Slavery

 

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    Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.
    1 Peter 2:18 (NIV)

     

     

     

     

    Biblical Underpinning for Slavery

    For many centuries slavery was perfectly acceptable to Christians. Christians had no doubt that it was divinely sanctioned, and they used a number of Old and New Testament quotations to prove their case. Looking at the relevant passages it is clear that the Bible does indeed endorse slavery. In the Old Testament God approved the practice and laid down rules for buyers and sellers (Exodus 21:1-11, Leviticus 25:44). Men are at liberty to sell their own daughters (Exodus 21:7). Slaves can be inherited (Leviticus 25:45-6). It is acceptable to beat slaves, since they are property — a master who beats his slave to death is not to be punished as long as the slave stays alive for a day or two, as the loss of the master's property is punishment enough:

    And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money. Exodus 21:20-211

    If a slave is gored by a bull, it is the master, not the slave, who is to be compensated (Exodus 21:32). Time and time again the Old Testament confirms that slaves are property and their lives are of little consequence. To prove the strength of Job's faith, God sends Satan to test him by visiting disasters upon him. Amongst these disasters is the killing of Job's numerous slaves (Job 1). Neither God, nor Satan, nor the story's narrator finds it at all odd that people should be killed just to prove a point: they are only Job's property and their destruction is naturally bracketed with the loss of his livestock and vineyards.

    The New Testament also regards slavery as acceptable. It instructs slaves to accept their position with humility (Ephesians 6:5-8) and to please their masters in everything (Titus 2:9, cf. Colossians 3:22). They are commanded to serve Christian slave owners better than other masters (1 Timothy 6:1-2) "so that the name of God and the teaching may not be defamed". Even oppressive masters are to be obeyed according to 1 Peter 2:18. Jesus himself mentioned slavery more than once according to the New Testament, but never with the slightest hint of criticism of it. He even glorified the master-slave relationship as a model of the relationship between God and humankind (Matthew 18:23ff and 25:14ff). Christians naturally interpreted this as not merely acceptance, but approval. If Jesus had opposed slavery he would, they claimed, surely have said so. .

     

    Early Christianity and Slavery

    In pre-Christian times and in non-Christian countries people expressed doubts about slavery and sought to improve the lot of slaves — the Stoic philosophers provide a notable example. In pagan times slaves who escaped and sought sanctuary at a holy temple would not be returned to their masters if they had a justifiable complaint. When the Empire became Christian, escaped slaves could seek refuge in a church, but they would always be returned to their masters, whether they had a justifiable complaint or not. When Christian slaves in the early Asian Church suggested that community funds might be used to purchase their freedom, they were soon disabused of their hopes, a line supported by one of the greatest Church Fathers (Ignatius of Antioch.). He declared that their ambition should be to become better slaves, and they should not expect the Church to gain their liberty for them2. His orthodox approach followed the words of St Paul: "Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. Were you a slave when you were called? Don't let it trouble you — although if you can gain your freedom, do so." (1 Corinthians 7:20-21 NIV).

    The Slave Market (c1882) by Gustave Boulanger (1824 – 1888)
    A Roman slave market - the older man sitting on the platform is the auctioneer.

     

    When the Roman Empire became Christian under the Emperor Constantine, the institution of slavery remained unaltered, except for superficial changes. For example, ceremonies of manumission were transferred from temples to Christian Churches, and places of sanctuary were restricted to Christian sites.

    Church Fathers instructed the faithful not to let slaves get above themselves, and the Church endorsed Saint Augustine's view that slavery was ordained by God as a punishment for sin3. Augustine called on the free to give thanks because Christ and his Church did not make slaves free, but rather made bad slaves into good slaves. St. Augustine teaching that the institution of slavery derives from God and is beneficial to both slaves and masters would be cited by many later Popes as evidence, indeed proof, of the acceptability of slavery. It was an integral part of the Christian "Tradition" one of the main sources of authority in the Church.

    In 362 AD a Church Council at Gangra in Asia Minor excommunicated anyone encouraging a slave to despise his master or to withdraw from his service. This would in time be incorporated into Church Law, where it would remain from the 13th to the 20th century.

    Soon the Church would become the largest slave owner in the Roman Empire. Bishops themselves owned slaves and accepted the usual conventions. So did other churchmen. Slave collars dating from around AD 500 have been found in Sardinia, stamped with the sign of the cross. One mentions the name "Felix the Archdeacon"4. "I am a slave of Felix the archdeacon: hold me lest I run away". Some 40 collars (or slave pendants) survive from antiquity, almost all of them from the fourth century, from Rome, Africa and Sardinia. Many of the collars feature Christian symbols such the chi-rho christogram or a Christian cross, showing that the slave owners were Christians. We know of other slave owning Christians in various ways, for example one, Ausonius ,recorded having tattooed his recaptured runaway slave on the forehead 5 (the significance seems to have been guilt about tattooing, because tattooing was banned by the bible)

    Pagan slaves who wanted to become Christians required permission from their masters. For many centuries, indeed right up to recent times, servile birth was a bar to Christian ordination, and the Church confirmed the acceptability of slavery in many other ways. The Christian Emperor Constantine (or possibly his predecessor Licinius) issued a law requiring slaves caught fleeing into barbarian territories to be sent to the mines, or to have a foot amputated6. This law was not rescinded by the string of Christian Emperors, who headed the Christian Church under the system of caesaropapalism. The Christian Roman Empire actively helped slave owners to recover fugitive slaves, and punished anyone giving them shelter. 7. Priests and bishops were required by Cannon Law to return to their masters any Christians seeking sanctuary in churches8. Even slaves who sought refuge in monasteries were to be returned.9. Ecclesiastical networks were employed in the identification and recovery of fugitive slaves.10. Saint Jerome was one who shopped a fugitive slave of one of his friends11

    Around 600, Pope Gregory the Great approved of forcing Jewish slaves to convert by "lashes and tortures"12. When he needed Anglian slaves he wrote to a Church official to procure them for him13. On another occasion he had slaves procured from Sardinia.14. In 650 Pope Martin I condemned anyone teaching slaves about freedom or encouraging them to escape their bonds.

     

    Slavery in Medieval Christendom

    A Church Council of Châlons in 813 decreed that slaves belonging to different owners could not marry without their owners' consent. It had been common for pagan Greeks and Romans to emancipate their slaves, but the emancipation of the Church's slaves was declared impossible, on the grounds that the slaves were owned not by the clergy but by God himself, and only the slave owner could legally dispose of his goods. Church slaves were thus inalienable property. (This principle would be enshrined in canon law in respect of monastic slaves under the Decretum gratiani c.1140.) Church law contained other provisions regulating the marriage of slaves15. Here are a few examples:

    To eject a slave girl from one's bed and take one free to become a wife does not produce a second marriage but advances decency. (Decretum gratiani, Case 32, q II, C11)

    It is lawful matrimony when a woman is given to a man with a concubine.
    Not every woman joined to a man is his wife, just as not every son is his father's heir. The bonds of marriage between free persons and between co-equals are lawful, and the Lord established them long before the beginnings of the Roman law. Thus, a wife is different from a concubine, just as the slave girl was different from the free woman [cf. Gal. 4:30]. (Decretum gratiani, Case 32, q II, C12)

    [on the question of who has the right to agree a marriage of the daughter of a slave if she has a free uncle, with reference to a specific case where the father was a slave of the church]: A girl should obey the decision of her free uncle concerning her marriage, not that of her slave father. The girl's father was clearly your church's slave, and her uncle was of free stock. We therefore decree that the choice of the niece's husband belongs to her uncle, rather than to her father, because his will is not free.
    Gratian: So this approves her marrying her uncle's choice, and clearly shows that she is lawfully joined. (Decretum gratiani, Case 32, q III, C1)

    Gratian: That one may seek children from a slave girl if one's wife is sterile, is shown by the example of Abraham [Gen. 16:2-3], who, because of his wife Sarai's sterility, went in to Hagar the Egyptian to have children from her. Also, Jacob [Gen. 30:1-5], when he could not have children from Rachel, raised them up from his slave girl. This was not merely because of her sterility, for one reads that he also went in to Leah's slave girl and sired children from her because of Leah's declining fertility. This indicates that, on account of a wife's sterility, one can lawfully seek children from a slave girl or some other woman. Otherwise, Abraham and Jacob would be guilty of adultery. (Decretum gratiani, Case 32, q IV, Part 1)

    Abraham, who had sons by a slave girl while his wife was alive, was not guilty of adultery. (Decretum gratiani, Case 32, q IV, C3)

    Children inherit their parents' status. They are free who issue from a free marriage. The children of a free man and a slave girl are of servile condition. Those born always follow the worse part. (Decretum gratiani, Case 32, q IV, C15)

    A slave manumitted on condition that he become a monk or serve a monastery should be compelled to obey the desire of the one manumitting, or should be returned to servility if he prefers that. (Decretals of Gregory IX, Book Four, Conditions Set in Betrothals or Other Contracts, C. 2.)

    If a free man has unknowingly contracted with a slave girl, and did not consent when he discovered this, the matrimony may be put asunder, and he can contract with another (Decretals of Gregory IX, Book Four, Title VIII, C. 4).16

    The Church found new reasons to take people into slavery. The Third Synod of Toledo in 589 decreed that women found in the houses of a clergyman in suspicious circumstances should be sold into slavery by the clergyman's bishop17. Another synod of 655 declared that priests' children should be treated as slaves — an idea ratified in 1022 at Pavia and around 1140 by the Decretum gratiani. In attempting to enforce clerical celibacy popes revived the idea of taking the wives and concubines of churchmen into slavery18. Leo IX (Pope 1049-1054) had priests' wives taken into slavery for service at the Lateran Palace19. At the Synod of Melfi, in 1089, Pope Urban II tried the idea against subdeacons' wives20. In 1095 wives of priests were sold into slavery — presumably the Lateran had a full complement of female slaves by then. Saints, popes and Church officials approved the practice of slavery for centuries. The Church's greatest scholastic authorities, such as Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus and Duns Scotus concurred. As Aquinas explained, a slave was merely an "inspired tool of his master" and a "non-member of society", just like any other beast of burden. Slaves were listed in inventories under "Church property". He defended slavery as having been instituted by God as punishment for sin. He justified it as being part of the 'right of nations' and of natural law. He confirmed the view that children of a slave mother become slaves even though they have not committed personal sin, a view cited and confirmed by later Popes.

