By Ron F. Hale
The American Civil War has gotten bloodier over the last decade!
J. David Hacker, a demographic historian from Binghamton University in New York,
conducted research on newly digitized census data from the 19 th century recalculating
the death toll of the Civil War. The historic death tally has been approximately 620,000
men for over 100 years. Hacker’s new count reaches 750,000 men, and upwards to the
staggering possibility of 850,000 men. 1
Who bears part of the blame for this red river of blood and the lingering costs and
consequences of American slavery?
This article will shed light on those who defended the institution of chattel slavery in
America. Their writings, speeches, and sermons left a traceable trail. If you are a student
of history or theology many of the names on the list will shock you!
How could some of the most sophisticated people in America not see that the sin of
slavery denied the self-evident truth “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?”
Dr. Larry E. Tise is a noted historian, researcher, archivist, author, and professor at East
Carolina University. He has served as State Historic Preservation Officer in both North
Carolina and Pennsylvania. He helped found the National Council on Public History and
the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers. This article leans on his
painstaking research and the writing of his book Proslavery: A History of the Defense of
Slavery, 1701-1840, 1987. He holds two degrees from Duke University and a PhD from
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Based on extensive studies of proslavery books, pamphlets, speeches, biographical
collections 2 , and a quest to discover and explain the racism found in the many defenses
of slavery, Tise judges that most historians have treated proslavery ideology morally
rather than historically 3 . Like finding the tail of a long serpent protruding from a dark
hole, Tise slowly but surely extracts the American ideology of proslavery from its
shadowy history and into the light by studying those who wrote in the defense of
Surprisingly, Tise erases the old myth that proslavery arguments began in the Old South
in the nineteenth century. He shows that beginning in 1701, proslavery ideology was
prevalent during the colonial and revolutionary years – first in New England.
Chapter Six has Tise pinpointing the America defenders of Slavery from 1790-1865. The
length of this article will be extended by his list of 275 proslavery clergymen from the
North and South who wrote, taught, and preached as ideological defenders and
sociopolitical leaders of American slavery. This group represents the elite of both
ministry and American society, some of the most superbly educated, socially aware, and
powerfully stationed in our nation. Almost half of all defenses of slavery published in
America came from these proslavery ministers. 4
Tise discovered that proslavery clergymen came from every state and many European
countries. Men from the North and New England dominated the first generation (born
before 1800) of proslavery clergymen. 5 According to their birth years, he found three
separate cohorts of men: 82 were born before 1800; 87 were born between 1801-1815;
and 93 born between 1816-1839. The first generation reached maturity prior to the rise
of abolitionism; the second group near the peak of the first abolition crisis of the 1830s;
and the latter during the last decade before the Civil War. 6
Of those born overseas: Germany, England, and Ireland loom largest. 7 Massachusetts
produced as many proslavery clergymen writing in the defense of slavery as Georgia. 8
Charleston gave birth to more proslavery preachers than any city in the nation, with
Tise indicates that four Protestant denominations gave our nation the most proslavery
ministers. In fact, 77 percent of them grew up as Presbyterians, Episcopalians,
Congregationals, or Baptists. The author states that, “over one-half (60.2 percent) were
from the three major Calvinist churches.” 10 By far, Presbyterians delivered the most
formal defenses of slavery in America, and published the most writings. 11 Presbyterians
represented one-third of all proslavery clergymen. 12
Sixty percent of all proslavery clergy graduating from an American college or university
received their degrees from schools north of the Mason and Dixon’s Line 13 ; Yale
University educated the most proslavery pastors, with South Carolina College second,
and Princeton University coming in third. 14 Of seminary educated clergy, Princeton
Theological Seminary graduated more men who led in these three areas: formal
defenses of slavery, proslavery writings, and proslavery and war sermons. 15 In an age
when few Americans benefited from extended educational opportunities, proslavery
ministers were among the best educated in American society. 16
As social influencers, proslavery clergymen sat in the editor’s chair of at least 121
separate periodicals or newspapers. 17 By 1861, many proslavery clergymen had moved
to the highest ecclesiastical positions in America; 16 percent were serving at the highest
office in their church, while another 10 percent were in positions of denominational
leadership. Almost 15 percent had assumed faculty or administrative positions at
colleges and universities. More than one-half worked their way into influential city
Before listing the 275 proslavery clergymen, it should be stated that most ministers did
not write in the defense of slavery. It cannot be determined how many held proslavery
convictions and spoke and preached them. Tise is dealing with men who wrote
defending the institution of slavery and its perpetuation on American soil.
