Pro Slavery And Abolitionist Argumentative Analysis

Topics: Slavery in the United States, Slavery, American Civil War Pages: 3 (600 words) Published: March 1, 2017


During the nineteenth century, a myriad of arguments were offered supporting and rejecting the institution of slavery in America. Despite the multitude of arguments advanced, each and every argument was joined by a common thread. Whether the argument supported slavery or opposed slavery, nearly every article, sermon, pamphlet, and speech made one or more references to a Biblical passage that favored slavery or rejected slavery. Those who vehemently opposed slavery typically did so for reasons that were deeply rooted in morality. In the eyes of slavery’s opponents, owning slaves was a sin. Opponents of slavery often relied on the “principles of Christianity” to make their arguments. An example of this tendency is found in the writings of...

Few historians have evaluated the validity of the respective arguments favoring and opposing slavery. In fact, several arguments have received no assessment at all. The purpose of this thesis is to go beyond a simple recapitulation of the pro-slavery and abolitionist arguments. Rather, this thesis will assess the validity of the scriptural arguments put forth by the pro-slavery and abolitionist forces. In order to have a clear understanding of the slavery debate during the antebellum period, it is important to understand the origins of the Biblical interpretations used to promote and defend slavery in America. While the use of the Bible to promote and defend slavery would reach its peak in the antebellum years, this phenomenon did not arise during this turbulent time in America’s history. The seeds of this debate were sown much earlier. As early as 1688, four recently immigrated Germans, fleeing religious persecution, signed what is known as the Germantown petition at a Quaker meeting in Germantown, Pennsylvania. The four men were Francis Daniel Pastorius, Gerret Hendericks, Derick op de Graef, and Abraham op de Graef. The petition emphasized the contradictions that existed between the religious and social principles of those who founded the Quaker religion and the inhumane institution of slavery in which many Quakers actively participated. Throughout the petition, appeals were made to Quaker ethics in order to denounce the slave trade and the enslavement of Africans. More importantly, appeals were made to an important Biblical teaching. In fact, this petition would mark the first “semi-public questioning of the enslavement of Africans in British North America,” that would reference a Biblical...
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