    Popes sentenced millions to slavery, although the sentences could not always be carried out. The Third Lateran Council 1179 imposed slavery on those helping the Saracens. The same council also imposed slavery on anyone who opposed the papacy. The citizens of Venice were condemned to slavery in 1309, 1482, and again in 1506. The same thing happened to the whole of England in 1508. Papal galleys went on slave-hunting expeditions along the coast of Africa.

    In 1226 the legitimacy of slavery was confirmed in the Corpus Iuris Canonici, promulgated by Pope Gregory IX. This would remain part of Church the law until 1913. Canon lawyers worked out four "just titles" for holding slaves:

    • slaves captured in war,
    • persons condemned to slavery for a crime;
    • persons selling themselves into slavery, including a father selling his child;
    • children of a mother who is a slave.

    Slavery was a major trade in Christendom. Until the early tenth century the main Venetian export was slaves from central Europe. The English word Slav is derived from the Middle English word sclave, borrowed from Medieval Latin sclavus meaning slave - a reminder of the European Christian slave trade of the day in central Europe. This was not the only Christian slave trade in Christendom. During the Crusades a large Mediterranean slave trade was concentrated in Christian hands — the hands of the military monks and men like Pelius, a papal legate. Later the Genoese developed another major Mediterranean slave trade21.

     

    The Portuguese Slave Trade

    Pope Nicholas V issued the papal bull Dum diversas on 18 June, 1452. It authorised King Alfonso V of Portugal to reduce any "Saracens (Muslims) and pagans and any other unbelievers to perpetual slavery. He issued another bull Romanus pontifex on January 5, 1455 also addressed to King Alfonso. It extended dominion over newly discovered lands to the Catholic nations of Europe. It sanctified the seizure of non-Christian lands, and encouraged the enslavement of native, non-Christian peoples throughout the World:

    We, weighing all and singular the premises with due meditation, and noting that since we had formerly by other letters of ours granted among other things free and ample faculty to the aforesaid King Alfonso -- to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to apply and appropriate to himself and his successors the kingdoms, dukedoms, counties, principalities, dominions, possessions, and goods, and to convert them to his and their use and profit -- by having secured the said faculty, the said King Alfonso, or, by his authority, the aforesaid infante, justly and lawfully has acquired and possessed, and doth possess, these islands, lands, harbors, and seas, and they do of right belong and pertain to the said King Alfonso and his successors.

    Slaves being brought to Brazil in a Portuguese Caravel

    Benedictine monks still owned slaves in Brazil as late as 1864, around the same time that clergymen in the southern states of the USA were obliged to give up their slaves.

     

    Spanish Slavery

    The Spanish Inquisition were keen slavers. A single inquisitor, Torquemada, had 97,371 people condemned to slavery. The practice was not restricted to mainland Spain. Spain also ruled an empire. Pope Nicholas V, in his bull Romanus pontifex of 1455, had given his blessing to the enslavement of conquered native people, by Catholics, whether Portuguese or Spanish.

    In 1493 (the year after Columbus discovered the America) Pope Alexander VI made explicit the rights of Catholics in the Americas. He authorised the King of Spain to enslave non-Christians of the Americas at war with Catholic powers - in other words anyone who resisted the invasion and seizure of their land.

    Like other bishops, the popes themselves owned slaves — Pope Innocent VIII accepted the gift of numerous slaves from Malaga, given by the exceptionally devout Queen Isabella of Castile in 1487.

    To clear up any doubt about who was entitled to own slaves, Pope Paul III confirmed in 1548 that all Christian men and all members of the clergy had the right to own slaves.

     

    The British Slave Trade

    Originally the Jesus of Lubeck, usually known after King Henry VIII bought it as the Jesus, and now commonly referred to as The Good Ship JesusThe record of the Anglican Church was no better than that of the Roman Church. It was the universal opinion of churchmen that God had ordained slavery, and clergymen had no qualms about owning slaves themselves. Anglican slave traders were often extremely devout, and widely respected by their fellow Christians. It never occurred to them, or to their priests or ministers, that slave trading might be immoral. The most famous English slave trader, Sir John Hawkins, named his slave ships Angel, Jesus and Grace of God.

    Hawkin's crest on his acheivement of arms is a bound slaveHawkins, a cousin of Sir Francis Drake, had been granted permission from Queen Elizabeth for his first voyage in 1562. He was allowed to carry Africans to the Americas "with their own free consent". He agreed to this condition, and set sail in the Jesus, a ship lent by the Queen, which her father had bought as Jesus of Lubeck from the Hanseatic League.

    Hawkins had a reputation for being a religious man who required his crew to "serve God daily". Sir Francis Drake, who accompanied Hawkins, was also devoutly religious. Services were held on board twice a day. Hawkins sold most of the slaves in what is now the Dominican Republic. He came home with ships laden with ivory, hides, and sugar. Queen Elizabeth, livid that slaves had been acquired without their free consent, assailed Hawkins for his detestable behaviour, but soon changed her opinion. When she learned of the profits, the devout Elizabeth joined in partnership with Hawkins to organise fresh expeditions. So began the British slave trade. Hawkins was granted a coat of arms with a crest consisting of a slave ("a bound negro issuant proper.")

    Packing slaves onto a deck of a slave ship called The Brookes..
    The iconic Brookes print, designed in Plymouth, UK, in 1788 depicted the conditions on board the slave ship The image portrayed slaves arranged in accordance with the Regulated Slave Trade Act of 1788. The Brookes was reportedly allowed to stow 454 African slaves, by allowing a space of 6 feet (1.8 m) by 1 foot 4 inches (0.41 m) to each man; 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) by 1 foot 4 inches (0.41 m) to each women, and 5 feet (1.5 m) by 1 foot 2 inches (0.36 m) to each child.

    Churchmen owned slaves and were not particularly notable as good masters. Indeed some of the worst masters were clergymen. In the court of St Ann's in Jamaica in 1829, the Rev. G. W. Bridges was charged with maltreating a female slave. For a trivial mistake he had stripped her, tied her by the hands to the ceiling so that her toes hardly touched the ground, then flogged her with a bamboo rod until she was a "mass of lacerated flesh and gore" from her shoulders to her calves. Cases like this rarely came to court, but when they did they generally ended in acquital, as in this case, so the Reverend gentleman walked free.

    The Reverend Richard Fuller summed up the Church's position in 1845: “What God sanctioned in the Old Testament, and permitted in the New, cannot be a sin”22.

    Enslaved men, women and children

    Only one Christian leader of any note was opposed to slavery, John Wesley. Here are a few of his observations on slaves and their treatment.

    As to the punishments inflicted on them, says Sir Hans Sloan, "They frequently geld them, or chop off half a foot: After they are whipped till they are raw all over, some put pepper and salt upon them: Some drop melted wax upon their skin. Others cut off their ears, and constrain them to broil and eat them. "For Rebellion," (that is, asserting their native Liberty, which they have as much right to as the air they breathe) "they fasten them down to the ground with crooked sticks on every limb, and then applying fire by degrees, to the feet and hands, they burn them gradually upward to the head."

    (John Wesley: Tracts and Letters on Various Subjects, New York, 1827, vol X, p496-7)

    And again, an account of Christian sadism:

    The author of the history of Jamaica, wrote about the year 1740, in his account of the sufferings of the negroes, says, The people of that island have indeed the severest ways of punishing; no country exceeds them in a barbarous treatment of their slaves, or in the cruel methods by which they are put to death. After confirming what is before said he adds, "They starve them to death, with a loaf hanging over their mouths. I have seen these unfortunate wretches gnaw the flesh off their shoulders, and expire in all the frightful agonies of one under the most horrible tortures. He adds, I incline to touch the hardship which these poor creatures suffer in the tenderest manner, from a particular regard which I have to many of their masters; but I cannot conceal their sad circumstances entirely: the most trivial error is punished with terrible whipping. I have seen some of them treated in that cruel manner, for no other reason but to satisfy the brutish pleasure of an overseer, who has their punishment mostly at his discretion. I have seen their bodies all in a gore of blood, the skin torn off their backs with the cruel whip, beaten pepper and salt rubbed in the wounds, and a large slick of sealing-wax dropped leisurely upon them. It is no wonder, (adds this author) if the horrid pain of such inhuman tortures incline them to rebel."

    (John Wesley, A. M., Thoughts Upon Slavery, London: Re-printed in Philadelphia, with notes, and sold by Joseph Crookshank, 1778, p 25)

     

    On the Law of Barbados, which imposed a light penalty for killing a slave:

    .... "If any negro under punishment, by his master, or his order, for running away, or any other crime or misdemeanor, shall suffer in life or member, no person whatever shall be liable to any fine therefore. But if any man of WANTONNESS, or only of BLOODY-MINDEDNESS OR CRUEL INTENTION, wilfully kill a Negro of his own" (Now observe the severe punishment!) "He shall pay into the public treasury fifteen pounds sterling! And not be liable to any other punishment or forfeiture for the same!"

    (John Wesley, A. M., Thoughts Upon Slavery, London: Re-printed in Philadelphia, with notes, and sold by Joseph Crookshank, 1778, p 32)

    Detail of the above. This man has his hands tied behind his back, and is hanging from a gibbet by a metal hook, hooked around a single rib.

     

    In Jamaica the killing of a slave appears to have been unremarkable:

    Another instance fell under the immediate notice of a person of credit, when in the island of Jamaica, now residing in this city. Hearing a grievous cry, he went to the place from whence it came, where he saw a young Negro woman of about eighteen years of age, swung by her hands, with heavy weights at her feet, and a man lashing her naked body with a hard whip; making pauses from time to time, and flinging pickle or salt and water on the wounds, the whip had made. The sight was so horrible, that he turned from it and came home. Sometime after, looking out, he saw this same young woman carried dead on a board: She had been cruelly whipped to death; neither did he observe that this pitious spectacle drew the concern or hardly attention of the people.

    (John Wesley, A. M., Thoughts Upon Slavery, London: Re-printed in Philadelphia, with notes, and sold by Joseph Crookshank, 1778, p 72)

    Wesley's views on slavery were not shared by his fellow Methodists - as this cartoon of 1844 points out, slave holders had been permitted to be members of God's Church since apostolic times, and abolitionists were servants of the Devil.

    Two vocal Methodists abolitionists, Laroy Sunderland and Orange Scott, had faced such opposition from their coreligionists, that they left the Methodist Episcopal (ME) Church and helped organize the Wesleyan Methodist Church in 1843.

