Slavery Essay Examples

Slavery essays

As pressure built for the Abolitionist cause, Christians in the Antebellum South were forced to take a moral stand for or against slavery. The arguments made by William Buck and James Pendleton provide a snapshot into the debate that eventually boiled over into civil war. This paper will argue that Buck and Pendleton reached divergent conclusions about the morality of slavery because they began with conflicting presuppositions about the nature of the debate and handled the context of Scripture differently. This will be accomplished by looking at the arguments of each man related to slavery’s effect on the holiness and happiness of men, its treatment in the Bible, and the significance of abuse in the American system.  The paper will conclude by comparing Buck and Pendleton’s presuppositions and their handling of biblical context. The controversial subject of historical slavery is discussed in many slavery essays and research papers. 

Race and Class in the Colonial Bahamas
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Diane Gail North-Saunders is a Bahamian historian, archivist who is a pioneer of research on Bahamian history. Along with Race and Class in the Colonial Bahamas, 1880–1960, Saunders has also authored Historic Bahamas and Islanders in the Stream: A History of the Bahamian People about Bahamian history. Saunders’ Expository text Race and Class in the Colonial Bahamas, 1880–1960 prominently features the non-white majority who have been overlooked for generations. Here, Saunders unravels a complex interrelationship of race, class, color, and…...
New EnglandSlavery
Changing of Law during Colonial Era
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During the Colonial Time period many of the earlier laws were changed; however, the first thought process to help the poor remained in order. For example, a widow with children would still be able to get help from her Parish when and if she also helped herself. The video, Colonial America Part 1, mentioned that at times widows were sent to live with a new family every two weeks. Widows that were able-bodied had to work to give for their…...
New EnglandSlaveryUsa
An Introduction to the History of Phillis Wheatley
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Phillis Wheatley was brought from Africa to America to be put into slavery. She was more privileged than other slaves because her owners taught her to read and write. Showing early signs of remarkable intelligence, her owners, the Wheatleys, fostered her talent by tutoring her regularly. Phillis took to writing poetry, which led her to become the first black woman poet in the United States. She was a genius of her time. Her poems mainly focus on the themes of…...
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The Role of Slavery in Washington D.C.’s History
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The rousing, dedicated speeches have stopped for no longer do individuals defend others rights over their property." Few people today are ready to admit they look favorably upon African slavery in the Americas in our not too distant past. The arguments to not just maintain slavery within their borders, but nevertheless to expand the institution into neighboring states has thankfully come to a close. No longer will armies of white men fight to defend the wealthy's dominion over the black…...
SlaveryUnderground Railroad
Slavery in the Land of the Free Analysis
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Take a second and image yourself or your family member or your friends or someone that you know being force to something against their will , someone being a slaves, well just as much it may sound unimaginable yes but the truth is even some peoples haven’t hear of it , there are actually peoples who lives that reality , Modern-day slavery is prevalent in American society in many invisible forms. Usually, when we hear the word slavery we directly…...
Frederick DouglassSlavery
The Story of Courage and Triumph From Three African Slaves
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The essence of slavery results in the concept of a group of people owning another group as property. Throughout history, the specific details and ramifications of slavery have changed but many experiences share many similarities. That is not to say every or any experience was the same, but many themes remain prevalent throughout time periods. It is essential to note the similarities and differences of separate experience to understand the notions of slavery in America. Three slaves who managed to…...
Different Social System in Literature
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Even though love is a universal language, it has always been a struggle due to societal norms. Social systems have affected love in many different ways, good and bad, throughout time and are shown in many different works of art, such as poems, stories, etc. The three works of art that reflect the love and relationships through, and sometimes in spite of, social systems are, The King and The Slave Girl, Shakuntala, and The Tale of Genji. The King and…...
LiteratureSlavery And FreedomSocial Class
The Declaration of Independence and Slavery
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Since 1775, more than one million Africans, mostly slaves, have lived in 13 colonies. In the early 18th century, a number of new ministers of Consulate and conscientious objectors, such as George Keith and John Woolman, questioned the morality of slavery, but were largely ignored. But in 1760, as settlers began to speak out against the oppression of oppression, more and more Americans began to acknowledge that there was a clear conflict between the protection and freedom of slave owners.…...
Abigail AdamsSlaveryThe Declaration Of Independence
Slavery in the United States of America
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Thesis: The reaction to the decision varied by region and political party, but the shockwaves created a strong opposition in which it was criticized by northerners, Republicans and abolitionists as they refuse to accept the decision by a Court they felt was dominated by “Southern fire eaters”. The institution of slavery had it’s grasp tightly on the United States till the establishment of the 13th amendment abolished it in 1865. Within the United States, the states were divided into two…...
SlaverySlavery And Freedom
Topic of Slavery in Novel ‘Beloved’
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The history of America has always involved the horrific topic of slavery. It is embedded in the textbooks of young children for the education of American history, which includes the tragic institution of slavery. The South revolved around slavery during the early development of the country in the 1800’s. The southern states were the ringleaders and spokespeople for slavery while the northern and western states were considered free states. Beloved is a novel set in Cincinnati, Ohio circa 1873 after…...
Beloved By Toni MorrisonNovelsSlavery
Modern Slavery: The Cycle Continues
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People assume that society has come a long way since the abolishment of slavery in the United States in the year eighteen sixty-five. The slavery that millions of people experience today proves that theory to be false. Modern slavery has become a major problem in society today. It is a worldwide issue by which race and ethnicity are not a major factor in the selection of victims. In fact, women and children are the primarily source of victims for the…...
Modern SlaverySlaverySlavery And Freedom
Global Estimates of Modern Slavery
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Most of society is under the impression that slavery is a custom of the past. Even though slavery has lessened over the last hundred years, it is still one of the largest industries nowadays. Slavery originally started in 1619 and was abolished by Congress in 1865. Although its abolishment somewhat helped the conditions, slave owners found several ways to continue slavery. Nowadays, many industries use modern slavery in different forms from before, but still in the same context. Most of…...
Modern SlaverySlaverySlavery And Freedom
History of Atlantic Slave Trade
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In the ancient middle, trade helped the people who lived there in many ways. One way that it helped the people was that it was a good way to flow goods. This is of trade is called cosmopolitan, since there were widely spread cultures, lifestyles, and ideas. All the money they made in the middle east came from the busy trade routes going through the region. The metal was a famous item to trade since it created many items that…...
