A Contrast of North and South

From: Bernhard1848@att.net

While the Northeastern section of the United States has commonly been referred to as the free States, some historians have properly called them the "slave-trading States" in recognition of the New England slave trade which prospered in the mid-1700’s and was still in existence a full century later. Those so-called free States often demonstrated an intolerance of black people in their midst as illustrated in this description of two black preachers, one in Massachusetts and one in Virginia.

Bernhard Thuersam, Executive Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Post Office Box 328
Wilmington, NC 28402

A Contrast of North and South:

"Lemuel Haynes…was born July 18, 1753 at West Hartford, Connecticut. His father was a man of unmingled African extraction and his mother a white woman of respectable New England ancestry. As he was a natural son, the mother abandoned him in infancy but fortunately he found asylum at the home of one Haynes, whose name he took and with whom he lived until he was five months old. He was then bound out (in servitude) to David Rose of Granville, Massachusetts where Lemuel grew to manhood.

Lemuel was given the rudimentary training in the backwoods schools of the community in which he learned to read and write. (After service in the American military in the Revolution, he) decided to study theology in anticipation of the designs of Providence concerning him. For some time he had been accustomed to read the Bible and sermons of others on the occasions of conducting family prayers in the home of David Rose. He (became) licensed to preach in the Congregational Church in 1780 and was ordained soon thereafter, to begin his ministry at Middle Granville, where he labored five years. Here Bessie Babbit, a white woman of considerable education and piety offered him her heart, and they were married in 1783. From this small charge Haynes was called to Torrington, Connecticut. A leading citizen was much displeased that the church should have a "nigger minister" and to show his lack of respect for the new incumbent this man went into the church and sat with his hat on."

"John Chavis was a full-blooded Negro of dark brown color born probably near Oxford, Granville County, North Carolina about 1763. From a youth he impressed the public as a man of unusual power and was therefore sent by his friends to Princeton to see if a Negro could take a collegiate education. From Princeton he went to Lexington, Virginia to preach. In the records of the Presbyterians of 1801, Chavis is referred to as "a black man of prudence and piety."

"For his better direction in the discharge of duties which are attended with many circumstances of delicacy and difficulty" some prudential instructions were issued to him by the General Assembly, "governing himself by which the knowledge of religion among the Negroes might be made more and more to strengthen the order of the society." The annals of the year 1801 report him in the service of the Hanover Presbytery as a "riding missionary under the direction of the General Assembly." He was very soon stationed in Lexington as a recognized preacher of official status working among his own people. In 1805, however, he returned to his native State, where as a result of the close relations between the whites and blacks and his power as an expounder of the gospel, he preached to large congregations of both races. Referring to his career, Paul C, Cameron, a son of Judge Duncan of North Carolina said: "In my boyhood life at my father’s home I often saw John Chavis, a venerable old Negro man, recognized as a freeman and as a preacher or clergyman of the Presbyterian Church."

"The Presbytery of South Alabama said in 1847: "Perhaps without a solitary exception our ministers are devoting a considerable part of their labors to the benefit of the colored population. A scheme is now in agitation for the full consent of the Presbytery for establishing an African Church in the city of Charleston. In 1854 the report of the General Assembly on the instruction of Negroes in the slave States said that instead of abating, the interest in the religious welfare of the Negroes was increasing. In their houses of worship, provision at once special and liberal was made for the accommodation of the people of color so that they might enjoy the privileges of the sanctuary in common with the whites."

(The History of the Negro Church, Carter G. Woodson, Associated Publishers, 1921, pp. 52-58, 137-138)