Tuesday, July 13, 2021

From 1619 To Emancipation (Planting The Wind; Harvesting The Whirlwind, Part 1)

We learn some important things about how we, the followers of Jesus, ought to be present in the world simply by looking at how Jesus was present with the people in his time.

·    He “saw” people[1] (It’s a loaded word - see Matthew 9:36 – but it led to compassionate action.)

·     He listened and thoughtfully responded (See the Rich Young Ruler[2]; the woman who touched his garment[3]; the woman caught in adultery.)[4]

·     He spent time with them (He was that crazy ‘friend of sinners,'[5] an insult Jesus embraced.) 

·     He invited himself into their homes. (Zaccheus)[6]

·     He went to their unclean neighborhoods. (Samaria)[7]

·     He empathized with them (Hebrew 4:15). [8] “In our pain; Jesus is pained. In our suffering, he feels the suffering as his own even though it isn’t… his heart is feelingly drawn into our distress.. His human nature engages our troubles comprehensively.”[9]

·     He poured out his life for them. (#crucifixion)

·     He offered them hope. “I have come that you might have life.” (John 10:10)

This is what the love of God looked like expressed through Jesus. We model the loving example of Jesus when we see, listen, spend time together with others, seek to sympathize and empathize, and pour out our lives so that we might faithfully and lovingly re-present Jesus in hope-filled attitudes, actions, and words.  

Because I want to write about an aspect of life that ought to inspire a motivating sorrow as we see the impact of evil in the world, it’s worth noting that a key way in which is described: “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.”[10] 

“Twice in the Gospels we are told that Jesus broke down and wept. And in neither case is it sorrow for himself or his own pains. In both cases it is sorrow over another – and in one case, Jerusalem (Luke 19:41), and in the other, his deceased friend, Lazarus (John 11:35). What was his deepest anguish?  The anguish of others. What drew his heart out to the point of tears? The tears of others.”[11]

There is a movement of people leaving white evangelicalism (#leaveloud) because of ongoing frustrations with how the brutal legacy and ongoing painful reality of racism is (or isn’t) being addressed. A recent Barna survey revealed that “more than any segment of the population, white evangelical Christians demonstrate a blindness to the struggle of their African American brothers and sisters.”[12] It doesn’t feel to many non-white evangelicals like the church is a place where the heart of Jesus for those hurt by sin is on display. Their experience is that the church is refusing to see, listen and take seriously the ongoing legacy of the pain of racism. That feels a lot like a refusal to love by a refusal to empathize.[13]

Here’s a practical example about what’s at stake. The Nation of Islam began in the 1930s and quickly became an alternative to Christianity for many black people who had become disillusioned with the Christian religion’s seeming impotence in the face of racial prejudice. Muhammad Ali once explained that he had embraced “the Nation” as a teenager after a NOI member gave him one of their newspapers with a cartoon depicting a white slave owner whipping an enslaved black man while also telling him to pray to Christ.[14]

Maybe the lack of honest tackling of this issue is happening because there are a lot of ways for this discussion to potentially go wrong. We are seeing that on display as our nation tries to address it. But I also know this: not talking about is a way that will definitely go wrong. With that in mind, I am walking into this praying that this will go right. We are called to be ministers of reconciliation [15]; we can’t be part of that if we don’t understand what needs to be reconciled, and how, and why. 

I have preached a lot of sermons and done a lot of posts calling out sin and discussing the impact with which sin lands on its victims. This is just as true for racism as any other sin.·     


      If we don’t rightly name sin for what it is, we can too easily dismiss sin, not see sin, or fall into it rather than pursue righteousness. I will define racism as the dismissing, demeaning, objectifying, discarding and/or brutalizing of image bearers off God simply because their ethnicity or melanin differs from one’s own. Globallyracism is not unique to one group of people.[20]  In the United States, the legacy of racism directed at particular groups of people by other groups of people has historically been focused in particular ways, and that’s what we will look at: our history in the United States.


      If we don’t rightly see this sin, we will not see the victims of sin; if we do, we won’t see how profoundly it lands.  We see and listen so we can know and understand how legacies have shaped our collective national and American church history so that we might clearly intervene with righteousness and move both victims and perpetrators toward healing and restoration.[21] In the Old Testament, the Israelites constantly recited their history. They did not forget. Read Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9. He begs for God’s mercy for the actions of generations past; Daniel was not responsible for their sin, but he was responsible for what he did with the legacy they left him. Puritan Richard Sibbes wrote in relation to the compassion Jesus felt, “When [Christ] saw the people in misery, his bowels yearned within him; the works of grace and mercy in Christ, they came from his bowels first.”[16]


      If we don’t see how profoundly it lands, sin will continue without Christians moving into those sin-ravaged places and stopping the chaos and pain by bringing gospel healing to those who are the victims of it. What we learn should provoke us to love well so that we might have more wisdom on how to be faithfully and lovingly present in attitude, action, and word with those who have both experienced racism - and perpetrated it. 


