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Extracting abolitionist abstraction: the sectional crisis through Virginia and North Carolina Baptist print-culture.

The invention of the printing press in the 15th century, and specifically the invention of movable type, revolutionized the ways in which individuals transmitted ideas. Often overlooked, however, the invention of the steam printing press in the early 19th century coupled with new technology such as stereotype plates and machine-made paper also transformed print-culture. While print material had served as a mechanism for transmitting ideas for hundreds of years, according to Aileen Fyfe, the 19th century advances in print technology drastically affected the "quantity and cheapness of printed material." (1) Quickly after the introduction of this new technology, American evangelicals of every stripe and tenor began producing print materials of their own. American religious historian Candy Brown has suggested that the proliferation of evangelical writing and publishing highlights a paradox of purity and presence. Evangelicals created a print-culture both to maintain and defend the purity of their beliefs while at the same time establishing a present voice within the larger secular society. In essence, evangelical print-culture strove to balance the idea of being in the world, yet not being of the world. (2)

This advancement in evangelical printing took place within America that was facing greater and greater discord between the North and the South, and evangelical newspapers were by no means averse to writing about or discussing the nation's sectional crisis. Two Baptist newspapers, Virginia's The Religious Herald and North Carolina's The Biblical Recorder, often published material pertaining to larger societal discussions--partic-ularly slavery. Increasingly, however, attention drifted away from slavery in and of itself to indictments against northern abolitionists as the papers progressed from the 1830s into the 1850s and 1860s. This increased focus upon such a relatively small group of the northerners abstracted southern ideas of northern culture. Through this type of rhetoric, The Religious Herald and The Biblical Recorder created a presence in the South that attempted to defend the purity of the Southern institution of slavery but failed to accurately portray the northern half of the country. These two newspapers serve as a case study for broader southern evangelical print-culture. I argue, through religious newspapers southern evangelicals not only strove to maintain a purity of belief and societal presence but also a cultural and geographic purity, which caused an perceptive abstraction of northern abolitionists as well as Lincoln, the civil war, and southern slave culture generally.

I use the word abstraction throughout this paper in reference to the 1959 work of Stanley Elkins, Slave A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life. According to Elkins, northern abolitionists "abstracted" slavery from a social problem into a moral sin. These abolitionists could not bear the guilt of associating with southerners who participated in this moral sin. Slavery became "abstracted." In this paper, "abstraction" shall be utilized to show how southerners turned the social agenda of abolitionists into an immoral, anti-biblical crusade. As this social agenda was abstracted, so to were abolitionists abstracted into something more or less human. (3)

Abolitionists were certainly a significant and contentious group in antebellum America, but in reality, they composed a small portion of American society. Negative attitudes toward abolitionists during this period were by no means confined to The Herald or The Recorder or even southern minds generally. Historian William E. Cain began his 1995 work, William Lloyd Garrison and the Fight Against Slavery: Sections from The Liberator, with a story from 1835 when a Boston mob chased abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison down the street, caught him, tore his clothes, and hauled him through the city by a rope. (4) Through his publication, The Liberator, Garrison became one of the most notorious abolitionists in America. Formally defined by Cain, abolitionism was an ideological support for immediate emancipation "without compensation to slave owners for their lost "property" and without any expectation or requirement that freed blacks would be transported abroad." (5) Garrison was unique in that he supported both these measures, but also maintained a belief in the equality of black people and white people. Because of the radical nature of these opinions, abolitionists at large composed a small portion of the population. Historian Williamjames Hull Hoffer suggests, "for much of [abolitionist] history they and their cause were despised, ridiculed, frequently ignored, often banned, and sometimes violently suppressed." (6) The Religious Herald and The Biblical Recorder published within the context of an antebellum society that on the whole disliked abolitionism. Both newspapers followed societal trends of dislike, but contributed to the creation of an illusion that abolitionist thought permeated a majority of the northern population.

