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Noah's CurseThe Biblical Justification of American Slavery$
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Stephen R. Haynes

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195142792

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195142799.001.0001

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Noah's Sons in New Orleans

Noah's Sons in New Orleans

Genesis 9–11 and Benjamin Morgan Palmer

(p.125) 7 Noah's Sons in New Orleans
Noah's Curse

Stephen R. Haynes (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the use of the story of Noah's sons and related passages in the biblical exposition of Benjamin M. Palmer (1818–1902), a representative proslavery intellectual and leader in the southern Presbyterian Church from the 1850s until his death in 1902. Palmer was not only an influential advocate of slavery and secession but also an apostle of the South's Lost Cause following the Civil War. The role of Ham's curse is traced through Palmer's writings before, during, and after the Civil War, through which it is demonstrated that, with the demise of American slavery, Genesis 9–11 was utilized to justify racial segregation. The postbellum need for a new system of domination for dealing with the African majority in the South corresponds to a shift in Palmer's reading of Genesis from Ham the impudent son to Nimrod the rebellious tyrant who ignored the separation of peoples instituted by God following the flood.

Keywords:   Civil War, intellectuals, Lost Cause, Palmer, Presbyterian, proslavery, secession, segregation

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