      If we don’t move into those sin-ravaged places, especially as it shows up in the legacy of the church, the presentation of the gospel and the experience of doing life together with God’s people are going to suffer great harm. We want the community of the church to become a compelling place that embodies the heart and mind of Jesus for a world that is groaning from the weight of sin in every corner as it awaits redemption.[22]

The Bible is clear that there is a legacy of sin that gets passed down (Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:7; Deuteronomy 5:9). Ken Wytsma, a pastor in Beaverton, Oregon, looks at how racism leaves a legacy by summarizing our different American histories this way:  

“Much of our identity is derived from our past, our cultural heritage – where we’ve come from…The white American ‘creation story,’ as it was framed in the melting pot analogy of the 1940s and ‘50s, is positive and exciting: a country forged in the ‘untamed wilderness’ out of nothing more than a healthy dose of curiosity and courage and a thirst for liberty, freedom, and – ironically – equality. The black American creation story, Asian American creation story, Latin American creation story, and Native American creation story are rooted in tragedy, kidnapping, enslavement, theft, coercion, rape, murder, genocide, inequality, exclusion, terrorism, and oppression in this country, all because of the color of their ancestors’ skin. There is no denying the powerful psychological influence of such a heritage, nor the difficulty involved with forging an identity out of such a painful past.”[17]

There is no doubt our histories form us; the legacies of which we are a part shape our view of the world and the stories we tell ourselves about our place in it. Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah talk about Historical Trauma Response (HTR), a diagnosis developed by a social worker working with Native Americans. It’s a type of trans-generational trauma that happens when any people group endures widespread and prolonged trauma on a communal level. It’s “transferred from the first generation of trauma survivors to the second and further generations of offspring of the survivors via complex post-traumatic stress disorder mechanisms.” One example will, I hope, suffice: The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors are overrepresented by 300% in referrals to child psychiatry clinics in comparison to the general population.[18]

We have to take the legacy of sin seriously. We must see how racism has landed like a bomb in particular communities, sometimes for generation upon generation. We must not ignore how trauma lingers in a broken creation crying out for redemption. Not seeing this is refusing to see reality.

And yet.... Ezekiel is clear: when we are committed to righteousness, our history is not our destiny any more than our ancestors’ history is our destiny (Ezekiel 18:19-20) [19]  The whole point of the Gospel is that God can bring beauty from ashes, and that God’s people have the opportunity to spread the righteous and just boundaries of Eden into the wilderness of the world, bringing life and hope into places of death and despair. 

So, we are going to look at racism in American and specifically American church history. If what follows feels really personal to you – like I am attacking you as an individual or you as a white person - then you’ve got something going on I don’t know about. 

I’m not going to shame you, or tell you that you are a racist, or that being white automatically makes you complicit in racism.  As far as I know, nothing I cover will overlap with what you have done in your life. If it does, own it. If it doesn’t, don’t project false guilt onto yourself. 

Because I have been reading and listening to black and Native American evangelical writers and podcasters this past year, their historical experience will by my primary (though not sole) focus. There is going to be an avalanche of information, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. 

This will be a four part series: 1619 To Emancipation;  Emancipation To the Great Migration: Jim Crow, Reconstruction And Sundown Towns; From The Red Summer Until Today: The Lived Experience Of This Generation; and Where Do We Go From Here?

I beg of you to see and listen in order to build sympathy and provoke empathy, so we can be a loving, righteous and ultimately hope-filled presence in our culture and with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

* * * * *

“They have planted the wind and will harvest the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7)


·     The Indian Wars began in 1609. They won’t end until 1924, by which time the Native American population will have dropped by 95%.[23]

·     Slavery starts in the New World as early as 1619, when a Dutch ship that had stolen 20 or so Africans from a Portuguese slave trading ship called São João Bautista, or Saint John the Baptist, landed. 

·      In 1643, Virginia declared that black women (not black men, and not white or indigenous women) would be taxed. Immediately, it became more expensive for slave owners to own female slaves, so they were required to work harder – and better. Their ‘dues’ were often demanded sexually.[24]

·     In 1653, Wall Street was named after a literal wall built by slaves to protect the Dutch from Indian raids. They were being attacked because Dutch forces have massacred over a hundred Lenape men, women, and children under the orders of governor Willem Keift. Wall Street had one of the largest slave markets in the country in the 1700s.[25]

·     For every 100 people taken from Africa, only about 64 would survive the trip from the region's interior to the coast. Of those 64, around 48 would survive the weeks long journey across the Atlantic. Of those 48 who stepped off the ship in New York Harbor, only 28 to 30 would survive the first three to four years in the Colony. Historians refer to New York at this time as “a death factory for black people.” 

      In 1656, the Dutch Reformed Church stopped baptizing black infants because baptism (it had been agreed) granted freedom. 