The Herald and The Recorder printed throughout the antebellum period, which witnessed the fracturing of Baptist life from one national body into northern and southern Baptist bodies. The split between the northern and southern Baptist churches began during the 1830s when abolitionists began pressing their agenda into the moral discourse of society. While at this time more than half of the nation's 570,000 Baptists lived in the South, the North held a majority of the power within the two major denominational bodies--The Home Mission Society and the General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination of the United States. By 1840, the General Convention issued a statement that sought a middle ground by suggesting slavery was not an issue in the cooperation of foreign missions. Abolitionists disapproved of this compromise and created their own mission organization in 1844. The same year, the Georgia Baptist Convention and the Alabama State Convention put forth missionary candidate "test cases" to the Home Mission Society and the General Convention, respectively. Both organizations refused to appoint these slave-holding candidates presented by Georgia and Alabama for mission work, and this refusal to appoint slave-holding missionaries led to an exodus of southern churches from these denominational mission societies. The following year, both the Home Mission Society and General Baptist Convention had become predominantly northern organizations. In 1845, at the request of the Virginia Baptist Foreign Mission Society, the Southern Baptist Convention was formed with the gathering of 293 delegates in Augusta, Georgia. (7)

While many contemporary Southern Baptists will argue that their denomination was founded with the sole intention of mission work, this argument contains half of the truth. According to historian Bill Leonard, the "missionary commitment was not something new with the new denomination." (8) In reality, the denomination was formed on the basis of maintaining southern cultural ideology and institutions. Southerners were not forming a new denomination on the basis of sponsoring foreign missionaries, but rather on the basis of maintaining slaves in the midst of sponsoring foreign missionaries. This distinction, while slight, shows how Baptists in the South saw themselves not only as a missionary people, but also as a culture of oppressed people. (9) The Religious Herald and The Biblical Recorder used their platform to defend southern culture just as the Southern Baptist Convention had been formed to preserve a slaveholding way of life.

Within this context of Baptist life during the antebellum period, Baptist newspapers like The Religious Herald and Biblical Recorder emerged. Roger Crook's work The Ethical Emphases of the Editors of Baptist Journals in the Southeastern Region of the United States up to 1865 both explained the significance of religious newspapers generally during this period in American history, but also the way in which editors affected the content of these newspapers. The Religious Herald was "the first successful Baptist journal in the South" and began publication in January 1828. (10) The first editor of this publication, Henry Keeling, did not publish extensively on the subject of slavery, but he was a supporter of the American Colonization Society. According to Crook, throughout The Religious Herald under Keeling, most publications contained success letters from Liberia or advertisements for raising money for the Colonization Society. (11) Keeling believed that the Colonization Plan was "a plan to relieve the country of the burden of the increasing the free colored population." (12) The need for such reassurance suggests that readership of The Religious Herald may not have fully embraced the colonization plan. At the very least, however, this shows that readers were interested in the colonization plan for purposes of removing free blacks from southern society.

The second editor of The Religious Herald, William Sands, also published in favor of the colonization society. Sands favored the colonization plan because he felt this plan would introduce Christianity into Africa as well as remove a population of free blacks that would not succeed otherwise within American society. (13) Crook noted that Sands "dismissed [abolitionists] with short, caustic comments and epithets" throughout his time as editor of The Herald. These pithy comments, while perhaps insignificant individually begin to add up throughout the historical record. Despite his apparent animosity toward northern abolitionists, one must note that during the schism between the Northern Baptists and the Southern Baptists, Sands advocated for the South not to withdraw too hastily. (14) Certainly, Sands believed abolitionist sentiment within these northern organizations was pervasive, but he still desired to leave cautiously.

By 1857, when David Shaver became the associate editor of The Religious Herald, many of the paper's pieces on slavery were as Crook wrote, "for the most part, replies to attacks on slavery made by northerners." (15) Shaver believed if the northern abolitionists desired the end of slavery, they should buy and free the slaves themselves, stop using products that utilized slave labor, and/or welcome free blacks in the North. Shaver suggested, akin to antebellum voices like George Fitzhugh, that free blacks in the North as well as white factory workers were worse off than slaves in the South. (16) This emphasis on the differences between the North and South led Crook to believe that as time progressed the issue became less about slavery specifically and more about the sectional crisis and southern culture generally.

In North Carolina, the first Baptist newspaper, The Baptist Interpreter, began as a monthly publication in 1833 by Thomas Meredith. In 1835, Meredith began a weekly paper, which he titled The Biblical Recorder. Meredith served as editor of this paper for fifteen years until his death in 1850. Early on in Meredith's career with the Recorder, he wrote often on the scriptural justifications of slavery. Much of his argumentation relied on the lack of evidence within the Biblical text that slavery was sinful and morally wrong. He wrote, "We ask, did the apostles ever denounce this practice?--did they ever forbid it? Did they ever pronounce it a sin? Did they ever require its suppression? If they did, we want the proof." (17) For Meredith, slavery was justified solely because scripture offered no condemnation of slavery on the basis of his reading of the text.