An example of ministers who were not “men of their times” or driven by monied
interests were the Sandy Creek Baptists in South Carolina. Their Baptist Association
voted in 1835 to condemn the practice of slavery as inconsistent with the spirit of the
Gospel of Christ and voted to exclude members who would not abandon the practice of
slavery. 19 Many other clergymen never supported slavery and many joined and led the
abolition movement started by the great Christian leader, William Wilberforce in Great
Days before dying, the great Methodist revivalist John Wesley wrote encouraging
William Wilberforce to depend totally on the Lord as he fought to end the slave trade
and the practice of slavery. Wesley called slavery “that execrable villainy, which is the
scandal of religion” and “unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be
worn out by the opposition of men and devils.” 20
Dr. Tise lists those ordained clergymen who had published a book, a pamphlet, or a
periodical article defending slavery as an indefinite perpetuation of servitude. Tise has
no pretension that this list represents all such men. 21
John Bailey Adger
Samuel James Pierce Anderson
James Osgood Andrew
George Dodd Armstrong
Joseph Mayo Atkinson
Isaac Stockton Keith Axson
Rufus William Bailey
Samuel John Baird
Joseph S. Baker
Samuel Davies Baldwin
William Hazzard Barnwell
Otto Sievers Barten
Henry Biddleman Bascom
Archibald John Battle
George Addison Baxter
Daniel Perrin Bestor, Sr.
George Washington Blagden
Albert Taylor Bledsoe
Joseph Luke Blitch
James Pettigru Boyce
William Theophilus Brantly
William Tomlinson Brantly
William Henry Brisbane
Iveson Lewis Brookes
William Gannaway Brownlow
Samuel J. Bryan
William Calmes Buck
John Lansing Burrows
William C. Butler
John Calkins Coit
Moncure Daniel Conway
William Carey Crane
Nathaniel Macon Crawford
Moses Ashley Curtis
Lucious Cuthbert, Jr.
Robert Lewis Dabney
John Leadley Dagg
William Tucker Dickinson Dalzell
William C. Dana
Amos Cooper Dayton
Thomas Lockwood DeVeaux
Andrew Flinn Dickson
David Seth Doggett
Daniel Isaiah Dreher
Thomas Sanford Dunaway
James Alexander Duncan
William Woodward Eells
James Habersham Elliott
Charles Andrews Farley
Benedict Joseph Fenwick
Jesse Babcock Ferguson
Isham Randolph Finley
Theophilus Fisk or Fiske
George Washington Freeman
James Clement Furman
Christopher Edwards Gadsden
Christopher P. Gadsden
John Lafayette Girardeau
Richard S. Gladney
William Henry Green
James K. Gutheim
William T. Hamilton
John F. Hoff
Jonathan M. Hoffmeister
Moses Drury Hoge
William James Hodge
Adam Tunno Holmes
John Henry Hopkins
Samuel Blanchard How
William Bell White Howe
Robert Boyte Crawford Howell
Jeremiah Bell Jeter
Charles Colcock Jones, Sr.
James Ryland Kendrick
Francis Patrick Kenrick
Lender Ker or Kerr
Ulrick Vilhelm Koren
John Michael Krebs
James Sanford Lamar
Peter Laurentius Larsen
Joseph Spry Law
William T. Leacock
Leroy Madison Lee
Andrew Agate Lipscomb
Augutus Baldwin Longstreet
John Chase Lord
William Wilberforce Lord
James Adair Lyon
John B. McFerrin
William Henry McIntosh
James Alphonsus McMaster
Samuel Brown McPheeters
Holland Nimmons McTyeire
Charles Dutton Mallory
Adolphus Williamson Mangum
Basil Manly, Jr.
Basil Manly, Sr.
