Wed, 18 Feb 2004 06:11:40 -0500
By selective use of the Bible, prior to the Civil War it was appealed to
both in Hannibal and elsewhere by abolitionists and slavers--as is shown by
my book, Amazing Grace in John Newton: Slave Ship Captain, Hymnwriter, and
Abolitionist. Albert Barnes pointed out that Philemon was requested to
treat Onesimus as a "brother." Then he asks: "Is it treating one in all
respects as a Christian brother to deprive him of freedom; to consider him
as an article of merchanndise; to exact his labor without compensation?
Would the man himself who makes another a slave, suppose that he was treated
as a Christian brother, if he were reduced to that condition?... The
principles laid down in this Epistle to Philemon, therefore, would lead to
the universal abolition of slavery." In the early 19th century Catholic
bishop Johann Sailer made this same appeal to Philemon in opposing slavery.
Like Shelley Fisher Fishkin, I have wonderful memories of Jervis Langdon,
Jr. While in residence at Quarry Farm he visited me and talked with me
about matters pertaining to MT's religion. He gave me a relevant
publication by Thomas Beecher, which I passed on to the archivist at Elmira
College because it was so rare that no copy of it was lodged in the MT
I appreciate Terrell Dempsey's good review in this Forum of my book, Mark
Twain's Religiion, that Mercer University Press published last November.