Despite finding Biblical justification for slavery, Meredith did not support the institution as it existed within the American South. He wrote in July 1835, "slavery is at this day connected with manifold aggravated abuses, at the recital of which humanity shudders, and against which the gospel of the Son of God proclaims its most fearful anathemas." (18) For Meredith slavery had Biblical justification, but the cruelty connected with the institution of slavery was not justified. Ideally, he believed slavery would be done away with as an expansion of the "principles of Christian benevolence." (19) Meredith held very complex views of slavery that saw the institution as Biblically justified, but saw the American interpretation of this institution as cruel and in need of doing away with. Despite this complex understanding of slavery, Meredith returned to the issue of northern abolitionism quite frequently. According to Crook, Meredith was certain slavery "was a problem for the southerners to solve, and that the meddling of northerners, who had no concern in the matter, only aggravated the whole situation." (20) Meredith also understood the creation of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845 as a split between slaveholders and abolitionists--a drastic misrepresentation of the Northern Baptist Convention, which saw the abolitionist faction leave in 1844. (21)

From 1850 to 1861, T.W. Tobey worked for a short period as editor followed by J. J. James serving as editor for the majority of this period until he sold the paper in 1861. By 1863, the paper was circulating to nearly 5,000 Baptists across the state of North Carolina.22 In terms of perspective, Crook argued that James wrote about slavery "by way of...attack on Northern abolitionists and a defense of all things Southern." (23) Crook suggested that James' treatment of slavery during his tenure as editor of the Recorder served to "condemn the North for its sin of abolitionism, and to show that the South was absolutely free of sin so far as the slavery issue was concerned." (24) Crook recognized that the portrayal of abolitionism within the Biblical Recorder was more than simply a political position or a social agenda. Abolitionism had become abstracted, and this abstraction translated to the newspaper medium. Similar to northern abolitionist understandings of slavery as sin, for southerners, abolitionism was a sin.

By framing abolition as a sin, abolitionism both itself and ideologically began to serve as a principal reason for the sectional crisis. Highlighting the gravity placed upon the role of abolitionism within southern secession, The Biblical Recorder published a sermon from a New York Pastor in Brooklyn in the January 23, 1861 edition of the paper. The numerous sections of this sermon discussed all the different ways in which abolitionism was unscriptural. The final section, however, began by stating, "abolition is the chief cause of the strife that agitates and danger that threatens our country." (25) Neither slavery, nor cultural differences, nor blundering politicians, but abolitionism served as the chief cause of the sectional tension between the North and the South. The Recorder blamed abolitionists for this tension even into the civil war. In May 1861, nine days after North Carolina seceded from the Union, the Biblical Recorder reprinted a speech by Henry Clay delivered in 1839. (26) In this speech, Clay predicted disunion if the abolitionists were to unite the free states. The Recorder used this prediction as an accusation that abolitionists ought be blamed for the secession among the southern states.

Regional division also appeared earlier in articles published in the Religious Herald. On November 6 1856, an article intended to discuss the moral good of the institution of slavery, turned into an attack against the scriptural interpretation and religious piety of abolitionists. The piece reviewed the publication of Scriptural and Statistical Views in Favor of Slavery by Thornton Stringfellow, pastor of Stevensburg Baptist Church in Culpepper, Virginia. Although the piece heavily praised Stringfellow's work, the article primarily showcased and highlighted Stingfellow's distain for abolitionists. The article reported, "the declared Abolitionists in the North...would sooner repudiate both the Old and New Testament, (as numbers of them have already done,) and openly proclaim their unbelief than give up their darling one idealism on the subject of the intolerable and abominable sin of slavery." (27) According to this review, abolitionists manipulated scripture to their own political and social beliefs. If such manipulation could not be achieved, these northerners just as easily declare their unbelief The piece continued to suggest that Stringfellow's intended purpose with this work was to "dissipate the doubts of the apologetic class of people in the South." (28) According to the author, these southern individuals who doubt the legitimacy of slavery are "really as dangerous to the South as her open assailants [Abolitionists in the North]." (29) The South must either take a firm stand in support of the institution of slavery or "cease to resist the Abolitionists." (30) This editorial embodied the idea that southerners were fighting against abolitionists rather than fighting for slavery. This distinction places a greater emphasis on a defense of the purity of culture in the ever-growing discord between the North and South rather than a mere purity of belief and doctrine.

