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By John Saillant

Born in Connecticut, Lemuel Haynes used to be first an indentured servant, then a soldier within the Continental military, and, in 1785, an ordained congregational minister. Haynes's writings represent the fullest list of a black man's faith, social notion, and competition to slavery within the late-18th and early-19th century. Drawing on either released and infrequent unpublished assets, John Saillant the following deals the 1st accomplished examine of Haynes and his concept.

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Extra resources for Black Puritan, Black Republican: The Life and Thought of Lemuel Haynes, 1753-1833 (Religion in America)

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The black abolitionists could hardly have been clearer in their views of the historical significance of the slave trade and slavery and the new age that seemed to be dawning in the late eighteenth century. In expanding the Quaker’s references to Mosaic law and other elements of Scripture, Haynes constructed a bridge from Benezet’s Christian humanitarism to a black theology in which the restoration of God’s chosen black people was central to the new age. To Benezet’s humanitarian protest against the slave trade and slavery, Haynes added a religious and scriptural vision of first, slavery once legitimate under Mosaic law and, by derivation, under Islamic law, but forever forbidden by Christ; and second, God’s chosen people, betrayed, by themselves as well as by others, but ultimately restored to the divine community.

98 The Old Testament, properly understood, was against slavery. No one can, Haynes insisted, be denied freedom or “Communion” because of race, appearance, or an Old Testament curse. ”100 By contrast, Islamic jurists had earlier fortified the “curse of Ham” by arguing that the “peculiarity” of the “children of Ham” was a characteristic of all unbelievers. In the words of a sixteenth-century jurist, “Any unbeliever among the children of Ham, or anyone else, may be possessed [as a slave] if he remains attached to his original unbelief.

Christian slaves therefore were to try their best to be free by the “Lawfull” measures available. The persistence of slavery in nominally Christian times meant to black commentators that a corrupt or even false religion held sway. ”105 It was obvious that slaves were to seek freedom as fully as possible within the laws of their society as well as strive to further Christianity by ridding it of the proslavery dross of the past. The New Testament also galvanized eighteenth-century abolitionists, black and white, into asserting apocalyptically that the abuse of blacks in the slave trade and New World slavery was part of the battle between good and evil foretold in Revelation.

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