THE CHURCH AND THE SLAVE
"AS GOD HAS ORDAINED, the dispensations of the Gospel are to all men of all classes and conditions." There is good reason to believe that Anson West,1 in these words, spoke the conviction of a majority of the slave-owners of Alabama. There was little or no resistance to the religious teaching of the Negro in the state at any time. W. P. Harrison, a preacher among the slaves of Alabama, observed that a sincere religious attitude on the part of the master led inevitably to eagerness to share his religion with the slaves. "It was a noticeable fact," he wrote, "that wherever the master obtained this religion, really and truly obtained it, he was anxious also for it to be made known to those in bondage under him."2 Behind the many religious efforts made during the period of this study, fervent and earnest Christianity was a strong motivating force.
It is necessary to recognize also, however, that for the less deeply religious master, practical considerations entered into his willingness to let his slaves have religious teaching. A Christian slave might be expected to be a slave graced with meekness and the spirit of obedience. His value as a faithful servant was enhanced. When suspicion arose that the teachings of religion were stirring discontent, enthusiasm for the work of the church waned. The institution of slavery came first. The bonds of slavery must not be loosened.
Law as well as public opinion sanctioned the teaching of slaves. When Mary G. Pickens, as administratrix for her husband's estate,____________________