    1792 British cartoon by Isaac Cruikshank representing a true event, in which Captain John Kimber had a 15 year old captive suspended, whipped, and tortured, causing her death, for her 'virgin modesty.' Kimber was tried for this and for the murder of another captive, but was 'honorably acquitted.'

     

    While Thomas Paine opposed slavery in America, his fellow freethinkers opposed it in his native country. Granville Sharp, a British humanitarian lawyer, sought to bring cases before the courts, arguing that throwing slaves overboard to drown was murder. (The prevailing Christian view was that a ship's captain was free to jettison them, just like any other property23.) Within a few years, by 1787, a campaign to abolish the Atlantic slave trade was started by a group of Quakers24. It was supported by non-believers. As the movement grew, various nonconformist groups and some evangelical Christians joined it, but all traditional Churches and mainstream Christian sects consistently opposed it.

    William Wilberforce is usually accredited with abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire, although he came many years after the first abolitionist campaigners. He too was an unbeliever when he espoused abolition. Later as an evangelical he was able to sit in Parliament (which unbelievers were not). There he stood out amongst his fellow Christians as an exception. He noted that those who opposed slavery were nonconformists and godless reformers, and that Church people were indifferent to the cause of abolition, or else actively obstructed it. His support came from Quakers, Utilitarians and assorted freethinkers. Like the freethinkers who had started the movement, he was condemned by the mainstream Churches as presuming to know better than the Bible. His successor, Sir Thomas Buxton, was another maverick, an evangelical with Quaker sympathies.

    The Church had enjoyed 1,500 years during which it had had the power to ban slavery but had failed to do so, or even to have expressed any desire to do so. (The Anglican Church's missionary organisation, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, had been branding its slaves on the chest with the word SOCIETY to show who owned them.

    Now that reform was in the air, the mainstream churches opposed it with all their power. They vilified reformers (including Wilberforce) and attacked them for daring to question the plain word of God. Anglican clergymen still owned slaves and continued to oppose abolition well into the nineteenth century. One of their number was the most effective supporter of slavery during the 1820s abolitionist campaign in Jamaica25. All mainstream Churches agreed with the traditional view that slavery was ordained by God. To practice slavery was therefore meritorious, and to try to stop the practice was sinful. With the exception of Quakers, and John Wesley, all denominations agreed.

    The two hundredth anniversary of the abolition of the British slave trade was commemorated in 2007

    In 1807 Britain became the first major power to permanently abolish the slave trade, but slave owning was still legal in the colonies. When the British parliament voted to abolish slavery in the colonies in 1833, the Bench of Bishops voted against — as they did on almost all reform bills. To get the bill through, Parliament voted to compensate slave owners (There was no compensation for the slaves themselves). The Abolition of Slavery Act of 1833 provided for £20 million to be paid to West Indian plantation slave owners in compensation for the loss of their 'property'. The Anglican Church received £8,823 8s 9d, for the loss of slave labour on its Codrington plantation in Barbados. Individual Churchmen had to be compensated separately. Henry Phillpotts, Bishop of Exeter, and three business associates received nearly £13,00026.

    Compensation recorded in the British Parliamentary Papers 1836 (597) vol. 49.
    (The total actually comes to £12,729 5s 2d)

    The Bishop, the Right Rev Henry Philpotts, together with three partners received:
    £4,836 4sh 7d for 236 slaves in the parish of Vere, Middlesex County, Jamaica.
    £5,480 13sh lid for 304 slaves in the parish of Clarendon, Mdx, Jamaica.
    £2, 412 6sh 8d for slaves also in the parish of Clarendon.
    Total of £12,729 4sh 4d for 665 slaves.

     

     
     

     

     

     

    French Slavery in the New World - The Code Noire

    The Code Noir (The Black Code) sets out French slave policy regarding the Islands of French America. The Code initially took the form of King Louis XIV's edict of 1685. Subsequent decrees modified a few of the code's provisions, but this first document established the principles for the policing of slavery up to 1789. The code set out a number of rights and responsibilities, mainly concerning slavery but also mentioning Jews.

    The Code Noire

    Below are some notable highlights. It lays great emphasis on the Roman Catholic religion. For the full text click on the following link to the Code Noire.

    … reports inform us of [our officer's] need for our authority and our justice in order to maintain the discipline of the Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith in the islands. Our authority is also required to settle issues dealing with the condition and quality of the slaves in said islands.

    Article I. … we enjoin all of our officers to chase from our islands all the Jews who have established residence there. As with all declared enemies of Christianity, we command them to be gone within three months of the day of issuance of the present [order], at the risk of confiscation of their persons and their goods.

    ...

    Article III. We forbid any religion other than the Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith from being practiced in public. We desire that offenders be punished as rebels disobedient of our orders. We forbid any gathering to that end, which we declare to be conventicle, illegal, and seditious, and subject to the same punishment as would be applicable to the masters who permit it or accept it from their slaves.

    Article IV. No persons assigned to positions of authority over Negroes shall be other than a member of the Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith…

    Article V. We forbid our subjects who belong to the so-called "reformed" religion from causing any trouble or unforeseen difficulties for our other subjects or even for their own slaves in the free exercise of the Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith, at the risk of exemplary punishment.

    Article VIII. We declare that our subjects who are not of the Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith, are incapable of contracting a valid marriage in the future. We declare any child born from such unions to be bastards, and we desire that said marriages be held and reputed, and to hold and repute, as actual concubinage.

    Article XI. We forbid priests from conducting weddings between slaves if it appears that they do not have their masters' permission. We also forbid masters from using any constraints on their slaves to marry them without their wishes.

    Article XII. Children born from marriages between slaves shall be slaves, and if the husband and wife have different masters, they shall belong to the masters of the female slave, not to the master of her husband.

    Article XVI. We also forbid slaves who belong to different masters from gathering, either during the day or at night, under the pretext of a wedding or other excuse, either at one of the master's houses or elsewhere, and especially not in major roads or isolated locations. They shall risk corporal punishment that shall not be less than the whip and the fleur de lys, and for frequent recidivists and in other aggravating circumstances, they may be punished with death, a decision we leave to their judge. ..

    Article XXXI. Slaves shall not be a party, either in court or in a civil matter, either as a litigant or as a defendant, or as a civil party in a criminal matter…

    Article XXXVIII. The fugitive slave who has been on the run for one month from the day his master reported him to the police, shall have his ears cut off and shall be branded with a fleur de lys on one shoulder. If he commits the same infraction for another month, again counting from the day he is reported, he shall have his hamstring cut and be branded with a fleur de lys on the other shoulder. The third time, he shall be put to death.

    Article XLII. The masters may also, when they believe that their slaves so deserve, chain them and have them beaten with rods or straps…

    Article XLIV. We declare slaves to be charges, and as such enter into community property. They are not to be mortgaged, and shall be shared equally between the co-inheritors without benefit to the wife or one particular inheritor...

     

    Slavery in North America

    Slaves in the US were mere property, even in so-called free states, as confirmed in the case of Dred Scott v. Sanford (60 U.S. 393 (1857)). A slave named Dred Scott tried to sue his master, Dr. John Emerson, a surgeon in the US Army, for his freedom and that of his wife and their two daughters, on the grounds that they had moved to free states and that the slave family, was therefore free. The United States Supreme Court decided by 7–2 against Scott, finding that neither he nor any other person of African ancestry could claim citizenship in the United States, and therefore could not bring suit in federal court under diversity of citizenship rules. The Court held that Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories because slaves are personal property and the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution protected property owners against deprivation of their property without due process of law. According to Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, the authors of the Constitution had viewed all blacks as "beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect"

    Virginia Statutes: ACT XII (1662)
    That the children of slave women were always slaves themselves
    was a principle of Church Law, that had been carried over into Civil Law before the Revolution
    ( Under English common law, the father’s status determined his children’s status)

    Negro women's children to serve according to the condition of the mother

    Whereas some doubts have arisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a negro woman should be slave or free, Be it therefore enacted and declared by this present grand assembly, that all children borne in this country shall be held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother, and that if any Christian shall commit fornication with a negro man or woman, he or she so offending shall pay double the fines imposed by the former act.

     

    Slave Advertisement, Charleston, South Carolina, 1780s
    Slaves were regarded like livestock - healthy specimens commanded higher prices.

     

    Since they were merely property, there could be no objection to branding slaves just like any other animal. Neither was there any obligation to treat them more humanely than animals in other ways. Their prices depended on supply and demand like any other commodity. Female breeders would be sold at premium prices after the importation of African slaves to North America and the Caribbean ceased. Sometimes slaves were hamstrung to stop them escaping. If they had escaped before, they could have a leg amputated to stop them doing so again. Once their working lives were over, they were put down27. Black slaves in the Caribbean and Americas received little education, but what they were allowed was mainly religious. Preachers tended to concentrate on biblical passages, such as those already quoted that endorsed slavery and counselled passive acceptance of it. Surviving texts show that among missionaries, the problem of preventing slaves from enjoying themselves on the Sabbath was more important than the question of slavery itself28.

    Here is John Wesley on the Law in Virginia. (Note that the officials responsible for dealing with escaped slaves are not state officials, but Church officials):

    The law of Virginia ordains, "That no slave shall be set free, under any pretence whatever, except for some meritorious services, to be adjudged and allowed by the governor and council: And that where any slave shall be set free by his owner, otherwise than is herein directed, the church-wardens of the parish wherein such Negro shall reside for the space of one month are hereby authorized and required, to take up and sell the said Negro, by public outcry."

    And Wesley on the law of Virginia allowing any method of torturing to death slaves who ran away from their owners:

    "After proclamation is issued against slaves that run away, it is lawful for any person whatsoever to KILL AND DESTROY such slaves, by SUCH WAYS AND MEANS AS HE SHALL THINK FIT.

    We have seen already some of the ways and means which have been thought fit on such occasions. And many more might be mentioned. One gentleman, when I was abroad thought fit to roast his slave alive!