·     In 1662, the Virginia Assembly said that, when black slave women were raped by their masters, the child would be born automatically a slave. This actually incentivized rape, as the children were automatically a valuable property of the rapist.

·     In 1667, the Virginia Assembly allowed baptism of slaves to continue by simply ruling that baptism did not change one’s status, slave or free. So, missionaries could make converts and not disrupt the slave trade. It’s no small surprise that their message was not readily received.

·     Bacon’s Rebellion resulted in laws taking away the rights of black slaves to bear arms – of any kind. In 1680, Virginia passed the Law For Preventing Negro Insurrections, which made it illegal for slaves to even fight back if one was attacked or beaten. Free Indians and blacks were not allowed to “lift up a hand in opposition against any Christian.”[26]

·     The impact of the French Code Noir (Black Code) of 1685, enacted in Louisiana, lingers to this day.[27]

·     In 1688, the Quakers of Germantown (later Philadelphia) wrote what one historian called “one of the first documents to make a humanitarian argument against slavery.”[28] The Quakers would continue to be strong abolitionist voices, but they were overwhelmed by the multitude of voices around them. 

·     In 1694, Massachusetts offered the first bounties for the heads and scalps of American Indian children; in 1695, it specified £25 for women or children “under the age of fourteen years, that shall be killed.” There were at least 69 government-issued scalp edicts in New England from 1675 to 1760 (and at least 50 issued elsewhere in the United States until 1885). In New England alone, records show government payments for 375 human scalps equaling government payments of millions of dollars in today’s money.

·     Various colonial governments sought to limit property ownership among chattel[29] slaves. For example, a 1692 Virginia law provided that "all horses, cattle and hoggs marked of any negro or other slaves marke, or by any slave kept” would be given to the white poor. This is the beginning of the crushing of generational wealth.

·     Other Christian voices joined the Quakers as abolitionists. “The same Bible that racists misused to support slavery and segregation is the one abolitionists and civil rights activists rightly used to animate their resistance. Whenever there has been racial injustice, there have been Christians who fought against it in the name of Jesus Christ.”[30] They were too few, and too far between.

·     In 1700, Puritan Judge Samuel Sewell (famous for the Salem Witch Trials) was one of those voices crying in the wilderness. He wrote The Selling of Joseph, one of the first anti-slavery tracts. "Liberty is in real value next unto Life: None ought to part with it themselves, or deprive others of it, but upon the most mature Consideration… man-stealing [is] an atrocious crime which would introduce among the English settlers people who would remain forever restive and alien…  These Ethiopians, as black as they are; seeing they are the Sons and Daughters of the First Adam, the Brethren and Sisters of the Last Adam, and the Offspring of God; They ought to be treated with a Respect agreeable." And yet, like many who opposed slavery, he was not opposed to segregation. "There is such a disparity in their Conditions, Colour, Hair, that they can never embody with us, and grow up into orderly Families, to the Peopling of the Land."[31]

·     John Saffin, a politician and judge in New England, wrote a response to Judge Sewell’s tract using the Bible to defend slavery. It ended like this: “The Negro’s Character: Cowardly and cruel are those blacks innate, Prone to revenge, imp of inveterate hate. He that exasperates them, soon espies Mischief and murder in their very eyes. Libidinous, deceitful, false and rude, Thy spume issue of ingratitude. The premises considered, all may tell, how near good Joseph they are parallel.“[32]

 Between 1680 and 1700, Virginia’s slaves increased from 3,000 to 16,000. This prompted the 1705 Act Concerning Servants and Slaves, “American history’s most striking evidence that our nation’s greatest sins were achieved with clear forethought and determined maintenance.”[33] New York passed one the same year. It included codes like this: if a slave “shall happen to be killed in… correction, it shall not be counted a felony; but master, owner and every such person giving correction, shall be free and acquit of all punishment and accusation…as if such incident had never happened.” [34] Virginia, by the way, was a state where the names of runaway slaves were posted on church doors. [35]

In 1712, two dozens slaves staged a rebellion in New York. When a group of men approached, they killed 9 of them. They were captured, and approximately 23 other slaves were convicted of being involved. 20 were hanged; one was roasted, slow-turning, over a fire; another broken on a wheel; a third had every bone methodically broken by a crowbar until he died. These punishments were consistent with the slave code of 1708. [36]  

·     In 1739, in what is known as the Stono Rebellion, an uprising of slaves left 23 white South Carolinians dead. South Carolina then passed the Negro Act of 1740, which restricted the right of slaves to assemble and educate themselves.  

·     In 1741, a grand jury in New York concluded black arsonists had set a series of fires to overthrow chattel slavery. 70 were sold to work in the Caribbean. 17 were hanged. 13 were burned at the stake. Compare this to the infamous Salem Witch Trials, in which 19 were executed, and none burned at the stake.  

