TeacherServe Essays

American Abolitionism and Religion

Author: Wyatt-Brown, Bertram (NHC Fellow, 1989–90; 1998–99)

The cause of immediate emancipation, as the abolitionists came to define it, had a different germ of inspiration from those Enlightenment ideals that Jefferson had articulated: the rise of a fervent religious reawakening just as the new Republic was being created. That impulse sprang from two main sources: the theology and practice of Quakerism and the emergence of an aggressive, interdenominational evangelicalism. Both movements arose in England and America during the Age of Enlightenment—the eighteenth century. The pietism of the Quakers, a radically egalitarian Protestant sect, asserted the love of God for every human being, regardless of color, sex, or station in life.

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Subjects: History; Education Studies; American History; African American History; Abolitionism; Slavery; Evangelicalism; Christianity; Quakers