Atlantic Slave TradeSlavery
Transatlantic Slave Trade is a Trauma for the African American
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Introduction The following paper will be about the transatlantic slave trade and how it is still a trauma for the African American community today. To explain this there will be special attention towards the different stages of this trauma and how it developed. Furthermore, there will be a discussion of the current political climate and how it is affected by events that happened more than 150 years ago. It all to underline the theses, that those events and slavery it…...
Atlantic Slave TradeSlaverySlavery In America
Abolish Slavery in America
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Today, I want to share not only about my dream but also about the whole community of color people, to make it come true. Let me mention this first, Thomas Jefferson did write, “All men are created equal their Creator endows them with certain inalienable Rights among these are Life, Liberty, and pursuit of Happiness...” It was in the Declaration of Independence of the United States in 1776. It means everyone on earth has the right to life and freedom…...
Modern SlaverySlavery In AmericaThe Declaration Of Independence
Anti-Slavery in United States
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Our great nation has come to a crossroads, fellow citizens. Our destinies shall lay in the grasp of our hands, and I call upon thee to make the right decision. The righteous path, upon which this country was built - must be the only path which we take, for the sake of our children, and for our country. For the path of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness cannot be reached with the existence of slavery. How can a…...
Modern SlaverySlavery In AmericaThe Declaration Of Independence
Human Trafficking or Modern Slavery Nowadays
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Human trafficking tears apart our society and makes the world a worse place. As Google defines it, human trafficking is “the action or practice of illegally transporting people from one country or area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labor or sexual exploitation.” But human trafficking is bigger than a definition. Human trafficking affects everybody and everything. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defines human trafficking as “the acquisition of people by improper means such as…...
Human TraffickingModern Slavery
The Enigma of Emily Grierson
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“A Rose for Emily”, a short story by William Faulkner, is one of the most enduring examples of literature of the early twentieth century. The story has been written through the perspective of a first-person narrator and it is centered on a main character by the name Emily Grierson. Faulkner’s expert usage of a combination of symbolism and imagery manages to capture and hold the attention of readers by portraying Emily as a rather mysterious and grotesque figure. “A Rose…...
A Rose For EmilyCharacterCharacter And IntegritySlaveryThomas JeffersonYear of Wonders
The Effects of Slavery on Motherhood
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Slavery is a system that diminishes the dignity of the black people and the inherent effects of it in their lives take a great toll on their personal well-being as well as their position in society. It disfigures people from every aspect and has sucked them into this black hole of total desperation, depravity, and hopelessness. In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, the story is set in a historical time where slavery is a way of life and black people do not…...
Feminism in Harriet Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl were a powerful novel that was used as a huge icon in favor of feminism where feminism was not seen as a movement yet. It caused a lot of negative attention to the author, Harriet Jacobs in 1861. This narrative of her life established that of the many difficulties that came with being a slave in a time where slavery was widely accepted. She was a very young woman who was unfortunately…...
FeminismIncidents in the Life of a Slave GirlSlavery
Summary of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
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Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is a novel written by Harriet Jacobs, a woman who was born into slavery in 1813 near Edenton, North Carolina. This book is one of the many slave narratives written in early African-American literature. These types of narratives were a dominant literary factor used in the early works of African-American literature. The two main themes being portrayed throughout the narrative are the coming together of African and American cultures and the corrupting…...
Incidents in the Life of a Slave GirlSlavery
Moral Experience in Harriet Jacobs’s “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl”
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The source that I chose was Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, the Narrative of Harriet Jacobs. This document depicts the many trials that Harriet endured in her life as a slave in hopes that she might bring to light the horrible pit of abomination and sin that slavery is. She laces the story with vivid details of sexual abuse and mistreatment that purely rapture the reader in either absolute shock or utter horror. The very fact that…...
AbuseExperienceIncidents in the Life of a Slave GirlMoralMoralityOroonoko
Desiree’s Baby-Racism
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The story rotates around the late 1800s, which was an emotional time for individuals shortly after the abolishment of slavery. Feelings toward African Americans had not totally disappeared; these African Americans were held at a low class in the public eye during this timeframe. In Desiree's Baby, Desiree's better half, Armand, was a well-off privileged person who possessed a huge estate in Louisiana. Armand depicts a significant number of similar feelings and thoughts of a typical plantation owner during the…...
Desiree's BabyRacismSlavery
Learning to Read and Write: Frederick Douglass’s Journey to Freedom
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In “Learning to Read” Frederick Douglass recounts how he came to read and write under internal and external challenges. Douglass also shows the effect that reading and writing bestowed upon him. By recounting his difficult self-educating experience, Douglass exposes how the slavery system ruins both the slaves and slaveholders. Not only does slavery destroy the dignity and right that slaves could access to knowledge it also takes away the conscience of the slaveholders. In “Learning to Read” Frederick Douglass recounts…...
Frederick DouglassFreedomJourneyLearningSlavery
Frederick Douglass And His Path Towards Learning To Read And Write
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In the journal “Learning to Read and Write” Frederick Douglass explains the different challenges it was for a slave that wanted to learn in what way to read and write. He describes the environment in which he lived, and how it was like for a slave to learn how to read and write. His masters did not like for Douglass to get an education, because then he would become educated and he would not be of worth to them. In…...
Frederick DouglassLearningLiteracySlavery
The American Civil War and the Problem of Inevitability
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The Civil War was mainly based on the different ideological beliefs of slavery between the North and the South. Almost all sectional conflicts such as the Nullification Crisis and Kansas-Nebraska Act revolved around slavery issues, which can be traced back to the earliest years of American colonization. With a Southern agrarian economy in contrast to a Northern industrial economy, the South felt threatened and felt that slavery was the only stable force that kept its economy grounded. Furthermore, prominent Southern…...
AmericaCivil WarPoliticsSlaveryWar
The American Civil War Causes In Perspectives by Stanley Harrold and Michael S. Green
