Wednesday, November 23, 2011

To Hear Them Tell the Story

I look forward to reading The Accidental Slaveowner in its entirety. In researching the life of 4x gr-grandfather, Rev. William Hardesty (1776-1846), whose father George and uncle Rev. John Hagerty (1747-1823) preceded him into Methodism, I became aware of the sect’s migration from founder John Wesley’s unconditional opposition to slavery. After Wesley's death in 1791 and prior to the church’s 1840 decree that holding slaves was deemed no barrier to becoming a minister or assuming higher office, it was general custom for men entering leadership roles or inheriting slaves to transfer ownership of their living property to family members.

“…many Methodist preachers, taken from comparative poverty, not able to own a negro, and who preached loudly against it, improved, and became popular among slaveholders; and many of them married into those slaveholding families, and became personally interested in slave property (as it is called). [SIC] Then they began to apologize for the evil; then to justify it, on legal principles; then on Bible principles; till lo and behold! it is not an evil, but a good! it is not a curse, but a blessing! till really you would think, to hear them tell the story, if you had the means and did not buy a good lot of them, you would go to the devil for not enjoying the labor, toil, and sweat of this degraded race …” 

UPDATE: To Discover a Kinsman in You flowed from Cartwright's surmise, and the first comment following below.

1 comment:

  1. Peter Cartwright, Jr. (1785-1872) was an anti-slavery Democrat when, in 1832, Abraham Lincoln failed to replace him in the Illinois House of Representatives. (Lincoln prevailed over Cartwright in 1846 election to the U.S. House.)

    Cartwright is well-represented by Evers, in 1962 thesis 'The history of the Southern Illinois Conference of the Methodist Church.’ “In one speech he was reported to have said, “Yes, my friends, for many long years, amid appalling difficulties and dangers, I have waged incessant warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil, and all the other enemies of the Democratic Party.””

    “Every Methodist preacher had opposed slavery from stem to stern. There was not to found in its ministry an advocate of slavery. He deplored the suggestion that the conference was powerless to touch a bishop who had become unacceptable. He pronounced the “heretical doctrines” as “humbuggery,” that if a man inherited a slave he could do nothing about it. “I so became an owner and shouldered my responsibility, resolved to be like Caesar's wife, above suspicion; I took them to my state and set them free; gave them land and built them houses, where they have prospered."


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