The Antislavery Crusade: The Question of Slavery within a Presbyterian Church in the 1830s-1840s

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Anna Sensel
Wayne Durrill


By Anna Sensel, History

Advisor: Wayne Durrill

Awards: Capstone Competition: Second Place Winner

Presentation ID: 98

Abstract: In New England in the 1830's and 1840's abolitionism spread like wildfire throughout New England, but in the case of the North Church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, that wasn't the case. After a previous slave-holding minister moved from Macon, Georgia to Portsmouth and became the new minister, the antislavery churchmembers began being excommunicated from the church and drama ensued. These antislavery members wrote letters detailing their disdain for their new minister Edwin Holt. A newspaper article was written in 1841 discussing the Abolitionist Society and how they were bothering the churchmembers regarding their new minister and they then claimed that an unnecessary crusade was being fought by the Abolitionists towards these members. This case study of the North Church in New Hampshire reveals a more realistic story of how abolitionism was not a quick sweep as it is typically seen, but rather for all of those involved in this particular case shows that it was actually a more complicated and slow story that had to go through several stages in dealing with the question of slavery.

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Category: Social (In)Justice