Theological aspects


The Anti-Slavery Society, based in New York City, published monthly The Anti-Slavery Record. Arthur Tappan (1786-1865), a Presbyterian, and William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) founded the abolitionist group in 1833.

The overzealous language and tactics of some abolitionists brought about criticism from certain ministers. Henry Van Dyke (1822-1891) was a Presbyterian minister of the Old School branch. In an 1860 sermon, he stated that slavery was a necessary step in bringing Africans towards Christianity and that abolitionists were dividing the country.

"I am here to-night, in God's name, and by his help, to show that this tree of Abolitionism is evil, and only evil–root and branch, flower, and leaf, and fruit; that it springs from, and is nourished by, an utter rejection of the Scriptures; that it produces no real benefit to the enslaved, and is the fruitful source of division and strife, and infidelity, in both Church and State."

(Van Dyke, The Character and Influence of Abolitionism, 7)