Rather than addressing distinct anti-slavery sentiments, these southern evangelical newspapers conflated differing opinions into a singular northern abolitionist culture. The Biblical Recorder rehashed the arguments of abolitionist GeiTitt Smith in September of 1859 and discussed the slippery slope of anti-slavery thought as seen through a Biblical lens. (31) The Recorder suggested that once an individual departed from God's word that departure became greater and greater. In a similar method, the article suggested that anti-slavery sentiments had the propensity to become more and more radical. The piece contended that the thought of anti-slavery advocates was in a constant state of transitioning to "a colonizationist, then, an abolitionist; then, a very hot and radical abolitionist; then a seventh day Baptist. ..then a perfectionist; then a spiritualist; and now an infidel." (32) The Recorder differentiated between different types of anti-slavery thought, but all of these schools of thought from colonization to perfectionism had the same end--infidel. This understanding of anti-slavery movements generally and abolitionists specifically abstracted the identity of abolitionism into a passing phase along the anti-slavery spectrum that would eventually lead one into a cultural identity of infidels.

Even articles with solely southern interest contorted arguments in order to address abolitionist sentiments. Topics regarding the education of slaves emerged often throughout The Religious Herald as an important issue to all of the early editors of this publication. An article in July 1837 discussed the necessity for the District Associations in Virginia to examine the education of slaves in Christian doctrine. The article began by calling attention to the lack of religious piety and practice among the slaveholders; some of whom the writer suggested were a few "ungodly men." (33) Continuing beyond addressing solely slaveholders, the writer continued to place partial blame on northern fanatics. The article suggested there had been an increased effort to impart Christian religion to the servile class but not enough to merit "all that [was] due to the momentous interests at stake." (34) The writer argued that "especially in some sections, a culpable omission of effort" to educate slaves has emerged in response to "anti-slavery agitation at the North." (35) According to this article, in the midst of southern failings to educate their slaves, northern abolitionists were partially at fault.

The Religious Herald also reported the advances in educating slaves outside Virginia as well as outside Baptist life. One article praised the Episcopalian education of slavery in South Carolina, but suggested other denominations were doing even more work. The article read, "ten thousand dollars annually, is given by members of our Church to other denominations who are engaged in this work, and who have altogether accomplished four times as much as the Episcopalians." (36) The essay was ambiguous as to which church "our Church" refers, but in either respect suggested that Baptists were providing money to other denominations to educate slaves rather than providing this education themselves. This point suggests that Baptists within the South viewed themselves in solidarity with other southern denominational bodies even more so than with fellow Baptists in the North. Other examples of these news updates within The Religious Herald informed readers of the education of slaves by Presbyterians in Georgia. (37) These brief items appear as an attempted vindication of members of the southern gentry to show that slave education has not been neglected. Rather than functioning as a source of information, these short news updates provided individuals in the South with proof that slaves were treated well. In this way, religious newspapers served as a defense of the purity of southern cultural leanings and practices that cut across denominational lines and beliefs.

While The Religious Herald varied their language referencing abolitionists, The Biblical Recorder often utilized abolitionism as a catch all phrase for any type of fanaticism or nefarious behavior directed toward the institution of slavery. Because of this, The Recorder often missed the blatant hypocrisy of a majority of northerners who rejected slavery but were racist nonetheless. In April of 1861, The Recorder attempted to show what freed slaves should "expect from abolitionists" upon manumission by stating, "The North would manumit the Negro and exterminate him!" (38) At the same time, this article aimed to show that the South wanted to preserve the "Negro race." This hypocrisy was present in the thought of many northerners, but not necessarily abolitionists. William Lloyd Garrison for instance desired the equality of the races--a more radical abolitionist attitude. The Recorder failed to recognize this distinction and misrepresented the abolitionists as a much larger contingent within northern society. Whether this misrepresentation was intentional or unintentional, the readership of The Biblical Recorder would have taken this as a reputable source of information. Thus, abolitionism slowly became a more and more theoretical enemy than an actualized, physical enemy.

