Religion and American Slavery

Lesson III. Religious Influences on Tensions Leading to the Civil War


Primary Sources

David Walker, Walker’s Appeal, in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, to the Coloured Citizens of the World (1829),

“George Bourne”, Photomechanical, 1830, Portraits of American Abolitionists, Photo. 81.60, Massachusetts Historical Society.

George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, or, The Failure of Free Society (1854),

James Henry Hammond, Gov. Hammond’s letters on southern slavery: addressed to Thomas Clarkson, the English abolitionist (1845),

Priest, Josiah. Slavery, as it Relates to the Negro, or African Race, Examined in the Light of Circumstances, History and the Holy Scriptures; With an Account of the Origin of the Black Man’s Color, Causes of His State of Servitude and Traces of His Character as Well in Ancient as in Modern Times. C. Van Benthuysen and Co., Albany, 1843.

Stringfellow, Thornton. A Brief Examination of Scripture Testimony on the Institution of Slavery, in an , Essay, First Published in the Religious Herald, and Republished by Request: With Remarks on a Letter of Elder Galusha, of New York, to Dr. R. Fuller, of South Carolina. [Washington: Printed at the Congressional Globe Office], 1850.

Weld, Theodore Dwight. The Anti-Slavery Examiner, No. 5. The Bible Against Slavery: An Inquiry into the Patriarchal and Mosaic Systems on the Subject of Human Rights. Third Edition – Revised. New York. Published by the American Anti-Slavery Society. 1838.  WM. S. Dorr, Printer.

Wesley John, A.M., Thoughts Upon Slavery, London, 1774.

Wilson, Joseph R. Mutual Relation of Masters and Slaves as Taught in the Bible. Discourse Preached in the First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Georgia, on Sabbath Morning, Jan. 6, 1861

Secondary Sources

Basu–Zharku, Julia O. “Slavery and Religion in the Antebellum South.” Inquiries Journal, Vol. 2 No. 01. 2011.

Conkin, Paul K.  American Originals: Homemade Varieties of Christianity. Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

Faust, Drew Gilpin. James Henry Hammond and the Old South:  A Design for Mastery. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982.

Foner, Eric. Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970.

Harbison, Jane Coleman, “Religion in the Early Modern Atlantic World: A Historiographical Appraisal.” Brown University Blogs. 2012. Accessed June 2022.

Jackson, Kellie Carter. Force and Freedom. Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019.

Johnson, Curtis D. “Sectarian Nation: Religious Diversity in Antebellum America.” OAH Magazine of History 22, no. 1 (2008): 14–18.

“The Making of African American Identity: Volume I, 1500-1865. Religious Songs of Enslaved African Americans.” The National Humanities Center. 2007,

McKivigan, John R. and Mitchell Snay, eds. Religion and the Antebellum Debate over Slavery. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998.

Mohamed, Besheer, Cox, Kiana, Diamant, Jeff, and Gecewicz, Claire. “A Brief Overview of Black Religious History in the U.S.” Pew Research Center. 2021. Accessed June 2022.

Newman, Richard S. “Protest in Black and White: The Formation and Transformation of an African American Political Community During the Early Republic.” In Beyond the Founders: New Approaches to the Political History of the Early American Republic. Edited Jeffrey L. Pasley, Andrew W. Robertson, and David Waldstreicher, 180-204. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.

Noll, Mark A. The Civil War as a Theological Crisis. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2019.

Sinha, Manisha. The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.

Raboteau, Albert J. Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South. Vol. Updated ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

The Pluralism Project “African Religion in America.” Harvard University. 2022

“This Far by Faith”. PBS. 2005. Accessed June 2022.

Young, Jason. “African Religions in the Early South,” Journal of Southern Religion 14 (2012):



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