      While some Christians were involved in the abolitionist movement (as previously noted) the majority were not. Jonathan Edwards owned household slaves. George Whitefield bought a South Carolina plantation and became a slave owner before leading a push to get slavery legalized in Georgia in 1751.[37] As you might imagine, Christians and preachers owning slaves was a lot for slaves to process.[38]

·      In 1754, Benjamin Franklin’s newspaper published a religious essay by Quaker preacher John Woolman entitled “Some Considerations on the Keeping of the Negroes,” which advocated strongly for emancipation. Franklin, however, did not have a high view of those who “blackened half of America.” “Why increase the sons of Africa, by planting them in America, where we have so fair an opportunity, by excluding all blacks and tawneys, of increasing the lovely white and red?”[39]

·      In 1781, the U.S. Constitution was ratified. William Lloyd Garrison, founder of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, citing Isaiah 28, called it a “covenant with death” because it didn’t ban slavery in America.[40]

·     The Baptist General Committee eventually issued statements in 1785 and 1790 opposing slavery. After some pushback from within the church, they decided it was a civil issue rather than a church one, and churches could do whatever they wanted. [41] 

·      In 1786, George Washington -  who 12 years earlier had written to a friend concerning the British that “we must assert our rights, or submit to every imposition that can be heaped upon us; till custom and use, will make us as tame, and abject slaves, as the blacks we rule over with such arbitrary sway”[42] - complained about Quakers trying to “liberate his slaves.” Soon after, Quakers in Philadelphia and North Carolina began to lay the groundwork for what would become the Underground Railroad.[43]

·     17 of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 owned a total of about 1,400 slaves. Of the first 12 U.S. presidents, eight were slave owners.[44]  Washington had hundreds of slaves; Jefferson over 600; Madison over 100; Monroe around 250. Washington would later describe his ownership of slaves as “the only unavoidable subject of regret.”  When Washington died, he freed the slaves he owned. He was the only Founding Father to do so.[45]


 Note: You can find quotes from most of the Founders opposing slavery even while they owned slaves; many thought freeing them was a good idea, but they didn’t want to live around them; more than a few expressed regret toward the end of their lives about their complicity in enabling the institution of slavery. Any narrative that paints them entirely as ruthless slaveholders or entirely as committed abolitionists does not do justice to the historical record.


·     There were 700,000 slaves in this land in 1790 (92% of the black population); 3.9 million in 1860 (89% of the black population).[46] 6 to 7 million enslaved people were imported to the New World during the 18th century. About 25% of Southern households owned slaves (as high as 49% in Mississippi).[47]

·     The 1790 Naturalization Act permitted only "free white persons" to become naturalized citizens, so only free white people could vote, serve on juries, hold office, and in many cases, own property.[48] 

The Second Amendment, passed in 1791, almost certainly was intended to secure the right of slave owning states to have a militia that, at that time, was used to hunt escaped slaves. James Madison appears to have rewritten the Second Amendment from its original form in response to Patrick Henry (who owned 70 or more slaves) demanding that the slave patrols in Virginia (‘militias’) be protected. See three resources in this footnote for more information.[49]

·     In 1792, at least 200 slaves began to help building the White House. All three of the original commissioners Washington appointed to oversee construction owned slaves. Some of the later commissioners even hired out their own enslaved people to help build the Capitol Building and the White House. As the White House website notes, “The use of enslaved labor to build one of the most revered symbols of American democracy, and the home of the President of the United States, represents the paradoxical relationship between the institution of slavery and the ideals of freedom and liberty enshrined in America’s founding documents.”[50]

·     “The Buttonwood Agreement, which started what became the New York Stock Exchange, was signed in 1792 under a buttonwood tree in front of 68 Wall Street, about a block away from the slave market at the intersection of Wall and Water streets. The agreement covered transactions and companies involved in the slave trade, including shipping, insurance and cotton.”[51]

·     In 1793, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, and Washington  signed it. The act made it a federal crime to assist escaped slaves. This was the same year slaves helped to build the Capital building.

·     The invention of the cotton gin (1793) led to an explosion in the expansion of slavery in order to meet the cotton demand. Much of the cotton in the South went through Northern ports, from which it was sent to England. “As the cotton trade went, so went the American economy.”[52]

·     In the late 1700s, priests from other countries were recording the brutal realities of slavery and the ubiquitous rape of enslaved women – by the church. One Frenchman recorded the priests were “keeping harems of Negro women, from whom was born a mixed race.”[53]

Dating back to the 1800s, Native American children were put in boarding schools – of which a third were run by Christian missionaries - to “Kill the Indian and save the man,” as Capt. Richard H. Pratt put it in an 1892 speech at George Mason University. “In Indian civilization I am a Baptist,” Pratt wrote, “because I believe in immersing the Indians in our civilization and when we get them under holding them there until they are thoroughly soaked.” In these 367 schools, they were isolated from their families, treated terribly (disease and malnutrition was rampant), and trained into low-paying vocations. More on this later.

