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Founding SinsHow a Group of Antislavery Radicals Fought to Put Christ into the Constitution$
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Joseph S. Moore

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190269241

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190269241.001.0001

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Slavery and the Sin of Secular America

Slavery and the Sin of Secular America

(p.88) 4 Slavery and the Sin of Secular America
Founding Sins

Joseph S. Moore

Oxford University Press

Covenanters mounted a witness against the sin of slavery unlike any other. First, their antislavery ideals antedated even the Quaker abolitionist movement; Covenanters were some of the first people in Britain or America to take a public stand against the institution. Second, they created a unique biblical interpretation that reconciled biblical literalism, with its clear sanction of slavery, and abolitionism, with its emphasis on human liberty in a state of nature. Third, Covenanters in the South tested the limits of pro-slavery hegemony by publicly lauding the American Colonization Society as the nation’s best hope to end slavery. Ironically, for a people so steeped in religious radicalism, southern Covenanters became some of the leading moderate voices in states that tolerated few dissenting voices. Finally, Covenanters gave an unambiguous interpretation of the cause of the Civil War. They testified that the war was God’s conflict with America for the sin of slavery.

Keywords:   American Colonization Society, abolition, moderation, Civil War, slavery, slave literacy, Underground Railroad

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