Master of Arts in History
First Committee Member
Elizabeth White Nelson, Chair
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Graduate Faculty Representative
Number of Pages
The Presbyterian Church had one of the largest pro-slavery clergy of any antebellum Protestant church. These men extracted verses and passages from the Bible to prove God sanctioned slavery. Many Southern Presbyterian ministers including Charles Hodge, James Henley Thornwell and Benjamin Morgan Palmer used the pulpit to defend slavery and advocate secession, collapsing political and religious boundaries. I focus on the 1855-1861 debates about slavery in the Presbyterian Church led by Charles Hodge, James Henley Thornwell, and Benjamin Morgan Palmer. I reorient the argument from the usual political and economic accounts of the antebellum secession discussions and build upon current scholarship on the influence of churches in encouraging secession through their cultural and spiritual justification of slavery. Further examination of the role that nineteenth-century theologians created for themselves provides an insight into the cultural and spiritual reasons religious Southerners found compelling as they embraced the political call for secession.
American Civil War (1861-1865); Civil war; Confederate States of America; Secession; Slavery and the church--Presbyterian Church
American Politics | History | United States History
Rayner, Deborah Jane, "The plunge into secession: The Presbyterian schism of the Reverends. Charles Hodge, James Henley Thornwell and Benjamin Morgan Palmer" (2009). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 1125.