·     In 1802, Leland Baptist in Massachusetts presented Thomas Jefferson with a 1200 pound block of cheese because of his famous “wall of separation between church and state” reply to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut. This was Thomas Jefferson, who owned slaves and believed that “Indians should ‘be absorbed’ into the United States or face military obliteration.”[54]

·     “Standard civics class accounts of the Electoral College rarely mention the real demon dooming direct national election in 1787 and 1803: slavery. At the Philadelphia convention, the visionary Pennsylvanian James Wilson proposed direct national election of the president. But the savvy Virginian James Madison responded that such a system would prove unacceptable to the South: “The right of suffrage was much more diffusive [i.e., extensive] in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes.” In other words, in a direct election system, the North would outnumber the South, whose many slaves (more than half a million in all) of course could not vote. But the Electoral College—a prototype of which Madison proposed in this same speech—instead let each southern state count its slaves, albeit with a two-fifths discount, in computing its share of the overall count. Virginia emerged as the big winner—the California of the Founding era—with 12 out of a total of 91 electoral votes allocated by the Philadelphia Constitution, more than a quarter of the 46 needed to win an election in the first round. After the 1800 census, Wilson’s free state of Pennsylvania had 10% more free persons than Virginia, but got 20% fewer electoral votes. Perversely, the more slaves Virginia (or any other slave state) bought or bred, the more electoral votes it would receive. Were a slave state to free any blacks who then moved North, the state could actually lose electoral votes. If the system’s pro-slavery tilt was not overwhelmingly obvious when the Constitution was ratified, it quickly became so. For 32 of the Constitution’s first 36 years, a white slaveholding Virginian occupied the presidency.”[55] 

·     Inspired by the Haitian revolution of slaves, slaves in Louisiana started a short-lived rebellion in 1811, led by Charles Deslondes. A group of several hundred attacked plantation and killed the masters/owners. Within 48 hours, they were defeated by militia and federal troops. Many were decapitated, and their heads placed on fence posts. One naval officer wrote, “They were brung here for the sake of their heads, which decorate our levee, all the way up the coast. I am told they look like crows sitting on long poles.” The leader, Deslondes, had his hands chopped off before he was burned to death on top of a bale of straw.[56]

·     The American Colonization Society (ACS), founded in 1816 by Presbyterian minister Robert Finley, sought to send freed slaves back to Africa as an alternative to emancipation. “Could they be sent to Africa, a three-fold benefit would arise,” the first reason being, We should be cleared of them…” The ACS founded Liberia for this reason.[57]

·     In 1817, the African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in Charleston. In 1818, the city shut it down out of fear of black people congregating and potentially planning insurrection.  

·     Congress passes the Civilization Act of 1819 to assimilate Native Americans. This law provided U.S. government funds to subsidize Protestant missionary educators in order to convert Native Americans to Christianity. One aspect of this was the schools mentioned previously, and which will make an appearance again.

·     David Walker (1796-1830), black abolitionist and son of a slave, wrote: ”But Christian Americans not only hinder their fellow creatures, the Africans, but thousands of them will absolutely beat a colored person nearly to death, if they catch him on his knees, supplicating the throne of grace….Yes, I have known small collections of colored people to have convened together for no other purpose than to worship God Almighty, in spirit and in truth, to the best of their knowledge; when tyrants, calling themselves patrols would burst in upon them and drag them out and commence beating them as they would rattle-snakes—many of whom, they would beat so unmercifully, that they would hardly be able to crawl for weeks and sometimes for months.”[58] It is important to note that this was not all Christians. But it was certainly some. 

·     In 1823, the Supreme Court ruled (Johnson vs. M’Intosh) that, under the Doctrine of Discovery, “when European, Christian nations discovered new lands, the discovering country automatically gained sovereign and property rights over the lands of non-Christians, non-European peoples, even though, obviously, the native peoples already owned, occupied and used these lands.” [59] When Georgia tried to take all the Cherokee land within their state, the Cherokees resisted; as a result, they were accused of attempting to establish a new and separate government.

      In the 1820s, Irish laborers working alongside black workers formed a bond to the point of the Irish advocating for abolition. This would not last. 

·     In 1829, Georgia prohibited teaching blacks to read. Those who broke the law were subject to fines and/or imprisonment. 

1830: Congress passes Indian Removal Act, legalizing removal of all Indians east of the Mississippi River to lands west of the river.

·     Also in the 1830s, National Negro Conventions began in the North. These were instrumental in encouraging abolitionist’s responses to slavery, such as the Underground Railroad.

·     In 1832, Alabama and Virginia passed laws prohibiting whites from teaching blacks to read or write, with punishments including floggings.

·     In 1833, Georgia passed laws prohibiting blacks from working in jobs involving reading or writing; those who taught blacks to do so were punished by fines and whippings.

·     Throughout the 1830s and '40s, white entertainer Thomas Dartmouth Rice (1808-1860) performed a black-face popular song-and-dance act supposedly modeled after a slave he overhead singing. He named the character Jim Crow.[60]

·      In 1837, Michigan abolished slavery. 