     

    A slave auction

     

    Tellingly, the pro-slavery Confederacy adopted the motto “Deo Vindice”, (“God On Our Side”). Here are just a few of the many documents (still available on the internet) where nineteenth century Christians argue for slavery in the USA and against the abolitionist arguments of "infidels" - ie secularists

    • A Defense of Southern Slavery by a Southern Clergyman - 1851
    • Bible Defense of Slavery by Rev. Josiah A.M. 1852
    • An Essay on the Origin, Habits of the African Race by John Jacobus Flournoy 1835 (Expounds on the "Curse of Cain")
    • Cotton is King and Pro-Slavery Arguments by E.N. Elliot LLD, 1860, over 900 pages
    • Slavery as Recognized in the Mosaic Civil Law by Rev. Stuart Robinson
    • Bible Servitude Re-Examined, with Special Reference to Pro-Slavery Interpretations and Infidel Objections by Rev. Reuben Hatch 1862
    • Slavery Sanctioned by the Bible - A Tract for Northern Christians 1861
    • The American Churches the Bulwarks of American Slavery by James Gillespie Birney 1885
    • The Pro-slavery Argument, as Maintained by the Most Distinguished Writers by William Harper, William Gilmore Simms, James Henry Hammond, Thomas Roderick Dew 1852
    • Religion and Slavery by Rev. James McNeilly, D.D. (Presbyterian Minister) 1911
    • The Right of American Slavery by True Worthy Hoit 1815
    • The Christian Doctrine of Slavery by George Armstron 1857
    • Does Slavery Christianize the Negro? by Thomas Wentworth Higginson 1855
    • Slavery Ordained by God by Rev. Fred. A. Ross, D.D.
    • Review of Bishop Hopkins' Bible view of slavery by JP Lundy 1863
    • Slavery Examined in the Light of the Bible by Lee Luther 1855
    • Bible Vindicated: A Series of Essays on American Slavery by Jonas Hartzel 1858
    • The Interest in Slavery of the Southern non-slave-holder. The Right of Peaceful Secession. Slavery in the Bible by JDB De Bow 1860
    • The Bible and Slavery - A Brief Examination of the Old and New Testaments on Servitude 1867
    • Southern Slavery and the Bible - A Scriptural refutation of the principal arguments upon which the abolitionists rely. A vindication of southern slavery from the Old and New Testaments by EW Warren 1864
    • Bible Slaveholding not Sinful by HD Ganse 1856 (poor quality)
    • Scriptural Researches on the Licitness of the Slave-trade by R Harris 1788
    • White Supremacy and Negro Subordination; Or, Negroes a Subordinate Race, by John H. Van Evrie 1870

    Dr. Cartwright discovered an illness ("Drapetomania") peculiar to "negroes", which caused them to run away from their slave masters if the masters were too harsh or too kind. You can read the full text hereaaa., or an extract below.

    Extract from "Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race," by Dr. Cartwright
    De Bow's Review, Southern and Western States
    Volume XI, New Orleans, 1851, AMS Press, Inc. New York, 1967

     

    If the white man attempts to oppose the Deity's will, by trying to make the negro anything else than "the submissive knee-bender," (which the Almighty declared he should be,) by trying to raise him to a level with himself, or by putting himself on an equality with the negro; or if he abuses the power which God has given him over his fellow-man, by being cruel to him, or punishing him in anger, or by neglecting to protect him from the wanton abuses of his fellow-servants and all others, or by denying him the usual comforts and necessaries of life, the negro will run away; but if he keeps him in the position that we learn from the Scriptures he was intended to occupy, that is, the position of submission; and if his master or overseer be kind and gracious in his hearing towards him, without condescension, and at the same time ministers to his physical wants, and protects him from abuses, the negro is spell-bound, and cannot run away.

     

     

     

    Escaped slaves in the US were hunted down by professional hunters using dogs.

     

    And here are a few interesting quotes, first from Rev. R. Furman, D.D., Baptist, of South Carolina:

    The right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example.

    James Henley Thornwell was an advocate of slavery. On May 26, 1850 he said the following, in The Rights and the Duties of Masters, A Sermon Preached at the Dedication of a Church Erected in Charleston, S.C.,for the Benefit and Instruction of the Coloured Population:

    The parties in this conflict are not merely abolitionists and slaveholders—they are atheists, socialists, communists, red republicans, jacobins, on one side, and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is the battle ground—Christianity and Atheism the combatants; and the progress of humanity at stake.

    Bishop Meade, an Episcopal clergyman of Virginia, cited in American Slavery and Colour by William Chambers 1857, pointed out that a slave aught to regard his master as God himself:

    Having thus shewn you the chief duties you owe to your great Master in heaven, I now come to lay before you the duties you owe to your masters and mistresses here upon earth. And for this you have one general rule, that you ought always to carry in your minds, and that is, to do all service for them as if you did it for God himself. Poor creatures! you little consider when you are idle and neglectful of your masters' business; when you steal, and waste, and hurt any of their substance; when you are saucy and impudent; when you are telling them lies and deceiving them; or when you prove stubborn and sullen, and will not do the work you are set about without stripes and vexation-you do not consider, I say, that what faults you are guilty of towards your masters and mistresses, are faults done against God himself, who hath set your masters and mistresses over you in His own stead, and expects that you will do for them just as you would do for Him. And pray do not think that I want to deceive you when I tell you that your masters and mistresses are God's overseers, and that, if you are faulty towards them, God himself will punish you severely for it in the next world, unless you repent of it, and strive to make amends by your faithfulness and diligence for the time to come..."

    And Baptists:

    "…the right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example… Had the holding of slaves been a moral evil, it cannot be supposed that the inspired Apostles … would have tolerated it for a moment in the Christian Church. In proving this subject justifiable by Scriptural authority [Luke 12:47], its morality is also proved; for the Divine Law never sanctions immoral actions."
    Richard Furman, Baptist State Convention, letter to South Carolina Governor, 1822

    Important questions for the Church were the extent of slave owners' rights to flog or burn their human property, to split up their families, and to demand sexual gratification from them29. This last must have been a particular problem, since owners could point to several biblical passages that take it for granted that a slave girl is available for her master's sexual desires. This was clearly difficult to square with the knowledge that sex was sinful. The harm that was done to the slaves themselves was not considered, although its effects were so severe that they live on today. In the Americas it has left a legacy of bitterness, hatred and social disruption30 that is likely to endure well into the third millennium.

    An auction of slave women and their babies

    Slavery was not confined to selected races or to members of other religions: Christians routinely condemned their fellow believers to slavery. John Knox for example spent 18 months as a galley-slave under French Catholics. Cotton Mather, a Puritan clergyman best known for his part in the infamous Salem Witch Trials, plotted the enslavement of William Penn and his fellow Quakers in 168231. In the late eighteenth century popes still held slaves, as did Anglican clergymen. It was still beyond question that slavery was ordained by God and therefore unimpeachable.

    This advertisement was placed in the Colored Tennessean newspaper
    in Nashville, Tennessee on October 7, 1865
    It is a equest for information by Thornton Copeland who had been separated from his mother, he and his mother having been sold to different slave masters some twently years earlier.
    (It was, incidentally, normal practice for slaves to adopt the surname of their masters)

     

    In the second part of The Age of Reason, published in 1795, Thomas Paine noted that in the book of Numbers Moses had given instructions as to how to treat Midianite captives. Essentially, everyone was to be executed except virgins, whom the victors were allowed to keep alive for themselves. God then gave instructions as to how the booty, including 32,000 virgins, should be divided up between the victors. Paine summarised the relevant passage: "Here is an order to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers, and debauch the daughters"32. In response to this, Bishop Watson of Llandaff pointed out that the virgins had not been spared for any immoral purpose, as Paine had wickedly suggested. Rather, he said, they were spared so that they could be taken into slavery. Obviously, there could be no ethical objection to this, since slavery was divinely sanctioned. The bishop's rebuttal was perfectly acceptable to mainstream Christians, who found sex objectionable but slavery not at all objectionable. According to the Churches, slavery was not merely permitted, it was obligatory. Slavery was a God-given institution. To oppose what God had sanctioned was positively sinful.

    A popular publication - still available

    A Plan of National Colonization, advocating the removal of free Blacks, by Rev. W. S. BR0WN, M. D.

    In America opposition to slavery was first voiced by freethinkers such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine. Initially a Quaker, later a deist, Paine was widely condemned as an unbeliever. He wrote an influential article against slavery in 1775, and when he drafted the American Declaration of Independence the following year, he included a clause against slavery that was later struck out33. Under Quaker influence, slavery was made illegal in the state of Pennsylvania in 1780. Other campaigners included the rationalist James Russell Lowell, the sceptical ex-preacher Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the freethinker Wendell Phillips. Abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and John Brown had shifted away from traditional Christianity after reading Thomas Paine.

    Here, opposition to slavery is accurately characterised as atheistic and godless

    "God is introduced to give dignity and emphasis ... and then He is banished. It was this very atheistic Declaration [of Independence] which had inspired the 'higher law' doctrine of the radical antislavery men. If the mischievous abolitionists had only followed the Bible instead of the godless Declaration, they would have been bound to acknowledge that human bondage was divinely ordained. The mission of southerners was therefore clear; they must defend the word of God against abolitionist infidels."
    Thomas Smyth, minister of 2nd Presbyterian Church of Charleston, S.C. 11/21/1861

    Slave Coffle, Near Paris, Kentucky, 1850s

    Elsewhere Churches held out longer. Clergymen advocated slavery and opposed abolitionist "infidels" on the traditional Christian grounds that slavery was required by God. Here is the Rev William S Plummer, DD of Richmond:

    "... Lastly.- Abolitionists are like infidels, wholly unaddicted to martyrdom for opinion's sake. Let them understand that they will be caught if they come among us, and they will take good heed to keep out of our way. There is not one man among them who has any more idea of shedding his blood in this cause, than he has of making war on the Grand Turk." (http://utc.iath.virginia.edu/christn/chesjgbat.html)

    According to Christian tradition, Blacks were inherently inferior, a consequence of their descent from a biblical character called Ham, which accounted for both their colour and their inferior status. Here is one of thousands of statements of the Christian position, from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, edited by the Christian gentleman himself in 1866 (He was a United States Senator):

    The doom of Ham has been branded on the form and features of his African descendants. The hand of fate has united his color and destiny. Man cannot separate what God hath joined.