The Religious Herald did conflate abolitionism with other anti-slavery groups that believed in the inferiority of black people but not to the same extent as The Recorder The Herald attacked the North as racist hypocrites in the first edition of the paper after the Emancipation Proclamation. The editors identified this speech by President Lincoln as the "emancipation `ukase." (39) The article quickly pointed out, "Lincoln does not propose to free the slaves in those States and parts of States which are 'not in rebellion'- slaves, probably a million in number, and certainly within his power." (40) The writer called out Lincoln's double standard and suggests, "an impartial world, especially in times to come, will ask this question." (44) What is significant, however, is that this article did not link Lincoln to abolitionism, but instead focused on how Lincoln related to the states in rebellion. Rather than conflating Lincoln and abolition, The Herald utilized a different category for describing Lincoln.

The Biblical Recorder more forcefully refused to comment on Lincoln in relation to slavery, instead choosing to discuss his actions in terms of this "new" category of states rights. The first reference to Abraham Lincoln in The Biblical Recorder comes in May of 1860 right after his nomination as the Republican Party's candidate. The brevity of this piece most likely can be attributed to The Recorder's lack of information on Lincoln. The Biblical Recorder reported further in June of 1860 the names of the major candidates for the forthcoming Presidential Election. Upon the election of Lincoln, The Recorder failed to make any substantive comments on Lincoln's Presidency either. On April 24 1861, twelve days after the attack at Fort Sumter, The Biblical Recorder republished North Carolina Governor John Ellis' Proclamation against Lincoln's call for 75,000 militiamen. Ellis argued, "Lincoln has made a call for...the invasion of the peaceful homes of the South, and for the violent subversion of the liberties of the free people, constituting a large part of the whole population of the late United States." (42) Since North Carolina did not secede from the Union until May 20, 1861, the Governor and The Recorder still identified as part of the United States. Ellis described Lincoln's actions as "conceived in a spirit of aggression unparalleled by any act of recorded history...[and] a direct step toward the subjugation of the whole South." (43) No references toward slavery or abolitionism appear within this proclamation. Instead The Recorder published Ellis's proclamation that identified Lincoln as one who desired "the conversion of a free Republic...into a military despotism." (44) The proclamation described Lincoln an agitator of states rights and sovereignty.

In May of 1861, The Recorder republished the resolutions from the Georgia Baptist State Convention. Georgia Baptists also framed the start of the civil war as a violation of states rights. One segment of the Georgia Baptists' resolution supporting secession read, "Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States, is attempting by force of arms, to subjugate these States in violation of the fundamental principles of American liberty." (45) The issue of slavery did not arise within this resolution. Much like Governor Ellis' proclamation in North Carolina, the Georgia Baptists contributed to the early understandings of the civil war as a war of states rights. The Biblical Recorder existed within this larger southern context and participated in the proliferation of these prevalent ideas.

The Recorder, however, also sympathized with Lincoln to an extent. In May 1861, The Recorder made clear Lincoln was "not responsible" for a tariff that affected the southern states. (46) Instead, the article recognized that "President Lincoln has the interest of the Union to protect." (47) According to The Recorder, Lincoln did not operate out of an aversion to the South or to southern culture but with a larger view of the whole country. This piece sympathized with Lincoln by recognizing his elected position and that the "unwise measure" was passed outside his responsibility. (48)

While The Recorder certainly would have supported the election of a Democratic candidate, the newspaper interestingly enough did not view Lincoln as the ultimate enemy. In an October 1861 article, the newspaper reported the South believed "they [were] fighting against an alien enemy -one Abraham Lincoln - who is aided and abetted by the powers of darkness and their Yankee co-efficient. And yet I have reasons to believe Mr. Lincoln is one of the most moderate men in the section." (49) The editor continued, "[Lincoln] inclines to the view that the North is not making a war against...slavery." (50) From the perspective of The Biblical Recorder, Lincoln held moderate political beliefs that were not as concerned with southern slavery. The problem revolved around "the powers of darkness" that aided Lincoln. Recognizing these "powers of darkness" must be more radical than the "moderate" Lincoln; The Recorder was implicitly referencing the northern abolitionist faction. Either these more radical abolitionists were literally the "powers of darkness," or at the very least agents of this evil force. In both scenarios, Lincoln's presidency was not the problem. The abstract representation of abolitionists and other political radicals as "powers of darkness" was the problem.