       In 1838, Michigan built its first state prison in Jackson. 

       By 1843, prisoners were working for private contractors with no pay. This anticipates the “indentured servitude by incarceration” that will follow the Emancipation Proclamation. 

   “J. Marion Sims, known as the ‘father of modern gynecology,’ contributed revolutionary tools and techniques to the medical field, like the modern-day speculum and the Sims position. His breakthroughs emerged from experiments on enslaved Black women without the use of anesthesia (which he used on his white patients)…  between 1846 and 1849, Sims operated on at least 10 enslaved women without anesthesia. One enslaved woman, Anarcha, endured at least 30 painful surgeries.” 

·     The 1840 Census concluded that free blacks were 11 times more likely to be mentally ill than enslaved blacks. The census takers used figures that were “specious” or “invented” and as such helped them reach a conclusion that was the exact opposite of the evidence.[61] The census was never formally corrected.

·     The Trail of Tears moved 60,000 Native Americans between 1830 and 1850 from their homes in what was known as the Indian removal. Thousands died before reaching their destinations or shortly after from disease.[62] This is only the most notorious of many similar events.[63]

In Prigg vs Pennsylvania (1842), the Supreme Court ruled that states could decline cooperation with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793. This was good news. It would not last. 

·     In 1846, the Episcopalian church ruled that no “colored congregation [will] be admitted into union with this Convention, so as to entitle them to representation… They are socially degraded, and are not regarded as proper associates for the class of person who attend our Convention.”

·     In 1847, Missouri passed a law forbidding any attempt to help slaves achieve literacy. Also in 1847, some of Martha Washington’s slaves quarried the red sandstone that went into building the Smithsonian.

·     One result of the California gold rush in 1848 was that, as 300,000 new people flooded California, the Native American population plummeted from 150,000 to 30,000 over 30 years. In places like Shasta City, Marysville and Honey Lake in 1851, you could have received $5 for each Indian head turned in. Struggling miners became bounty hunters, sometimes showing up with a dozen heads at a time. When there was no local bounty, freelancers would often get paid by the state.[64]

·     In 1850, California passed the Indian Indenture Act, under which people were allowed to enslave Indian adults and children. In the late 1800s, more than 4,000 Native American children were sold into slavery at prices ranging from $60 to $200.[65]

·     Also in 1850, Congress passed an even more restrictive Fugitive Slave Act, which overturned the Prigg decision in 1842.

      “Passed in 1850, the state’s disingenuously titled Act for the Government and Protection of Indians legalized a range of unfree-labor practices. Under the law, Anglo and Hispanic heads of household could seize Native children from their families and use them as unpaid servants until they reached adulthood—or died. A petitioner merely had to bring a child’s “friend” before the court, have the friend corroborate that the parents were unfit to raise the child, and then claim legal guardianship for themselves. Who qualified as a friend was left to the discretion of the court. Unsurprisingly, the law encouraged rampant kidnapping. Slave raiders descended on Native communities, murdered the adults, and auctioned their orphans to California colonists. Because California Indians were prohibited from testifying against white people in court, such attacks went unpunished. Roughly 20,000 California Indians were held in various states of bondage throughout the antebellum era. Thousands more could be found in the neighboring territories of Utah and New Mexico.”  ("What Slavery Looked Like In The West," The Atlantic)

·      “About 40,000 Chinese immigrants arrived in the 1850s to mine for gold, and in the decade that followed, thousands more came to work on railroads. The Chinese and Japanese populations (few whites bothered to differentiate between the two) farmed, fished, mined, and worked as domestic labor throughout the century even while enduring brutal mistreatment and discrimination by Americans and European immigrants. ‘In many districts of the vast Pacific coast, so strong is the wild, free love of justice in the hearts of the people,’ wrote Mark Twain in a bitter 1870 article, ‘that whenever any secret and mysterious crime is committed, they say, “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall,” and go straightway and [hang] a Chinaman…’ ‘On average,’ writes Iris Chang in The Chinese in America: A Narrative History, ‘three laborers perished for every two miles of track laid. … Twenty thousand pounds of their bones [were] shipped [back] to China.’”[66] 

·     Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the second best-selling book of the 19th century (second to the Bible). An apocryphal story states that Abraham Lincoln, said, on meeting Stowe, "So this is the little lady who started [the Civil War].

·     When the Supreme Court ruled against Dred Scott (1857), a slave who sued for his freedom, Judge Roger Taney wrote that black people were of “an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race,” and “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

      An 1858 medical journal article by Savannah Medical College professor Juriah Harriss noted that “the ability to accurately determine the market value of Black bodies was one of the key professional competencies needed by southern doctors.” 