    The Rev. J. C. Postell, in July, 1836, delivered an address at a public meeting at Orangeburgh Court-house, S. C., in which he maintains; 1. That slavery is a judicial visitation. 2. That it is not a moral evil. 3. That it is supported by the Bible. He thus argues his second point:-

    It is not a moral evil. The fact that slavery is of Divine appointment, would be proof enough with the Christian, that it could not be a moral evil. But when we view the hordes of savage marauders and human cannibals enslaved to lust and passion, and abandoned to idolatry and ignorance, to revolutionise them from such a state, and enslave them where they may have the gospel, and the privileges of Christians; so far from being a moral evil, it is a merciful visitation. If slavery was either the invention of man or a moral evil, it is logical to conclude, the power to create has the power to destroy. Why then has it existed? And why does it now exist amidst all the power of legislation in state and church, and the clamor of abolitionists? It is the Lord's DOINGS AND MARVELLOUS IN OUR EYES: and had it not been done for the best, God alone, who is able, long since would have overruled it. IT IS BY DIVINE APPOINTMENT." (http://utc.iath.virginia.edu/christn/chesjgbat.html)

    The Catholic and Anglican Churches were not alone. In 1843 some 1,200 Methodist ministers owned slaves in the USA. Under popular pressure generated by secular thinkers, all of the mainstream Churches (except the Southern Baptists) performed a volte-face during the nineteenth century. When enough of their members had moved over to the abolitionist cause, the Churches followed. God had always condoned, sanctioned and even demanded the practice of slavery, but slavery was no longer acceptable. God must have changed his mind. Priests, bishops and popes felt obliged to cease owning slaves. Slavery was criticised for the first time by a pope (Gregory XVI) in 1839, but it was still permissable after its abolition in the USA:

    "Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons.... It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given." (20 June 1866 decision (No. 1293) of the Holy Office (cited in Bokenkotter's A Concise History of the Catholic Church and by J. F. Maxwell in “The Development of Catholic Doctrine Concerning Slavery,” World Jurist 11 (1969–70): 306–7))

    It was not until the Berlin Conference of 1884 that Roman Catholic countries started to fall into line with Protestant ones on the question of slavery, agreeing that it should be suppressed. In 1888 Pope Leo XIII declared in In plurimis that the Church was now opposed to it - though Church Law on the topic remained unchanged.

    In the USA the pattern was similar: nineteenth century churchmen advocated slavery, though secular forces opposed it. It was a commonplace that "Slavery is of God". Christian ministers wrote almost half of all defences of slavery published in America. The Churches routinely produced such defences. Along with these defences, Christian Churches circulated biblical texts on the subject of Negro inferiority, and the need for total unquestioning obedience. A civil war was fought before the Christian South was forced to abandon slavery in 1863. Yet the Southern Presbyterian Church could still resolve in 1864 that it was their peculiar mission to conserve the institution of slavery, and to make it a blessing to both master and slave.

     

    Frederick Douglass on Slavery and Christianity

    Black slaves were generally not permitted to learn to read or write, since education was seen as a threat to God's natural order. An American slave who adopted the name Frederick Douglass was exceptional in that he learned to read and write in secret. After he was granted his freedom he campaigned against slavery and wrote about his life. His writings are of particular interest, not only because of his personal experience, but also because of his lucid style. He stood as a living confutation to slaveholders' arguments that slaves did not have the intellectual capacity to function as a citizen. An outstanding orator, he became a leader of the abolitionist movement. Although a Christian believer himself, his testimony against mainstream Christians is excoriating. Here it is in a nutshell.

    Were I to be again reduced to chains of slavery, next to that enslavement, I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me.... [I] hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-stripping, cradle plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land34.

    And here it is, in more detail:

    . . . I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood-clotted cow skin (whip) during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. The man who robs me of my earnings at the end of each week meets me as a class-leader on Sunday morning, to show me the way of life, and the path of salvation. He who sells my sister, for purposes of prostitution, stands forth as the pious advocate of purity. He who proclaims it a religious duty to read the Bible denies me the right of learning to read the name of the God who made me. He who is the religious advocate of marriage robs whole millions (of slaves) of its sacred influence, and leaves them to the ravages of wholesale (moral) pollution. The warm defender of the sacredness of the family relation is the same that scatters whole families, - sundering husbands and wives, parents and children, sisters and brothers, leaving the hut vacant, and the hearth desolate. We see the thief preaching against theft, and the adulterer against adultery. We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen! all for the glory of God and the good of souls! The slave auctioneer's bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies and souls of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his infernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other-devils dressed in angels' robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise."

    I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the South is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes - a justifier of the most appalling barbarity, a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds, and a dark shelter under which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slave holders find the strongest protection. Were I to be again reduced to the chains of slavery, next to that enslavement, I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me... I... hate the corrupt, slave holding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land."

    And he said this - indicating that slave owners who become Christians actually became worse masters:

    ... and when you tell me that there are some Christian slave-holders in the States, I tell you, as well might you talk of sober-drunkards. Just as if the lash in the hands of a Christian is not as injurious to my back as it would be in the hands of a wicked man. As far as my experience goes, I would rather suffer under the hands of the latter, and, I tell you, as I have mentioned in my narrative, that next to being a slave, there is no greater calamity than being the slave of a Christian slave holder. I say this from my own experience .... Some persons have taken offence at my saying that Slaveholders become worse after their conversion.

    As Douglass pointed out in the same speech, in his time all Southern Baptists were in favour of slavery, because any who espoused abolition were thrown out of the Church.

    I beg now to introduce to your notice a little of the doings of one or two of the Churches of America, and I shall begin with the Baptist Church. This Church is congregational in its organization and government, but its congregations are united by what is called a Triennial Convention, the object of which is to spread the Gospel among the heathen. At the last but one of these conventions, in the City of Baltimore, the Rev. Dr. Johnston, of South Carolina, presided, and he on this occasion asserted the doctrine that when any institution becomes established by law, a Christian man may innocently engage to uphold it. The President of the Baptist convention is a slaveholder himself. He is a man-stealer. The Secretary of the convention is another man-stealer, and most of the other office-bearers were manstealers — were thieves. During the progress of the business, there was one man in one of the committees, who was found to be an Abolitionist — Elon Galusha. This man is now, I trust, in Heaven. He dared to say that a slave was a man, and that slavery ought to be abolished. For this, the members of his church cut him off — though he was a man of talent and of unblemished character, and, as a minister of the gospel, unparalleled. Another great Baptist minister, the Rev. Lucius Bowles, congratulated his brethren that there was "a pleasing degree of unity among the Baptists through the land, for the southern brethren were all slave-holders.35.

    Here is another passage from the same speech concerning married slaves

    I have now to speak of them in the State of Virginia, where men regularly enter into the raising or breeding of slaves, as a business, just as cattle are raised for the Smithfield market; and where the marriage institution is set aside. In some cases it becomes the interest of the slave holder to separate two slaves (male and female) already married. When the question was proposed to the Baptist Society there, whether parties thus separated might marry again, the answer was, that this separation being tantamount to the civil death of either of the parties, to forbid the second marriage in either case, would be to expose to Church censure those who did so for disobedience. Here we find a deliberate setting aside of the Marriage Institution, and the deliberate sanction of a wholesale system of adultery and concubinage; and, yet the persons who authorise and enforce such wickedness calling themselves Christians!

     

    Abolition of Slavery

    Slave owning by Christians continued for centuries despite criticism from rationalists and freethinkers. The story now propagated by some Churches — that they were responsible for abolition — is simply false. The first country to abolish slavery, was France, under an anticlerical revolutionary government in the 1790s36. Opposition to slavery was developed by the very people that the Christian Churches regarded as their worst enemies: blaspheming philosophers, atheists, Deists and Quakers: men like Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin.

    Benjamin Franklins' Address to the Public, 1789
    promoting the abolition of slavery

     
     

    Abolition came in Britain in the early nineteenth century, in the teeth of fierce opposition from the Anglican Church, and it was achieved through the efforts of an alliance of unbelievers, freethinkers, Utilitarians, Quakers and fringe Christians who galvanised public opinion. In the USA it came in the second half of the century, again in the face of intense opposition from the Churches.

    The Unitarian Wedgwood family and the Darwin family family were closely related. (Charles Darwin was Josiah Wedgwood's Grandson). Both families included prominent abolitionists. This provided traditionalist Christians with a seam of humour - likening and making fun of the godless idea of regarding black people as brothers, and the godless Darwinian idea of regarding apes as cousins. One line of humour was to suggest that evolutionists should create a Gorilla Emancipation Society - making a parallel with the Slave Emancipation Society, another was to play on the motto of the Slave Emancipation Society: "Am I not a man and a brother". Wedgwood's medallions bearing the motto had become iconic - so famous that they probably accelerated abolition in the UK.

    A Jasper-ware cameo, designed and produced
    by Josiah Wedgwood, 1787

    Cartoon from Punch
    London 18 May 1851

     

    The abolitionists won largely because slavery was no longer financially viable. The alliance of Church and slave owners lost the battle in one country after another because of monetary considerations. Following traditional teachings, and unrestrained by Western economics or political correctness, Christians in Ethiopia are still making captured prisoners into slaves well into the twenty First century. The simple, if embarrassing, truth is that no Christian society has ever abolished slavery while the practice continued to be profitable.

    Even after the abolition of slavery, traditional slave punishments continued for many years.

    In 1995, the Southern Baptist Convention officially apologised for its earlier defense of slavery. The Church of England apologised for its part in 2006. In a debate held by the Church's governing body, before the vote Rev Simon Bessant described the Church's central role in the slave trade, saying: "We were at the heart of it." and "We were directly responsible for what happened. In the sense of inheriting our history, we can say we owned slaves, we branded slaves, that is why I believe we must actually recognise our history and offer an apology."37.

    The Catholic Church has moved its position slowly over the centuries. From as early as 1435 Popes have condemned "indiscriminate" slavery38. These statements are sometimes cited as evidence that the Church has long been opposed to slavery, but on the contrary it supported the practice of slavery into the twentieth century. In 1839 Pope Gregory XVI criticised the international Negro slave trade, but without condemning the institution of slavery or the practice of owning slaves. In 1866, the Holy Office in an instruction signed by Pope Pius IX declared:

    Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery, and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons … It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given".

    After the American Civil War, the Vatican was asked for an authoritative statement on slavery,following the adoption of the 13th amendment to the U. S. Constitution, which banned slavery. In an Instruction dated 20 June 1866 the "Holy Office", which rules on matters of faith and teaching, declared :

    "Slavery, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law. There can be several just titles of slavery and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons [of the Catholic Church]. It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given."