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The American Civil War (1861) was a war between the North (the Unionists) and the South (the Confederates) who disagreed on the use of Slavery. The North wanted the abolishment of slaves as it clashed with their desire for America to become industrialized whilst the South needed slaves to maintain their agricultural economy. There were a plethora of reasons as to why this war occurred from the insatiability of the political foundations dating back to the Constitutional Convention (1787) to…...
AmericaCivil WarGovernmentManifest DestinySlaveryWar
The Origins and Outbreak of the Civil War
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When thinking about such a big war, the civil war was a commonly known one. Which has multiple stories behind the many different reasons for the onset of the Civil War. In 1619 the British colony of Jamestown and Virginia began slavery in America. African Americans were slaves in what became the United States by the early 17th century. Throughout the 17th century, European North American settlers turned to African slavery as a cheaper, more plentiful source of labor than…...
Civil WarGovernmentJusticeSlavery
What Caused The American Civil War?
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What started the Civil War? Historians debate whether the Missouri Controversy, the Nullification Crisis, the Annexation of Texas, the Compromise of 1850, or the Kansas-Nebraska Act sparked the Civil War. Many agree that The Compromise of 1850 is the primary event that led to the war. This event was a set of laws, passed in the middle of fierce wrangling between groups who either favored slavery or those who opposed it, that attempted to give something to both sides. These…...
AmericaCivil WarGovernmentJusticeSlavery
Nationalism and Sectionalism During The War of 1812
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The War of 1812 was a war fought from 1812 to 1816 between Britain and the United States commonly ascribed to the British impressment of American sailors and the British incitement of Indian tribes. Though there was no clear winner, there was also no apparent loser. To some Americans, this “victory” served as a rallying point and ignited nationalism within them, and thus, the period after the War of 1812 was labeled “the Era of Good Feelings”; however, as during…...
GovernmentNationalismSlaveryThomas JeffersonWarWar of 1812
Power of Education: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
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In the excerpt of learning to read and write, Frederick Douglass describes the struggles he faced to read and write and the power of knowledge, which he used to escape from slavery. He describes the situations he had gone through for being an African American slave. His writings show is the cruelty of the slaveholders towards their slaves and the inhuman conditions they have faced. Douglass describes that the slaveholders were cold-hearted towards the slaves. All at once, Douglass needed…...
EducationFrederick DouglassNarrative Life Of Frederick DouglassPowerSlavery
Slavery in Utopia
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Slavery in Utopia is not a question of race, ethnicity, or belief. It is a question of moral behavior. Only criminals can become slaves, and the children of slaves are born free. The slavery that exists in Utopia does not, then, contain all of the moral repugnance we rightfully associate with slavery. The fact that slavery could be conceived of as existing even within a fictional, ideal society is a sign that ideal societies are products of their times, subject…...
BeliefDivorceEuthanasiaRace and EthnicitySlaveryUtopia
Frederick Douglass and Other Slave Narratives
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In Douglass’s rhetorical slave narrative, Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, Douglass uses his story to help inspire people to fight the wrongs of slavery. Douglass was born into slavery and his mother died when he was just ten years old. Douglass never had the fortune to meet his father or to know the date of his birth. However, Douglass proved to be a force to be reckoned with when it came to the topic of slavery. While in…...
Frederick DouglassSlavery
Life and Times of Frederick Douglass
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First and foremost, Frederick Douglass had to endure the horrific treatment of slaves for throughout his childhood. In the beginning of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Douglass illustrates tragic lives of black slaves in the 19th century. Slaves had to work hard all year round, but their living conditions were horrible. Slaves did not have beds. They usually laid down on a cold and damp floor together and covered each other to keep warm…...
Frederick DouglassNarrative Life Of Frederick DouglassSlaveryTime
Frederick Douglass’s Rhetorical Legacy
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Written in 1845, the “Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass” is a book written in autobiographical style by Frederick Douglass in which he recounts his own experiences as a slave in Baltimore, bringing several examples of violence and brutality that his enslaved peers and he suffered. Through the use of rhetoric and detailed imagery, Douglass articulates his remembrances of the cruelty faced by the slaves as a way to denounce how slavery was an unnatural societal practice, and to…...
Frederick DouglassSlaveryViolence
Summary of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
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In the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass tells his life story. He depicts how slave owners reduced humans to slaves and describe how he himself reasserted his humanity. During the 17th and 18th century slavery was a system in which principles of poverty law were applied to people allowing individuals to own, buy, and sell other people as a form of property. It is also a system in which slaves are unable to withdraw that being they…...
Frederick DouglassHuman rightsNarrative Life Of Frederick DouglassSlavery
Analysis of Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire
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Seizing land over land and conquering the area for centuries, the Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire were home for a mass number of individuals. Roman Empire, which was established by Augustus, was controlled from 27 B.C. to 476 A.D., while the Ottoman Empire, which was conquered by Osman I, was dominated from 1299 A.D. to 1923 A.D. Living in a separate era in a different location with distinct cultures and customs, these two empires do show differences but also…...
ChristianityRoman empireSlavery
America Was Not Destined to Move West
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America used Manifest Destiny as a way to justify genocide with the fact that they had more land. To the people who supported Manifest Destiny, everything was all right as long as they had more land. During the Indian Removal Act, the white settlers took land that was rightfully the Native Americans. The Native Americans then took a trail, nicknamed The Trail of Tears. On The Trail of Tears, twenty-five percent of the Indians who took the trail passed away.…...
AmericaIndian Removal ActManifest DestinySlaveryTrail of Tears
Reconstruction Era: Free But Not Equal
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The Reconstruction era was a time of enormous political complications with expansive results. We learn that it was the end of the suffering of an entire people. So much was promised to African Americans after the civil war. For formerly enslaved people, freedom meant an end to the whip, to the sale of family members, and to white masters. The promise of freedom held out the hope of self-determination, educational opportunities, and full rights of citizenship. But it was not…...
Human rightsJusticeReconstructionSlavery
Chesapeake and Southern Colonies
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The New England and Chesapeake Bay colonies are quite different religiously, economically, politically, and socially. The motives for establishing the two colonies were for substantially different reasons. The Chesapeake Bay colonies were established for economic reasons. The motivation for the establishment of the New England colonies was the concept of religious freedom. The New England and Chesapeake Bay Colonies prioritize religion distinctively. In the New England colonies, religion was their first priority. In document 1, John Winthrop talks about unity…...
AmericaColonizationEnglandEnglishNew EnglandSlavery
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Buck’s Arguments For Slavery 