·     In 1859, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was founded by slaveholding members[67] of the Southern Baptist Convention.[68] “The founding fathers of this school were deeply involved in slavery and deeply complicit in the defense of slavery,” Albert Mohler acknowledged recently.[69]  The SBC recently issued a thorough apology, though some lingering issues remain.[70]

      Charles Spurgeon hated slavery - and he was hated in the South for it. 

By the mid-1800s, post-Second Great Awakening evangelicalism had established a significant focus on evangelism both near and far. This increasingly led to not only the preaching of the gospel, but also to political engagement for social justice and moral reform for Native Americans and slaves. A number of evangelical colleges rose up, including Oberlin College in Ohio (at which evangelist Charles Finney was a professor). Oberlin was unusually progressive in that it was both coed and multi-ethnic. Students there advocated strongly for the United States to keep its treaties with Native Americans; it was even a stopover for escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad.

·     In 1860, the value of the slaves was “roughly three times greater than the total amount invested in banks… equal to about seven times the total value of all currency in circulation in the country, three times the value of the entire livestock population, twelve times the value of the entire U.S. cotton crop and forty-eight times the total expenditure of the federal government that year.”[71]

·     Between 1831 and 1865, two of the predecessor banks for JP Morgan Chase – Citizens Bank and Canal Bank in Louisiana – accepted approximately 13,000 enslaved individuals as collateral on loans and took ownership of approximately 1,250 of them when the plantation owners defaulted on their loans.” 

      1861 - 1865: Civil War. 620,000 -750,000 die (2% -2.5% of the population) over the issue of slavery. If this was a “states’ rights” war, it was about the right to own slaves.[72]  "When eleven Southern states seceded from the Union to form the Confederate States of America, sparking the Civil War in 1861, they made no secret of their ultimate aim: to preserve the institution of slavery. As Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens explained, the ideological 'cornerstone' of the new nation they sought to form was that 'the negro is not equal to the white man' and 'slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and moral condition.'”In his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln expressed the hope that “this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom.”

·     On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln (R) issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed enslaved people in the Confederate states.[73] The 13th Amendment officially ended slavery in 1865. Frederick Douglass said at this time, “The Republican Party is the ship; all else is the sea.” I am noting party affiliation because there will be a seismic shift over time. 

      By the time slavery ended in 1865, more than 1 million enslaved people had been forcibly moved across state lines in their own country; hundreds of thousands more had been bought and sold within individual states.

      The Thirteenth Amendment (officially) brought freedom to African Americans, but not to Indigenous people in large parts of the West. Two years after the Civil War, Indian captives...could still be found in an estimated 10 percent of all New Mexican households; Native people in the state continued to work against their will for decades to come. A Navajo captive named Deluvina, for example, served Lucien Maxwell’s family into the 1930s. ("What Slavery Looked Like In The West," The Atlantic)

Part Two - Emancipation To the Great Migration: Jim Crow, Reconstruction And Sundown Towns


[1] Matthew 5:1; 9:36, for example

[2] Mark 10

[3] Matthew 9

[4] John 8:1-11

[5] Matthew 11: 16-19 & John 8: 1-11

[6] Luke 19

[7] John 4

[8] Hebrews 4:15  “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize (literally, “to have a fellow feeling with” in both Strong’s and the NAS Exhaustive Concordance; Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says “to be affected with the same feeling as another”) with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin.” 

[9] “Able To Sympathize,” Gentle And Lowly, Dane Ortlund

[10] Isaiah 53:3

[11] “The Heart Of Action,” Gentle And Lowly, Dane Ortlund

[12] Researcher Brooke Hempell, quoted in the introduction of The Myth Of Equality, by Ken Wytsma.

[13] Alister McGrath, an atheist who became a Christian, has noted that Christianity flourishes in nations that have had terrible atheist leadership…and atheism flourishes in nations where the church has a terrible track record. People don’t just leave a worldview because another one is nice. They leave because they think another one is better. 

[14] Jemar Tisby, in The Color Of Compromise

[15] 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

[16] “His Heart In Action,” Gentle And Lowly, Dane Ortlund

[17] The Myth Of Equality: Uncovering The Roots Of Injustice And Privilege

[18] See the chapter “The Complex Trauma Of The American Story” in Unsettling Truths, by Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah. 

[19] The Bible is clear that there is a legacy of sin that gets passed down (Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:7; Deuteronomy 5:9), and I think that impact is not only in how the descendants of the perpetrators are influenced but in how the descendants of victims are as well. And yet Ezekiel is clear that, when we are committed to righteousness, our history is not our destiny any more than our ancestors’ history is our destiny (Ezekiel 18:19-20)

[21] “Not seeing skin color is a form of not seeing reality.” Ken Wytsma, The Myth of Equality. 

[22] The early Church had its own divide: Jew and Gentile.  Paul reminded them that now through Christ, “You who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (2:13-14).

[23] By the close of the Indian Wars, fewer than 238,000 First Nation people remained from the original 5 -15 million living in North America when Columbus arrived in 1492.

