Documenting the American South Logo
Collections >> The Church in the Southern Black Community >> Document Menu >> Summary

George Bourne, 1780-1845
A Condensed Anti-slavery Bible Argument, by a Citizen of Virginia
New York: Printed by S. W. Benedict, 1845.


In A Condensed Anti-Slavery Bible Argument, Bourne argues that the Bible expressly condemns slavery. He states in his introduction that his intent is to "overthrow" the notion that slavery is sanctioned by scripture on one hand, and beneficial to those who practice it on the other. He uses his first chapter to define slavery, calling attention especially to the idea of reducing humans to the level of property. His argument centers on the distinction between service for pay and servitude without pay; the former is practiced by biblical figures, he says, while the latter is not and is indeed condemned in several places throughout scripture. He also proves through the use of scripture that Africans are not under the "curse of Cain" nor the "curse of Cannan (the son of Ham, whom Noah cursed)," two assumptions that were often used to articulate a divine mandate for the enslavement of Africans.

The second half of the book treats the Old Testament and refutes assumptions that the lives of Hebrew Patriarchs and the Law of Moses support slavery, then turns to the New Testament and shows how the teachings of Jesus and the various epistles condemn slavery. Bourne gives the letter from Paul to Philemon, discussing an escaped servant, special attention. He concludes the book by condemning slavery as a "heathen" practice, and shows how slaveholding nations have been punished for their crime.

Christopher Hill

Document menu