The bedrock of Buck’s argument for the sinlessness of ‘slavery in the abstract’ is that ‘God approves of that system of things which, under the circumstances, is best calculated to promote the holiness and happiness of men’ (Buck, 5). He provides various proofs to show that, in its ideal state, slavery was designed to promote the holiness and happiness of the slaves. He argues that slavery was introduced to Abraham as a system to protect ‘the helpless and oppressed’ (Buck, 6). This system was designed by God to ‘benefit the slaves and not Abraham’ (Buck, 10). Likewise, Buck argues that American ‘slavery has been less beneficial to the whites than the blacks’ (Buck, 27). This balance of benefit is accomplished because slavery incentivizes masters to care for the disenfranchised instead of dismissing them as someone else’s problem and leaving them to starve. By Buck’s assessment, nations and states with slavery have less ‘destitution and suffering’ than those without slavery (Buck, 13).

Buck also argues that the Bible sanctions slavery. He draws this conclusion from biblical accounts indicating that Abraham owned slaves and God’s command to Hagar to return to her mistress (Buck, 9). Since Abraham is held up as an example of moral purity, his status as a slaveholder acts as a divine blessing on the institution. Buck draws a similar lesson from the story of the Gibeonites who were made slaves in Israel instead of being destroyed (Buck, 11). These references are not simply hired servants since hired servants are often distinguished in the text from purchased slaves. Buck argues that it is morally acceptable to own other humans because man-servants and maid-servants are not distinguished in the Decalogue from other ‘articles of property’ (Buck, 10). Since ‘slavery was sanctioned by the law Moses’ then the abstract act of either buying or holding a slave cannot be sin’ (Buck, 21).