[24] “Black Women’s Labor,” Brenda Stevenson, Four Hundred Souls

[26] “Bacon’s Rebellion, Heather McGhee, Four Hundred Souls

[28] “The Germantown Petition Against Slavery,” Christopher Lebron, Four Hundred Souls

[29] People becoming private property on the same level as livestock.

[30] Jamar Tisby, The Color of Compromise

[33] “The Virginia Slave Codes,” Kai Wright, Four Hundred Souls

[34] Ibid

[35] The Sum Of Us, by Heather McGhee

[36] “The Revolt In New York,” Herb Boyd, Four Hundred Souls

[37] He also converted and inspired key African-American evangelical leaders, including Olaudah Equiano and Phillis Wheatley – thus highlighting the inconsistent tension.

[39] “Race And The Enlightenment,” Dorothy Roberts, Four Hundred Souls

[40] “Slave Religion And Manifest Destiny,” America’s Religious History, Thomas Kidd.

[41] Interestingly, a ground-swell of southern preachers in opposition to slavery found that they were simply dismissed or not paid by local congregations. In this sense, the broader colonial culture dictated the ethics of preachers, rather than the other way round.

[44] Ibid

[46] According to the US Census Bureau. Even by the most minimal calculations about how long slavery lasted, African-Americans have been free in this country for less time than they were enslaved.

[48] Still, remarkably, one in every seven urban African American families in the upper South managed to acquire land by the eve of the Civil War when local areas were more accommodating.

[49] “Debunking the Mythic Origin of the Second Amendment,” Jonathan Jacobs. https://medium.com/the-new-leader/debunking-the-mythic-origin-of-the-second-amendment-bfe06dc06946

How Slave Owners Dictated the Language of the 2nd Amendment,” Nicolaus Mills, https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-slave-owners-dictated-the-language-of-the-2nd-amendment

“Slave-Patrols And The Second Amendment: How Fears Of Abolition Empowered The Idea Of An Armed Militia,” Milwaukee Independent, http://www.milwaukeeindependent.com/syndicated/slave-patrols-and-the-second-amendment-how-fears-of-abolition-empowered-an-armed-militia/

[52] “The Slavery Controversy and the Civil War,” America’s Religious History, Thomas Kidd

[53] “Higher Education,” Craig Steven Wilder, Four Hundred Souls.

[54] https://indiancountrytoday.com/archive/thomas-jefferson-architect-of-indian-removal-policy. This may have been hyperbolic language, aka “Kill the Indian and save the man.”

[55] “The Troubling Reason The Electoral College Exists.” TIME magazine. https://time.com/4558510/electoral-college-history-slavery/

[56] “The Louisiana Rebellion,” Clint Smith, Four Hundred Souls

[57] Abraham Lincoln thought it was a good idea to send freed slaves to Liberia or Haiti. In 1862 he said to a black audience: “You and we are different races—we have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think. Your race suffers very greatly, many of them, by living among us; while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side.

[58] African American Readings of Paul, Lisa M. Bowens

[59] Unsettling Truths, Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah

[61] “James McCune Smith, M.D.” by Harriet Washington, Four Hundred Souls

[62] Notably, the Supreme Court under John Marshall upheld the Cherokee’s case against the State of Georgia which had initiated the removal process. President Jackson said, “(Chief Justice) Marshall has made his decision, let him enforce it.” This is perhaps the most flagrant violation of the Constitution ever made by a president. Approximately ¼ of the removed Cherokee died on the Trail of Tears. Other tribes were also removed, but the Cherokee with their favorable Supreme Court ruling and unjust removal were particularly heart-breaking. 

[63] Here’s another one. The 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, which caused outrage in its own time, has been called genocide. Colonel John Chivington led a 700-man force of Colorado Territory militia in a massacre of 70–163  peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho, about two-thirds of whom were women, children, and infants. Chivington and his men took scalps and other body parts as trophies, including human fetuses and male and female genitalia.[122] In defense of his actions Chivington stated, “Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians! ... I have come to kill Indians, and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God's heaven to kill Indians. ... Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide_of_indigenous_peoples#Indian_Removal_and_the_Trail_of_TearsThere were worse ones. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/search-site-worst-indian-massacre-us-history-180959091/

[64] Unsettling Truths, Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah

[65] Ibid.

[66] “The 1619 Project: An Autopsy,” CATO Institute, https://www.cato.org/commentary/1619-project-autopsy

[68] They broke away from northern Baptists in 1845 over the issue of slavery.

[70] “We lament and repudiate historic acts of evil such as slavery from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest, and we recognize that the racism which yet plagues our culture today is inextricably tied to the past.”

[73]  It did not apply to the roughly 425,000 enslaved people living in Tennessee, Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri, and Maryland because they had not seceded or were occupied by Union soldiers. This was a tactical move – Lincoln did not want those states to join the Confederacy – but it must have been a blow to the enslaved.

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