    Popes continued to own slaves until they lost control of the Papal States in the nineteenth century. In 1888, after all countries other than the Vatican State, had abandoned the practice of slavery, Pope Leo XIII condemned slavery in general terms. In 1918 a new Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope Benedictus XV condemned 'selling any person as a slave'. There was still no condemnation of slave owning, only of slave trading - so three of the four "just titles" still held. In Gaudium et spes, 1965, the Second Vatican Council finally gave up on slavery, denouncing all violations of human integrity. To date the Catholic Church has not apologised for it's part in any of the Slave Trades it established or participated in. In March 2000, Pope Jean Paul II, hinted at his Church's culpability asking unspecified people for forgiveness for unspecified crimes committed by unspecified Catholics against unspecified victims39.

    Slavery - still a charged issue in the USA

     

    There are still Christians prepared to uphold the traditional Christian line on slavery. In 1996 Charles Davidson, a devout Christian Senator from Alabama, said that slavery had been good for blacks, and pointed out that the practice had biblical approval, citing the traditional prooftexts such as Leviticus 25:44 and 1 Timothy 6:140.

    Many Christian books and websites seek to establish that Black slavery was fundamentally different from Roman slavery. According to them, Roman slavery was a much more benign system, and this was the system referred to in the Bible. The argument is flawed in two ways. First, the rules applied to Black slavery, and Christian justification for it, were based on the Old Testament, which regulated the rules for Jews, not Romans. Rules about slave owning were similar across many ancient societies, so apologists sometimes try to regard them as the same thing. But even if slavery had been based on Roman practices in the New Testament, then the argument still does not work. The important differences between Roman slavery and Christian slavery do not lie in the rules. They are almost the same, and where they differ the Christian rules are generally harsher than the Roman rules. Slaves were bought and sold, often at auction. Prisoners captured in war were enslaved. The children of slaves also became slaves. The master had a right to control slave marriage and regulate slave family life - regarding slaves as breeding stock. Slave-girls were available for sex. As one Roman said of his time, Whoever heard of a man prosecuted for sleeping with his concubine? Escaped slaves were hunted. Rewards were offered for their return. Once returned they could be punished in the most cruel ways, not merely flogging, but amputation of a foot or "half a foot".

    It is certainly true that Roman slavery was often more benign than Christian. We know that Roman slaves were often educated, well treated, given good food and medical attention, appointed to responsible offices, and even treated as friends. But this reflects the relative level of civilisation of the society and the individual slave owners. If Roman slave owners behaved better than Christian slave owners, it is because pagan Romans were more compassionate and civilised than later Christians. For identification, Christians chose to brand their slaves where pagans had merely tattooed them, but the purpose and the rules were almost identical.

     

     

     

    Christian Slavery in Africa

    Long after slavery had been abolished in Europe and America, Christians continued to practice slavery in Africa. The devoutly Catholic King Leopold II of the Belgians for example established a colony known as the Congo Free State. It was established with the express intention of spreading Christianity, and catholic missionaries went in large numbers. Between 1885 and 1908, the king's agents enslaved millions, many of whom were mutilated or killed for failing to work hard enough.

    Congo Free State, Slaves c 1905

     

    Congo Free State Slaves c 1904
    Failure to pay taxes often resulted in the offenders being condemned to slavery

     

    A slave is whipped with a chicotte — a bull whip made of hippopotamus hide
    Congo Free State c. 1905

    For more on slavery in the Congo Free State, and the role of the Christian Churches, see Christian atrocities.

     

    Slavery was also practiced in Australia, well into the twentieth century,
    unofficially, but with the informal approval of both Church and State

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Documents

     
     
     

    Runaway Slave Poster, in the US Library of Congress

     
     
     

    Great Sale of Slaves, Lexington, 1855 - Bucks, Wenches and a Picininny

     

    Slave Chains from west Africa (Royal Albert memorial Museum, Exeter)

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Slave Coffle

     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Slave Transport in Africa

     
     
     
     
     

    William F. Talbott of Lexington, Kentuckee

     

    Slave sale, Charleston

     

    Advertisement from Philadelphia’s American Weekly Mercury, 1738

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    A slave baby being forceably separated from its mother

     
     
     
    The-Official-Medallion-of-the-British-Anti-Slavery-Society-English-potter-Josiah-Wedgewood
     
    An idea of the reality of slavery
     

    Everyday life under the Christian hegenomy, captured in stone

     

    Slave masks, collars and shackles

     

    US Slave Collar - Reproduction by Fabrice Monteiro

     

    US Slave Collar - Reproduction by Fabrice Monteiro

    US Slave Collar - Reproduction by Fabrice Monteiro

     

     

    US Slave Collar - the bells make it difficult to escape

    US Slave Collar - Reproduction by Fabrice Monteiro

     

    US Slave Collar - Reproduction by Fabrice Monteiro

     

    Slave mask - still in use in Christian countries in Africa - design unchanged

     

    US Slave Collar - Reproduction by Fabrice Monteiro

    Pope Damasus - One of many slaver Popes
    Under Damasus's rule, women and children were bought and sold as sex slaves to increase funding for the Catholic Church

    Anyone who helped a slave escape commited a kind of theft - since a slave was property,
    If caught they were branded SS (for slave stealer) on the hand

     

    Jonathan Walker was an American reformer who became a national hero in 1844 when he was tried and sentenced as a slave stealer following his attempt to help seven runaway slaves find freedom.
    He was branded on his hand by the United States Government with the markings S.S. for "Slave Stealer"..

     

    Franklin and Armfield Office, was started in 1828 by Isaac Franklin and John Armfield. The office was known to have been the largest slave trading firm in the antebellum south. At its height in the 1830s, the firm transported between 1,000 and 1,200 slaves from Alexandria to New Orleans each year. It closed in 1836. The office still stands at 1315 Duke Street in Alexandria, Virginia.

     

    Another design of collar

     

    Slave shackles

     

    Slave collar and mask. The collar has a croos welded onto it.

     

    Auction of a slave and her daughter. Possibly one lot. Possibly not.

     

    Marcella Dunn's gravestone (photo courtesy of Kimberly Borchard)

     

    Francis Bok, former Sudanese slave

     

    Slave collars and shackles

     

    another run-away slave, 1854 - note that his wife is owned by a different slave-master

     

    The Slave Triangle

     

    Close packing of slaves athwart one deck of the Brookes

     

    Slave Children Onboard the Daphne

     

    Abolition by Granger

     

    “Salve Auction” in Richmond, Virginia. February 16, 1881 edition of The Illustrated London News

     
     
     

    child-slave

     
     
    The Voice of the Clergy (Philadelphia, 1864). When Pennsylvania Democrats republished Episcopal Bishop John Henry Hopkins's proslavery work The Bible View of Slavery as a campaign document, the Episcopal clergy of Pennsylvania published this denunciation of it.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    Slave auction block in Florida

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

     

     

     

     

    Other areas of social reform:

     

     

    Delicious
     
     
    Buy the Book from Amazon.com

     

     

    Buy the Book from Amazon.co.uk
    Beyond Belief: Two Thousand (2000) Years of Bad Faith in the Christian Church
     

     


     

    The Code Noir (The Black Code)

     

    Edict of the King:

    On the subject of the Policy regarding the Islands of French America

    March 1685

    Recorded at the sovereign Council of Saint Domingue, 6 May 1687.

    Louis, by the grace of God, King of France and Navarre: to all those here present and to those to come, GREETINGS. In that we must also care for all people that Divine Providence has put under our tutelage, we have agreed to have the reports of the officers we have sent to our American islands studied in our presence. These reports inform us of their need for our authority and our justice in order to maintain the discipline of the Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith in the islands. Our authority is also required to settle issues dealing with the condition and quality of the slaves in said islands. We desire to settle these issues and inform them that, even though they reside infinitely far from our normal abode, we are always present for them, not only through the reach of our power but also by the promptness of our help toward their needs. For these reasons, and on the advice of our council and of our certain knowledge, absolute power and royal authority, we have declared, ruled, and ordered, and declare, rule, and order, that the following pleases us:

    Article I. We desire and we expect that the Edict of 23 April 1615 of the late King, our most honored lord and father who remains glorious in our memory, be executed in our islands. This accomplished, we enjoin all of our officers to chase from our islands all the Jews who have established residence there. As with all declared enemies of Christianity, we command them to be gone within three months of the day of issuance of the present [order], at the risk of confiscation of their persons and their goods.

    Article II. All slaves that shall be in our islands shall be baptized and instructed in the Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith. We enjoin the inhabitants who shall purchase newly-arrived Negroes to inform the Governor and Intendant of said islands of this fact within no more that eight days, or risk being fined an arbitrary amount. They shall give the necessary orders to have them instructed and baptized within a suitable amount of time.

    Article III. We forbid any religion other than the Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith from being practiced in public. We desire that offenders be punished as rebels disobedient of our orders. We forbid any gathering to that end, which we declare to be conventicle, illegal, and seditious, and subject to the same punishment as would be applicable to the masters who permit it or accept it from their slaves.

    Article IV. No persons assigned to positions of authority over Negroes shall be other than a member of the Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith, and the master who assigned these persons shall risk having said Negroes confiscated, and arbitrary punishment levied against the persons who accepted said position of authority.

    Article V. We forbid our subjects who belong to the so-called "reformed" religion from causing any trouble or unforeseen difficulties for our other subjects or even for their own slaves in the free exercise of the Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith, at the risk of exemplary punishment.

    Article VI. We enjoin all our subjects, of whatever religion and social status they may be, to observe Sundays and the holidays that are observed by our subjects of the Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith. We forbid them to work, nor make their slaves work, on said days, from midnight until the following midnight. They shall neither cultivate the earth, manufacture sugar, nor perform any other work, at the risk of a fine and an arbitrary punishment against the masters, and of confiscation by our officers of as much sugar worked by said slaves before being caught.

    Article VII. We forbid them also to hold slave markets or any other market on said days at the risk of similar punishments and of confiscation of the merchandise that shall be discovered at the market, and an arbitrary fine against the sellers.

    Article VIII. We declare that our subjects who are not of the Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith, are incapable of contracting a valid marriage in the future. We declare any child born from such unions to be bastards, and we desire that said marriages be held and reputed, and to hold and repute, as actual concubinage.