Buck admits that slavery ‘has been awfully perverted and abused’ but does not think that the abuses and perversions of slavery reflect the morality of the institution itself (Buck, 12). He argues that condemning slavery for its abuses means we must also condemn marriage because wicked men have perverted it (Buck, 22). Rather, Buck asserts that God is working through the evil intentions of men and turning them for good, just he did when he led Joseph into slavery in Egypt (Buck, 24). Buck sees the ultimate goal of slavery as the improvement of the slaves in preparation for the government-funded liberation and resettlement of qualified slaves in Liberia (Buck, 26). He believes that African slaves are quickly improving and will soon be ready for ‘self-government and national independence’ (Buck, 22). Buck also challenges the idea that all slave traders and slave owners work from sinful motives. Slave trading does not qualify as man-stealing because Africans are first enslaved by their own people through consensual wars of conquest before being brought across the Atlantic (Buck, 16). He also condemns those who purchase slaves for the sole purpose of ‘enriching themselves’ while proposing two other classes of slave traders and owners who work from commendable motives. One class acquires slaves out of a ‘desire to promote their social and moral improvement’ while the other is motivated to ‘instruct them into the knowledge of salvation by Christ Jesus’ (Buck, 17-18). Buck believes that these slave owners will gladly surrender their slaves once they have been ‘sufficiently enlightened to return to Africa and govern themselves’ (Buck, 18).

