Religion's Influence on the Slavery Debates

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Slavery was a dominant part of the political and social arenas of 1800’s America. However, it was not homogenous as it divided America into two distinct groups: those who supported it and those who did not. Traditionally, the states in the north had been anti-slavery while the states in the south had been pro-slavery. Southern life and economy depended on slavery and therefore staunchly supported the continued legal status of slavery. The northern states on the other hand recognized the inhumane nature of slavery and campaigned to establish equality for all citizens. In order to establish solid reasoning for their stance, both pro-slave and anti-slave groups turned to theological inspiration for their actions. The Bible inspired both pro-slavery advocates and anti-slavery abolitionists alike. Religion was used in order to justify slavery and also to condemn it. “The right to have a slave implies the right in some one to make a slave; that right must be equal and mutual, and this would resolve society into a state of perpetual war.” Senator William Steward, an anti-slavery supporter, issued this claim in his “There is a Higher Law than the Constitution” speech. Steward, like all abolitionist, viewed all of man as equals. This equality came from the “higher law” that is the Bible. Since all men were created by God then all men were equals in God’s eyes. Abolitionist believed that whites had no more right to make a slave out of a African American than the African American had to make a slave out of a white man. In alignment with what the Bible told them, abolitionist understood that each man represented one of God’s creations and that men were part of God’s plan. If slavery was allowed to exist, then man was interrupting God’s de... ... middle of paper ... ... Anti-slavery advocates argued that God created all man as equals and therefore all men are equals. Pro-slavery advocates pointed to the long line of slavery in the Bible as justification. Both sides used the Bible as their main justification for their reasons against or for slavery. Since the United States was founded on the principle that no man does not stand equal among his peers, resistance to abolishment of slavery could not hold out forever. Slavery went against the perceived true meaning of God’s word and also against the principles of America. The Christian equality of the North won over the hard-nosed Old Testament South. Eventually the equality America was intended to be founded upon was realized when slavery was abolished. Works Cited Thomas R. Dew Defends Slavery (1852) Senator William Seward, “There is a Higher Law than the Constitution” speech

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