Slavery and Christianity in Harriet A. Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself

Slavery and Christianity in Harriet A. Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself

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The Incongruity of Slavery and Christianity in Harriet A. Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself

Slavery, the “Peculiar Institution” of the South, caused suffering among an innumerable number of human beings. Some people could argue that the life of a domestic animal would be better than being a slave; at least animals are incapable of feeling emotions. Suffering countless atrocities, including sexual assault, beatings, and murders, these slaves endured much more than we would think is humanly possible today. Yet, white southern “Christians” committed these atrocities, believing their behaviors were neither wrong nor immoral. Looking back at these atrocities, those who call themselves Christians are appalled. In Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself, Harriet A. Jacobs describes the hypocrisy of Southern, Christian slave owners in order to show that slavery and Christianity are not congruent.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson). Thomas Jefferson, a white, Christian, political southern slave owner, wrote these words in 1776, a period in United States history when slavery thrived. The writer of the Declaration of Independence contradicts himself when he states that all men are created equal, when in actuality, his slaves were denied all that humans were meant to cherish.

The slave owners accepted and rationalized slavery through the Holy Bible. The Bible mentions slavery on numerous occasions, and yet none of these passages condemn it. Timothy 6:1-2 states, “Let slaves regard th...


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...e that chattel slavery was a cruel, perverse institution that no human should ever have to endure. Most people realize today how hypocritical it was to call oneself a Christian, while treating slaves so horribly. Throughout her book, Harriet Jacobs, in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself, revealed Americans everywhere that slave owners were hypocrites, and calling themselves Christians was perhaps the greatest sin of all.

Works Cited

Jacobs, Harriet A. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself. 1861. Ed.

Lydia Maria Child. New ed. Jean Fagan Yellin. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1987.

Jefferson, Thomas. “The Declaration of Independence.” 4 July 1776.

The Holy Bible. New International Version. Zondervan Publishing House. 1983.

King, Martin Luther. “I Have a Dream.” Washington, D.C. 28 Aug. 1963.

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