Pendleton’s Arguments Against Slavery

Pendleton agrees with Buck’s premise that ‘God approves of that system of things which, under the circumstances, is best calculated to promote the holiness and happiness of men’ but argues that slavery ‘does not promote the holiness and happiness’ of either race (Pendleton, 2). This is supported by Buck’s own assessment of the ‘pernicious influence’ slavery has over the ‘moral interests’ of white people and fact that slavery promotes the ignorance of the slaves (Pendleton, 2-3). Attacks on the ‘holiness and happiness of men’ are seen in the fact that state law allows slaveholders to ‘sever the marriage tie’ between slaves, separate slave parents and children, and ‘prevent their slaves from ever learning to read the Bible, or from hearing the Gospel preached’ (Pendleton, 1-2). The American system ‘depends on the ignorance of the enslaved’ which does injury to ‘the immortal mind’ of human being and points to the fact that there is ‘some antagonism between the Bible and slavery’ (Pendleton 8-9).

Pendleton also argues that the Bible does not condone slavery, especially the form of slavery found in the American context. After showing that the word ‘slave’ is never directly used in the Bible, Pendleton enumerate ‘points of material dissimilarity between that system and our system of slavery’ (Pendleton 3). One dissimilarity is Abraham’s willingness to arm his slaves in Genesis 14; something that would never happen in the American context. It is also difficult to reconcile American slavery with Abrahams expectation that a slave would be his heir if he was to die childless (Pendleton 4).