Certainly, The Recorder had instances in which Lincoln was portrayed negatively. In June of 1861, The Recorder published a short piece from The Richmond Dispatch that suggested Lincoln recognized the South as a unified whole. The article further contended Lincoln understood "the North had the power to crush [the South], and was determined to do it." (51) The Recorder did not, however, conflate Lincoln with slavery or abolitionism because he did not fit the abstract definition of what abolitionism had become. By having ill-defined parameters for what constituted and what did no constitute an abolitionist, The Recorder turned Lincoln into a "moderate" agitator against states rights. This does not imply southerners were not intentionally reframing the war away from slavery, but it does mean their enemy had been abstracted. The southern understanding of abolitionism's threat to slavery had become so aggrandized that Lincoln could not be termed an abolitionist. Instead, framing Lincoln as an agitator of states rights served two purposes--first, to reframe the conflict away from slavery and second, to create more concrete and realistic enemy against which the South could unify.

While this abstraction of abolitionism reframed the nature of the civil war, the abstraction also established the precedent for southerners to view themselves as oppressed people following the conflict. When the Union Army burned the city of Richmond, The Religious Herald's offices were destroyed and ceased publication until October 1865. The first publication after the civil war provided an early perspective on how Baptists in Virginia understood their former opinions in light of losing the war and the emancipation of slaves. The publication wrestled with many questions ranging from the nature and purpose of a religious newspaper publication to how Virginians should treat their former slaves. The new editors of The Herald, Dr. J.B. Jeter and Reverend A.E. Dickinson, believed "Southern Christians cannot forget that the pulpit and religious press of the North," encouraged the destruction of the South. (52) They wrote, "Unless we acknowledge ourselves to have been criminals and ask forgiveness and absolution from these men, and admit their superiority, wisdom, and integrity, they refuse to recognize us as equals and fellow laborers in the kingdom of Christ." (53) This understanding of the victimized South emerged in full clarity throughout this issue of The Herald. Encapsulated within this idea of victimization, the South believed they must view themselves as inferiors in order to return to commune with the North generally, and northern Christians specifically. This belief among southerners adds to the complexity surrounding the reunification of denominational bodies. A Southern belief that supporters of slavery were required to admit their inferiority to an abstract group of anti-slavery northern Christians helps to explain the failure of denominational bodies to mend the divisions created prior to the civil war.

Multiple times within this edition of The Herald, the editors made a point to suggest that freedmen should not be blamed for emancipation. "They should not be blamed for their emancipation, and there should be no prejudice cherished against them, but they should be justly and humanely treated." (54) The overall thrust of this edition of the newspaper placed blame on northerners. Discussing the relationship of Northern and Southern Baptists, the editors attributed the break in the Triennial Convention to the 1832 meeting where abolitionists "disturbed" the meeting with their "peculiar views." The editors made clear not to blame the former slaves, who merely "accepted freedom"--a completely "natural, and, in no degree, blamable" choice. (55) From this perspective, the freedmen remained passive agents, and in many ways remained still chattel in the eyes of southerners. In this publication, the freedman were simply objects that southerners have been told to treat differently and northerners were still a conceptualized abolitionist enemy--the active agents within this debate are northerners and southerners. The editors recognized former slaves would be suspicious of their former masters and that change would take time. The editors advocated, "we must patiently wait for time to restore [the freedman's] confidence in their old friends." (56) By referring to themselves as "old friends" and taking the blame away from these former slaves, this edition of The Religious Herald shows how southern society would ultimately view northerners in the proceeding years of reconstruction--as an irreligious unbiblical group of abolitionists who broke and reframed southern culture.

Through an analysis of these newspapers, one can see the tremendous emphasis Baptists in Virginia and North Carolina placed on addressing northern abolitionists. In emphasizing abolitionists and fanatics to such an extant, these newspapers abstracted abolitionists into a non-existent, hyperbolic entity. The institution of slavery became a complex relationship between enslaved blacks, slaveholders, and the ever-present enemy--northern abolitionists. On a political level, the abstraction and complexity of this relationship created an inability for southerners to understand their northern political counterparts. While certainly the South viewed enslaved blacks as more or less human, in a very different yet related way abolitionists became something more or less human as well. In order to protect their political and social institutions, the South understood their northern rivals as something completely other and totally at odds to the southern way of life. This inability to accurately "see" their political rivals exacerbated the sectional conflict on both sides of the geo-political spectrum. Rather than attempting to find solutions to the problems, both sides sought to vilify one another.