Auguste Marie Martin
Thomas Francis Meagher
Patrick Hues Mell
Alexander Gardiner Mercer
Maximillian J. Michelbacher
James Warley Miles
Charles Frederic Ernest Minnigerode
James Cake Mitchell (born James
Thomas Vernor Moore
Philip P. Neely
Jacob Aall Ottesen
Benjamin Morgan Palmer
Benjamin Morgan Palmer (nephew of
Thomas Ephraim Peck
Napoleon Joseph Perche
George Foster Pierce
Henry Niles Pierce
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
William Swan Plumer
Edward Albert Pollard
Abner A. Porter
Rufus Kilpatrick Porter
Jehu G. Postell
Nathaniel Alpheus Pratt
William Otis Prentiss
Herman Amborg Preus
James Beverlin Ramsey
Alfred Magill Randolph
Morris Jacob Raphall
John Jefferson DeYampert Renfroe
Nathan Lewis Rice
Richard Henderson Rivers
Frederick Augustus Ross
William Henry Ruffner
John Andrew Scott, Sr.
William Anderson Scott
William H. Seat
Robert Newton Sledd
James A. Sloan
Jacob Henry Smith
William Andrew Smith
Ichabod Smith Spencer
Urbane C. Spencer
Edward Josiah Stearns
Joseph Clay Stiles
C. F. Sturgis
Thomas Osmond Summers
Henry H. Talbird
Samuel Kennedy Talmage
J. A. W. Thomas
Thomas C. Thornton
James Henley Thornwell
Isacc Taylor Tichenor
Henry Holcombe Tucker
Joel W. Tucker
Henry Allen Tupper
Henry Jackson Van Dyke
Charles Stuart Vedder
William H. Vernor
Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther
Ebenezer Wills Warren
Jared Bell Waterbury
William Hamilton Watkins
Benjamin Joseph Webb
Nathaniel Sheldon Wheaton
William Spotswood White
John Thomas Wightman
William May Wightman
Calvin Henderson Wiley
J. D. Williams
Richard Hooker Wilmer
John Leighton Wilson
Joseph Ruggles Wilson
Joshua Lacy Wilson
Samuel Ramsey Wilson
Edwin Theodore Winkler
Thomas Sumner Winn
Isaac Mayer Wise
My driving-factor in writing this article can be blamed on my 4th grade teacher. She was a mass-paddler. Our wholesale dose of deliberate pain usually happened as we (the boys) marched single-file to or from the cafeteria. One wrong step or juvenile giggle and her swift justice ran through us like veal through a meat grinder.
Regretfully, since every boy got paddled, no one clearly knew “who” committed the initial transgression.
Clearly these 275 men participated and prolonged the sin of slavery in America.
2.Larry E. Tise, Proslavery: A History of the Defense of Slavery in America, 1701-1840 (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1987), 367.
Appendix Two shows the Proslavery Ideography Codebook regarding the systematic arrangement of all biographical data and manageable variables. These calculations are used as the biographical data in chapter 6 and the rest of the book.
4. Ibid., xvii.
5. Ibid.,130. Southerners would be the leaders of the proslavery movement by the third generation or after 1830.
6. Ibid., 128.
7. Ibid., 128.
8. Ibid., 129.
9. Ibid., 129.
10. Ibid., 134.
11. Ibid., Table 6.3, 135.
12. Ibid., 155. Episcopalian’s wrote 20 percent, Baptists wrote 18 percent, and 14 percent Methodist. The remaining 17 percent were spread widely over almost every other church in America in the nineteenth century.
13. Ibid., 143.
14. Ibid., Table 6.8, 143. College of Charleston graduated 8, with Union University in New York, Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, and Harvard University all graduating seven.
15. Ibid., Table 6.10. 146. Andover Theological Seminary (Congregational) came in second with a total of 46.
16. Ibid., 137. About 89 percent of these ministers attended class through the high school level, while three of four attended college.
17. Ibid., 168.
18. Ibid., 162. While many proslavery clergymen entered church work at the bottom level, Tise found that reviewing the highest ecclesiastical positions achieved by proslavery ministers before 1861, three-fourths (74.6 percent) of the whole had reached or were on the way to them (highest positions)by the Civil War.
19. Elder Geo. W. Purefoy, A History of the Sandy Creek Baptist Association for its Organization in A.D. 1758, To A.D. 1858, (New York: Sheldon & Co., Publishers, 1859), 163-164.
20. Eric Metaxas, SEVEN MEN: And the Secret of Their Greatness, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson,2013), 46-47.
21. Tise, Proslavery, 363-366.
Ron F. Hale has served as a pastor, denominational leader, and religion writer. He currently serves a SBC congregation in his hometown of Jackson, Tennessee. He may be reached at Ronfhale@yahoo.com