Pendleton also points to the stipulations in the Mosaic law that set Israelite slavery apart from the American context. These stipulations include the penalty of death for anyone guilt of man-stealing, which is how Africans were ‘first introduced into this country,’ and the guarantee of freedom for any servant who suffers serious bodily injury ‘inflicted on him by his master’ (Pendleton 5). The law also forbids ‘the delivery of a runaway servant to his master’ and makes provision for regular worship, rest, and emancipation for slaves (Pendleton, 5). Nevertheless, Pendleton argues that, even if American slavery was similar to Abrahamic slavery, it would still not be morally acceptable. Abraham committed many condemnable acts, including deception and sexual impropriety, which keep him from being used as an absolute moral example (Pendleton 4). The presence of slavery in the Mosaic law is unique to the Jewish context and was to ‘keep the Jews a distinct people’ (Pendleton, 5). The permission to hold slaves is nowhere extended in Scripture to the ‘Gentile nations’ (Pendleton, 5).

Pendleton also points to the abuses found in slavery and its negative effect on all involved as a reason to end it. He asserts that slavery’s ‘perversion is extensive’ in both state laws and the practice American slaveholders (Pendleton, 11). Nearly all slaveholders are seeking their own ‘pecuniary interest, and not the good of the slaves’ to the extent that slavery could not continue without the abuses that are condoned by the law (Pendleton, 8). This point is illustrated by the fact that pro-slavery advocates acknowledge the evils and abuses of slavery but do not want the laws to change to correct them (Pendleton, 11). By trying to justify slavery ‘in the abstract’ without addressing ‘slavery in the concrete’ slavery advocates work to entrench the very the abuses and perversions they decry as evil (Pendleton, 9).

Response to the Slavery Debate 

Buck and Pendleton hold conflicting presuppositions about the nature of the slavery debate. Buck believes that the debate must be centered around the morality of slavery ‘in the abstract.’ This allows Buck to acknowledge abuse and systemic perversion in the American system of slavery but treat those issues as separate and unrelated to the core debate. Pendleton insists that slavery ‘in the concrete’ is what must be evaluated. He deals directly with the realities of slavery, showing that the system itself is corrupt and evil. Both men agree that slavery must ‘promote the holiness and happiness of men’ to be considered ‘morally right’ but Buck’s arguments focus on the morality of a hypothetical ideal while Pendleton dissects the system as it stands. Buck’s focus on an abstraction of slavery, however, is not absolute. He makes several attempts to justify the current practice of slavery, appealing to exaggerated claims about generosity and goodwill of slaveholders. Instead of supporting his theses, the need to make these claims actually undercuts his premise and exposes the disconnect between the morality of slavery in the abstract and morality of the system that actually exists.

Buck and Pendleton also take different approaches to interpret and understand the patriarchs and the applicability of the social and civil laws of Israel. Buck invokes the Mosaic law to justify his position on slavery, but Pendleton effectively shows the weakness of his approach. Buck’s approach to interpreting the Old Testament takes passages out of context and applies them in favor of this position. When citing the Mosaic law, he appropriates the sections that allow slavery but does not advocate conforming state law to reflect the actual Mosaic system, which contains safeguards that promote the well-being of slaves. Pendleton’s approach to the Old Testament law does not try to appropriate it directly but takes into account the law’s unique role in the life of Israel, setting it apart from the surrounding nations as a covenant community. A similar pattern is seen in Buck’s interpretation of the story of the Gibeonites. He interprets their enslavement as a gracious act approved by God but ignores the context of the story, which shows that the actions were actually an ‘ignorant violation of the positive command of God’ (Pendleton 4).

Conclusion: Biblical Arguments on Slavery

This paper showed that Buck and Pendleton reached different conclusions about the morality of slavery because they began with conflicting presuppositions about the nature of the debate and handled the context of Scripture differently. This was accomplished by looking at each man’s arguments about the effect of slavery on the holiness and happiness of men, it’s treatment in the Bible, and the significance of abuse in the American system and concluded by comparing Buck and Pendleton’s presuppositions and their handling of biblical context. Understanding the nature of this debate is important as we seek to interpret and apply Scripture to modern issues and debates.  


FAQ about Slavery

What Caused The American Civil War?
...The Compromise of 1850 is the primary event that kicked off the Civil War. Each of the five acts that make up the Compromise of 1850 did not address whether slavery was to be abolished in all states or not. That really caused unrest within the states...

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