Within these two examples of evangelical print-culture, this portrayal of abolitionism indeed served to defend the purity of their religious devotion, but it equally served to preserve the purity of southern cultural and geographic unity. During the antebellum period, evangelical-print culture like The Religious Herald and The Biblical Recorder sought to transmit religious ideas, but these religious ideas were also entangled amidst cultural and political ideas. While this entanglement certainly affected antebellum and civil war life in the South, this southern entanglement and inability to "see" their political rivals did not end with the end of the civil war. The influences of these intertwined religious and political ideas would continue to affect this region's created myth of the oppressive North and the victimized South. This myth would ripple throughout the post-wars year of reconstruction and even into the twentieth century through the influence and establishment of the Cult of the Lost Cause and Jim Crow.


(1.) Aileen Fyfe, Steam-Powered Knowledge: William Chambers and the Business of Publishing 18201860, (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2012), 1.

(2.) See Candy Brown, The Word in the World: Evangelical Writing, Publishing, and Reading in America, 1789-1880, (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2004).

(3.) See Stanley Elkins, Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life, (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1959).

(4.) William E. Cain, William Lloyd Garrison and the Fight against Slavery: Selections from The Liberator, (Boston, MA: Bedford Books, 1995), 1-2.

(5.) Cain, 11.

(6.) Williamjames Hull Hoffer, The Caning of Charles Sumner: Honor, Idealism, and the Origins of the Civil War, (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), 20.

(7.) See John Eighmy, Churches in Cultural Captivity: A History of the Social Attitudes of Southern Baptists, (Knoxville, TN: The University of Tennessee Press, 1972).

(8.) Bill Leonard, God's Last and Only Hope: The Fragmentation of the Southern Baptist Convention, (Grand Rapids ML William B. Eealmans Publishing Company, 1990), 18.

(9.) Ibid.

(10.) Roger Crook, The Ethical Emphases of the Editors of Baptist Journals Published in the Southeastern Region of the United States up to 1865, (Thesis, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1947), 16.

(11.) Ibid., 138-139.

(12.) Ibid., 139. See also The Religious Herald, June 25, 1830.

(13.) Ibid., 141.

(14.) Ibid., 146.

(15.) Ibid., 147.

(16.) See George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All! Or, Slaves Without Masters, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982), 8.

(17.) The Biblical Recorder, September 30, 1835. See also Crook, 172-186.

(18.) Ibid., July 22, 1835

(19.) Ibid., November 9, 1844.

(20.) Crook, 177.

(21.) The Biblical Recorder, May 31, 1845.

(22.) Crook, 19.

(23.) Ibid., 186.

(24.) Ibid., 187.

(25.) The Biblical Recorder., January 23, 1861. There is little recognition that this was a sermon from a northern minister. Instead, supporting the idea of abstraction, northern opponents to abolitionists were present in society, but they failed to stand out from the larger, more threatening abolitionist force.

(26.) The Biblical Recorder, May 29, 1861.

(27.) The Religious Herald, November 6, 1856.

(28.) Ibid.

(29.) Ibid.

(30.) Ibid.

(31.) The Biblical Recorder, September 8, 1859.

(32.) Ibid.

(33.) The Religious Herald, July 2, 1857.

(34.) Ibid.

(35.) Ibid.

(36.) The Religious Herald, July 23, 1857.

(37.) The Religious Herald, December 18, 1862.

(38.) The Biblical Recorder, April 3, 1861

(39.) The Religious Herald, January 22, 1863.

(40.) Ibid.

(41.) Ibid.

(42.) The Biblical Recorder, April 24, 1861.

(43.) Ibid.

(44.) Ibid.

(45.) The Biblical Recorder, May 15, 1861.

(46.) The Biblical Recorder, May 8, 1861.

(47.) Ibid.

(48.) Ibid.

(49.) The Biblical Recorder, October 31, 1861.

(50.) Ibid.

(51.) The Biblical Recorder, June 5, 1861.

(52.) The Religious Herald, October 19, 1865.

(53.) Ibid.

(54.) Ibid.

(55.) Ibid.

(56.) The Religious Herald, October 19, 1865.
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Author:Gardner, Andrew
Publication:Cross Currents
Geographic Code:1U5VA
Date:Sep 1, 2014
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