pass. One woman fired a warning shot; another ripped off a mask, exposing a man she knew. The mob fled as the nurses held the unmasked man for the police” (Krugler, p. 279).
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