Slavery: Religious Justification and Abolition

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What role did religion play in the justification and abolition discourses that emerged in the nineteenth century in both the Antebellum South and the Ottoman Empire? Religion played an important role in the discourse used to justify as well as challenge slavery in both the Ottoman Empire and the Antebellum South. These two slave societies deployed Islam and Christianity respectively in the slavery rhetoric that emerged as early as the eighteenth century and continued to reinterpret the scripture overtime to support one side or the other. Abolitionist impulse in America arose from Jefferson’s idea of enlightenment, which called for religious reawakening. Northern Quakers and evangelists pushed for this religious revivalism in hopes of undoing what they termed the “greatest sin ever committed against the will of God”. In the early nineteenth century the evangelical abolition movement emerged along with the formation of “abolition churches.” According to John Mckivigan, the American abolitionist movement emerged “during the 1930s as a by-product of the upsurge of revivalism popularly known as the Second Great Awakening.” This meant a harsh critique of slavery using Christian rhetoric that dubbed slavery a “personal sin…that required immediate and complete repentance in the form of emancipation” Christianity here came to hold masters morally accountable for participating in sin. Before the emergence of the abolitionist movement in the U.S., only a few small churches critiqued the evil and inhumane nature of slavery. Yet, small denominational churches, such as the Quakers, resisted enslavement using Christian teachings. They argued that to win God’s favor, Christianity needed to return to “its original form untainted by the princ... ... middle of paper ... ..., and Maurice J. Bric. A global History of Anti-Slavery Politics in the Nineteenth Century. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. Puckett, Newbell N. The Magic and Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1926. Reprinted by Dover, New York, 1969. Robert Abzug, Cosmos Crumbling: American Reform and the Religious Imagination, 1994. Raboteau, Albert J. Slave Religion: The "Invisible Institution" in the Antebellum South. New York: Oxford University Press US, 2004. Segal, Ronald. Islam's Black slaves: the other Black diaspora. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001. Snay, Mitchell. Gospel of disunion: religion and separatism in the antebellum South. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. Toledano, Ehud R. Slavery and abolition in the Ottoman Middle East. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1998.

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