Academic journal article Civil War History

Hubbell Prize Awarded

Academic journal article Civil War History

Hubbell Prize Awarded

Article excerpt

CHRISTOPHER A. LUSE has won the John T. Hubbell Prize for the best article published in Civil War History during 2007. His study on "Slavery's Champions Stood at Odds: Polygenesis and the Defense of Slavery" was selected by a committee at the Richards Civil War Era Center at the Pennsylvania State University. The prize earns the recipient a $1,000 award.

Luse's article earned distinction for delving deep into the intricacies of American race relations, examining of the little-studied anomaly of proslavery Southern Christians' opposition to the growing power of scientific racism and the advancement of polygenesis--the belief that those of African descent were a separately created species with a fundamentally different origin and nature. White Southern Christians viewed polygenesis as a direct threat to the orthodox interpretation of the creation account in Genesis, and part of a broader attack on a conservative and religious worldview. Proslavery Christians vigorously defended the humanity of black slaves, ironically employing some of the same arguments as abolitionists, and at the same time, campaigned against its "abuses."

With the defeat of the Confederacy and the destruction of slavery, however, appeals by proslavery Christians for benevolent race relations based on old paternalist rhetoric fell on deaf ears. A new more severe form of racism based on "biblical polygenesis" flourished and, along with lynchings and legal segregation, represented "the South's contribution to the triumph of harsh racism throughout the Western world. …

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