    Article IX. Free men who shall have one or more children during concubinage with their slaves, together with their masters who accepted it, shall each be fined two thousand pounds of sugar. If they are the masters of the slave who produced said children, we desire, in addition to the fine, that the slave and the children be removed and that she and they be sent to work at the hospital, never to gain their freedom. We do not expect however for the present article to be applied when the man was not married to another person during his concubinage with this slave, who he should then marry according to the accepted rites of the Church. In this way she shall then be freed, the children becoming free and legitimate. . . .

    Article XI. We forbid priests from conducting weddings between slaves if it appears that they do not have their masters' permission. We also forbid masters from using any constraints on their slaves to marry them without their wishes.

    Article XII. Children born from marriages between slaves shall be slaves, and if the husband and wife have different masters, they shall belong to the masters of the female slave, not to the master of her husband.

    Article XIII. We desire that if a male slave has married a free woman, their children, either male or female, shall be free as is their mother, regardless of their father's condition of slavery. And if the father is free and the mother a slave, the children shall also be slaves. . . .

    Article XV. We forbid slaves from carrying any offensive weapons or large sticks, at the risk of being whipped and having the weapons confiscated. The weapons shall then belong to he who confiscated them. The sole exception shall be made for those who have been sent by their masters to hunt and who are carrying either a letter from their masters or his known mark.

    Article XVI. We also forbid slaves who belong to different masters from gathering, either during the day or at night, under the pretext of a wedding or other excuse, either at one of the master's houses or elsewhere, and especially not in major roads or isolated locations. They shall risk corporal punishment that shall not be less than the whip and the fleur de lys, and for frequent recidivists and in other aggravating circumstances, they may be punished with death, a decision we leave to their judge. We enjoin all our subjects, even if they are not officers, to rush to the offenders, arrest them, and take them to prison, and that there be no decree against them. . . .

    Article XVIII. We forbid slaves from selling sugar cane, for whatever reason or occasion, even with the permission of their master, at the risk of a whipping for the slaves and a fine of ten pounds for the masters who gave them permission, and an equal fine for the buyer.

    Article XIX. We also forbid slaves from selling any type of commodities, even fruit, vegetables, firewood, herbs for cooking and animals either at the market, or at individual houses, without a letter or a known mark from their masters granting express permission. Slaves shall risk the confiscation of goods sold in this way, without their masters receiving restitution for the loss, and a fine of six pounds shall be levied against the buyers. . . .

    Article XXVII. Slaves who are infirm due to age, sickness or other reason, whether the sickness is curable or not, shall be nourished and cared for by their masters. In the case that they be abandoned, said slaves shall be awarded to the hospital, to which their master shall be required to pay six sols per day for the care and feeding of each slave. . . .

    Article XXXI. Slaves shall not be a party, either in court or in a civil matter, either as a litigant or as a defendant, or as a civil party in a criminal matter. And compensation shall be pursued in criminal matters for insults and excesses that have been committed against slaves. . . .

    Article XXXIII. The slave who has struck his master in the face or has drawn blood, or has similarly struck the wife of his master, his mistress, or their children, shall be punished by death. . . .

    Article XXXVIII. The fugitive slave who has been on the run for one month from the day his master reported him to the police, shall have his ears cut off and shall be branded with a fleur de lys on one shoulder. If he commits the same infraction for another month, again counting from the day he is reported, he shall have his hamstring cut and be branded with a fleur de lys on the other shoulder. The third time, he shall be put to death.

    Article XXXIX. The masters of freed slaves who have given refuge to fugitive slaves in their homes shall be punished by a fine of three hundred pounds of sugar for each day of refuge.

    Article XL. The slave who has been punished with death based on denunciation by his master, and who is not a party to the crime for which he was condemned, shall be assessed prior to his execution by two of the principal citizens of the island named by a judge. The assessment price shall be paid by the master, and in order to satisfy this requirement, the Intendant shall impose said sum on the head of each Negro. The amount levied in the estimation shall be paid for each of the said Negroes and levied by the [Tax] Farmer of the Royal Western lands to avoid costs. . . .

    Article XLII. The masters may also, when they believe that their slaves so deserve, chain them and have them beaten with rods or straps. They shall be forbidden however from torturing them or mutilating any limb, at the risk of having the slaves confiscated and having extraordinary charges brought against them.

    Article XLIII. We enjoin our officers to criminally prosecute the masters, or their foremen, who have killed a slave under their auspices or control, and to punish the master according to the circumstances of the atrocity. In the case where there is absolution, we allow our officers to return the absolved master or foreman, without them needing our pardon.

    Article XLIV. We declare slaves to be charges, and as such enter into community property. They are not to be mortgaged, and shall be shared equally between the CO-inheritors without benefit to the wife or one particular inheritor, nor subject to the right of primogeniture, the usual customs duties, feudal or lineage charges, or feudal or seigneurial taxes. They shall not be affected by the details of decrees, nor from the imposition of the four-fifths, in case of disposal by death or bequeathing. . . .

    Article XLVII. Husband, wife and prepubescent children, if they are all under the same master, may not be taken and sold separately. We declare the seizing and sales that shall be done as such to be void. For slaves who have been separated, we desire that the seller shall risk their loss, and that the slaves he kept shall be awarded to the buyer, without him having to pay any supplement. . . .

    Article LV. Masters twenty years of age may free their slaves by any act toward the living or due to death, without their having to give just cause for their actions, nor do they require parental advice as long as they are minors of 25 years of age.

    Article LVI. The children who are declared to be sole legatees by their masters, or named as executors of their wills, or tutors of their children, shall be held and considered as freed slaves. . . .

    Article LVIII. We declare their freedom is granted in our islands if their place of birth was in our islands. We declare also that freed slaves shall not require our letters of naturalization to enjoy the advantages of our natural subjects in our kingdom, lands or country of obedience, even when they are born in foreign countries.

    Article LIX. We grant to freed slaves the same rights, privileges and immunities that are enjoyed by freeborn persons. We desire that they are deserving of this acquired freedom, and that this freedom gives them, as much for their person as for their property, the same happiness that natural liberty has on our other subjects.

    Versailles, March 1685, the forty second year of our reign.

    Signed LOUIS,

    and below the King.

    Colbert, visa, Le Tellier.

    Read, posted and recorded at the sovereign council of the coast of Saint Domingue, kept at Petit Goave, 6 May 1687, Signed Moriceau.

     

    Source: Édit du Roi, Touchant la Police des Isles de l'Amérique Française (Paris, 1687), 28–58.

     


     

    Notes

    1 The Authorised Version invariably uses the word servant where the natural translation is slave. Most modern translations use the word slave (a more accurate rendering of the Hebrew "ebhedh, Greek doulos) — masters buy and sells slaves not servants.

    2. Ignatius's letter to Polycarp 4. See Andrew Louth (ed.), Maxwell Staniforth (trans.) Early Christian Writings, p 110.

    3. St Augustine, City of God, Book XIX, Chapter 15.

    4. Fox, Pagans and Christians, p 298, citing G Sotgiu, Arch. Class. 25/6 (1973-4) 688. Felix's collar was an inscribed bronze collarof the late fifth or early sixth century AD, worn by a slave of the Christian archdeacon in Sardinia, reproduced in G H R Horsley (ed), New Documents illustrating Early Christianity (Macquarie University, North Ryde, New South Wales, 1981, pp 140-141. The inscription runs S[ervus sum] Felicis ar[ch]idiac[oni]: tene me ne fugiam, translated into English: "I am a slave of Felix the archdeacon: hold me lest I run away", Frederick Fyvie Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, William. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Michigan 1984, p 198.

    5. Kyle Harper, Slavery in the Late Roman World, AD 275-425, Cambridge University Press, p 258.

    6. Ibid, p 258.

    7. Ibid, p 258.

    8. Ibid, p 259

    9. Keith Bradley, Slavery and Society at Rome, Cambridge University Press, p 148, citing the longer monastic rules of Basil, Bishop of Caesaria, in the 370's

    10. Kyle Harper, Slavery in the Late Roman World, AD 275-425, Cambridge University Press, p 259

    11. Kyle Harper, Slavery in the Late Roman World, AD 275-425, Cambridge University Press, p 258

    12. Kyle Harper, Slavery in the Late Roman World, AD 275-425, Cambridge University Press, p 498

    13. Kyle Harper, Slavery in the Late Roman World, AD 275-425, Cambridge University Press, p 498, citing Greg Mag Ep 6:10

    14. Kyle Harper, Slavery in the Late Roman World, AD 275-425, Cambridge University Press, p 498, citing Greg Mag Ep 9:124}

    15. Decretum gratiani, Case. 32: Misuse of Marriage q. 3: Marriage of Slaves.

    16. The fuller relevant passages are:

    Let matrimony be put asunder when a free man has unknowingly contracted with a slave girl, unless he had relations with her after discovering this.
    Alexander the III to the Guardian and Prior of Mortari.
    The woman M., the bearer of the present letter, set out to us that, after her husband had lived with her a long time, he objected to the blemish of her servile condition and asserted that she was a slave, and that he thought she was free when he took her as wife.
    This matter was treated before our venerable brother, the bishop of Asti, and the woman, who feared that she would be injured there, appealed to our hearing. After a short delay this man withdrew the lawsuit he had initiated. Both are alive. Therefore, by apostolic decree, we command Your Discretion, since you have inquired concerning this: Summon the parties before you and carefully investigate the truth of this matter.
    If it is clear to you that this man knew the woman carnally after he heard she was a slave, admonish him and compel him to take her and treat her as his wife with marital affection. But if this is not the case, and a decree of divorce is to be given, have restitution made to the woman of the money she gave the said man in dowry, as this is just. (Decretals of Gregory IX, Book Four, The Marriage of Slaves, C. 2)

    If a free man has unknowingly contracted with a slave girl, and did not consent when he discovered this, the matrimony may be put asunder, and he can contract with another.
    Innocent III to Bishop H.
    You know that it has come to our hearing that our beloved son G., the cardinal priest under the title of Santa Maria in Trastevere, legate of the Apostolic See, separated our beloved son R., a nobleman and knight, from a certain woman because of an error about her condition.
    By apostolic decree, therefore, we command Your Fraternity: Carefully investigate the truth of this matter and, if it is clear to you that this knight contracted with the slave girl unknowingly and, afterwards, when he understood her condition, did not consent to her by word or deed (the reason their union was put asunder by the cardinal), you may, by apostolic authority, grant him permission to contract with another woman. (Decretals of Gregory IX, Book Four, Title VIII, C. 4)

    17. Uta Ranke-Heinemann, Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven, p 104.

    18. A number of cases of women being taken into slavery on the orders of Church authorities are cited by Uta Ranke-Heinemann, Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven, pp 89-93.

    19. Uta Ranke-Heinemann, Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven, p 91.

    20. Decretum Gratiani, pars. 2, dist. 32, c10 (Hefele, C. J. Konziliengeschichte, vol. V (1863) p 175 ).

    21. Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, vol. 3, p 357.

    22. F G Wood, The Arrogance of Faith, A A Knoopf (New York, 1990), p 59

    23. The issue generally came to court only because of insurance claims, slaves being property like any other. A key case (concerning a ship called the "Zong" from which slaves had been jettisoned) was heard in 1783. See Walvin, Black Ivory A History of British Slavery, pp 16-22.

    24. James Walvin, Black Ivory A History of British Slavery, p 304.

    25. James Walvin, Black Ivory A History of British Slavery, p 190.

    26. To his credit Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, marshalled a public apology in 2006 for the Anglican Church's role in promoting slavery http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2006/feb/09/religion.world

    27. For these and other examples of torture and mistreatment of slaves, see Scott, A History of Torture, ch XIV, especially pp 126-7.

    28. James Walvin, Black Ivory A History of British Slavery, p 184.

    aaa. "Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race," by Dr. Cartwright (in DeBow's Review), De Bow's Review, Southern and Western States, Volume XI, New Orleans, 1851, AMS Press, Inc. New York, 1967

     

    DRAPETOMANIA, OR THE DISEASE CAUSING NEGROES TO RUN AWAY.

    It is unknown to our medical authorities, although its diagnostic symptom, the absconding from service, is well known to our planters and overseers...

    In noticing a disease not heretofore classed among the long list of maladies that man is subject to, it was necessary to have a new term to express it. The cause in the most of cases, that induces the negro to run away from service, is as much a disease of the mind as any other species of mental alienation, and much more curable, as a general rule. With the advantages of proper medical advice, strictly followed, this troublesome practice that many negroes have of running away, can be almost entirely prevented, although the slaves be located on the borders of a free state, within a stone's throw of the abolitionists.

    If the white man attempts to oppose the Deity's will, by trying to make the negro anything else than "the submissive knee-bender," (which the Almighty declared he should be,) by trying to raise him to a level with himself, or by putting himself on an equality with the negro; or if he abuses the power which God has given him over his fellow-man, by being cruel to him, or punishing him in anger, or by neglecting to protect him from the wanton abuses of his fellow-servants and all others, or by denying him the usual comforts and necessaries of life, the negro will run away; but if he keeps him in the position that we learn from the Scriptures he was intended to occupy, that is, the position of submission; and if his master or overseer be kind and gracious in his hearing towards him, without condescension, and at the same time ministers to his physical wants, and protects him from abuses, the negro is spell-bound, and cannot run away.

    According to my experience, the "genu flexit" -- the awe and reverence, must be exacted from them, or they will despise their masters, become rude and ungovernable, and run away. On Mason and Dixon's line, two classes of persons were apt to lose their negroes: those who made themselves too familiar with them, treating them as equals, and making little or no distinction in regard to color; and, on the other hand, those who treated them cruelly, denied them the common necessaries of life, neglected to protect them against the abuses of others, or frightened them by a blustering manner of approach, when about to punish them for misdemeanors. Before the negroes run away, unless they are frightened or panic-struck, they become sulky and dissatisfied. The cause of this sulkiness and dissatisfaction should be inquired into and removed, or they are apt to run away or fall into the negro consumption. When sulky and dissatisfied without cause, the experience of those on the line and elsewhere, was decidedly in favor of whipping them out of it, as a preventive measure against absconding, or other bad conduct. It was called whipping the devil out of them.

    If treated kindly, well fed and clothed, with fuel enough to keep a small fire burning all night--separated into families, each family having its own house--not permitted to run about at night to visit their neighbors, to receive visits or use intoxicating liquors, and not overworked or exposed too much to the weather, they are very easily governed--more so than any other people in the world. When all this is done, if any one of more of them, at any time, are inclined to raise their heads to a level with their master or overseer, humanity and their own good require that they should be punished until they fall into that submissive state which it was intended for them to occupy in all after-time, when their progenitor received the name of Canaan or "submissive knee-bender." They have only to be kept in that state and treated like children, with care, kindness, attention and humanity, to prevent and cure them from running away.

    DYSAETHESIA AETHIOPICA, OR HEBETUDE OF MIND AND OBTUSE SENSIBILITY OF BODY--A DISEASE PECULIAR TO NEGROES--CALLED BY OVERSEERS, " RASCALITY."

    Dysaesthesia Aethiopica is a disease peculiar to negroes, affecting both mind and body in a manner as well expressed by dysaesthesia, the name I have given it, as could be by a single term. There is both mind and sensibility, but both seem to be difficult to reach by impressions from without. There is a partial insensibility of the skin, and so great a hebetude of the intellectual faculties, as to be like a person half asleep, that is with difficulty aroused and kept awake. It differs from every other species of mental disease, as it is accompanied with physical signs or lesions of the body discoverable to the medical observer, which are always present and sufficient to account for the symptoms. It is much more prevalent among free negroes living in clusters by themselves, than among slaves on our plantations, and attacks only such slaves as live like free negroes in regard to diet, drinks, exercise, etc. It is not my purpose to treat of the complaint as it prevails among free negroes, nearly all of whom are more or less afflicted with it, that have not got some white person to direct and to take care of them. To narrate its symptoms and effects among them would be to write a history of the ruins and dilapidation of Hayti, and every spot of earth they have ever had uncontrolled possession over for any length of time. I propose only to describe its symptoms among slaves.

    From the careless movements of the individuals affected with the complaint, they are apt to do much mischief, which appears as if intentional, but is mostly owing to the stupidness of mind and insensibility of the nerves induced by the disease. Thus, they break, waste and destroy everything they handle,--abuse horses and cattle,--tear, burn or rend their own clothing, and, paying no attention to the rights of property, steal others, to replace what they have destroyed. They wander about at night, and keep in a half nodding sleep during the day. They slight their work,--cut up corn, cane, cotton or tobacco when hoeing it, as if for pure mischief. They raise disturbances with their overseers and fellow-servants without cause or motive, and seem to be insensible to pain when subjected to punishment. The fact of the existence of such a complaint, making man like an automaton or senseless machine, having the above or similar symptoms, can be clearly established by the most direct and positive testimony. That it should have escaped the attention of the medical profession, can only be accounted for because its attention has not been sufficiently directed to the maladies of the negro race. Otherwise a complaint of so common an occurrence on badly-governed plantations, and so universal among free negroes, or those who are not governed at all,--a disease radicated in physical lesions and having its peculiar and well marked symptoms and its curative indications, would not have escaped the notice of the profession. The northern physicians and people have noticed the symptoms, but not the disease from which they spring. They ignorantly attribute the symptoms to the debasing influence of slavery on the mind without considering that those who have never been in slavery, or their fathers before them, are the most afflicted, and the latest from the slave-holding South the least. The disease is the natural offspring of negro liberty--the liberty to be idle, to wallow in filth, and to indulge in improper food and drinks.

    29. James Walvin, Black Ivory A History of British Slavery, p 187.

    30. Psychological studies have found evidence of religion still being responsible for "psychological bondage" amongst African Americans well into the twentieth century. See Argyle and Beit-Hallahmi, The Social Psychology of Religion, p 108, citing W. H. Grier and P. M. Cobbs, The Jesus Bag, McGraw Hill (New York, 1971).

    31. Letter dated September 15, 1682, from Cotton Mather [1663-1728] to John Higginson [1616-1708]:, quoted (in a footnote) by Joseph Campbell in The Hero With a Thousand Faces. cited by Professor Robert Phillips, American Government and Its Problems, Houghton Mifflin, 1941, and by Dr. Karl Menninger, Love Against Hate, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1942, p. 211":

    To ye aged and beloved, Mr. John Higginson [1616-1708]:

    There be now at sea a ship called Welcome, which has on board 100 or more of the heretics and malignants called Quakers, with W. Penn, who is the chief scamp, at the head of them. The General Court has accordingly given sacred orders to Master Malachi Huscott, of the brig Porpoise, to waylay the said Welcome slyly as near the Cape of Cop as may be, and make captive the said Penn and his ungodly crew, so that the Lord may be glorified and not mocked on the soil of this new country with the heathen worship of these people. Much spoil can be made of selling the whole lot to Barbadoes, where slaves fetch good prices in rum and sugar and we shall not only do the Lord great good by punishing the wicked, but we shall make great good for His Minister and people.

    Yours in the bowels of Christ,

    Cotton Mather

    32. Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, p 92. The biblical reference is to Numbers 31:13-18.

    33. Tribe, 100 Years of Freethought, p 21.

    34. Frederick Douglass, Autobiographies: Narrative of a Life, My Bondage and My Freedom, Life and Times, Henry L. Gates, Jr., ed. (New York, Library of America, 1994), cited by Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World, p 343.

    35. Frederick Douglass, "Baptists, Congregationalists, the Free Church, and Slavery: An Address Delivered in Belfast, Ireland, on December 23, 1845." Belfast News Letter, December 26, 1845 and Belfast Northern Whig, December 25, 1845. Blassingame, John (et al, eds.). The Frederick Douglass Papers: Series One--Speeches, Debates, and Interviews. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979. Vol. I.

    36. Slavery within England itself had been confirmed to be contrary to the common law in 1772. The slave trade was made illegal in 1807 and ranked with piracy from 1824. Slavery was made illegal in all British territories in 1833.

     

    37. BBC News, 8 February 2006, Church apologises for slave trade, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4694896.stm

    38. Examples of Popes condemning "indiscriminate" slavery (without denying the four 'just titles' for owning slaves) include: Pope Eugenius IV condemning the indiscriminate enslavement of natives in the Canary Islands in 1435, Pope Paul III condemning the indiscriminate enslavement of Indians in South America in 1537, Pope Urban VIII condemning the indiscriminate enslavement of Indians in South America in 1639, Pope Benedict XIV condemning the indiscriminate enslavement of natives in Brazil in 1741.

    39. The Guardian, 13 March 2000, Pope Says Sorry for Sins of Church. (The title is misleading since the pope failed to mention any "sins of the Church"). http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2000/mar/13/catholicism.religion also, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/674246.stm

    40. "Gospel Truth", The Independent on Sunday, 15 th May 1996.

     
     
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