July 10, 1863: The Southern Church Justified in its support of the South in the present War.

John Randolph Tucker

The Richmond Daily Dispatch lauds John Randolph Tucker, a Virginia lawyer and politician who argued that the southern churches and (white) southern people were right to favor slavery and secession.


“The Southern Church Justified in its support of the South in the present War.”

–This is the title of a Lecture recently delivered by John Randolph Tucker before the Young Men’s Christian Association, and which has been published nearly in pamphlet form by Clemmitt. Mr. Tucker, in his brief and vigorous review of the causes which led to the present struggle, not only vindicates the Southern Church but the Southern people, for their attitude before the world. His lecture is one of the most concise, as well as conclusive statements of the cause that has been put in print.


As noted in the Dispatch item, the lecture was published, and is available from the Duke University archives. His argument starts with a quick nod to states’ rights; the individual states are in a compact with the federal government, and the federal government has only the powers that the states choose to delegate. The question of which powers are rightfully delegated was abstract, though, until they were made practical by the “difference in the structure of society, North and South.” This difference arises from the “natural law” that slavery is the best possible status for black people, as they are “incapable of freedom, save to be licentious and brutal and savage.” It appears he had read Marx; he holds that slavery made the South exceptional in that it was immune from the conflict between capital and labor. Secession resulted because white southerners found that the hatred of the North for slavery threatened this ideal social arrangement. Worst of all, the Northern church denounced slavery, with obvious disregard for scripture:


For more than half a century, the Northern mind had been deeply imbued with a hostile sentiment towards slavery. Fanaticism had seized the pulpit, the press, the hustings, the school. Professing Christian men saw slaveholding to be the most heinous sin. Preachers ceased to denounce the sin of unbelief in /Christ, and preached perdition as the slaveholder’s doom. Churches were disordered by the schismatic dogma, that slavery, -per se, was sin. To hold a slave, was to hold damning heresy.

In vain did the Christian slaveholder quote the Old and New Scriptures — the language of Peter, of Paul, and of Christ — in vain, did he point to the slaveholding centurion, as the Saviour’s exemplar of a faith unattaincd by his chosen people — in vain, did lie claim that the apostolic injunction of justice from the master to his slave, and of obedience from the slave to his master, was inconsistent with the doctrine of the inherent sinfulness of the relation between them. The answer of Abolition was simple : ” If the Bible sanctions slavery, it is not from God ! If Christ tolerated slavery, he is not a divine teacher !” Thus, anti-slavery became anti-Christ ! and Abolition became Infidelity and Atheism !

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2 Responses to July 10, 1863: The Southern Church Justified in its support of the South in the present War.

  1. Steve Genovese says:

    Slavery was based on the false presupposition that certain individuals were:

    1. without individual inalienable rights
    2. were property
    3. did not have a soul

    4. The Northern States in declaring slavery an evil and unconstitutional was the most halfway compassionate act of the Civil War. Our Constitutional Founding Fathers from Virginia freed their slaves upon their deaths. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson freed their slaves. both What message did that give. Recall the Amistad case. Southern judges voted against Southern slave owners.

    5. The other half was in the heart and logic of Abraham Lincoln. Gives the former slaves, know rightly US Citizens 40 acres and a mule. That notions

    6. There was no Biblical Christian basis to justify southern slavery or any slavery. It was inhuman, degrading and founded on greed.

    7. The South was soundly defeated. They got a sound whoppin. The Matter is Closed.

  2. Jim H says:

    Repeal the 10th amendment. In Canada’s version of Federalism, since parliament is supreme, and the provinces, like the states, are dependent creations of the federal government, the Canadian provinces are sovereign only to an extent. The changing balance of power in different ages makes the province’s powers ebb and flow. During the liberalization of Quebec in the ’60s, they wanted more power over hydroelectricity and pensions, so they got that. They’ve been through a “secession crisis”, and responded by agreeing to abide by referendums, which have all failed. As the Southern crisis would have faded had each state held an honest one, and not had a political class that was hot for combat. The things that are properly Federal in Canada are the criminal code, one law for all, the banking system by which Ottawa charters banks and has had NO bank failures ever… We’ve had tens of thousands of weak banks founded by hustlers. Seriously, the idea that it’s the STATES that have the inalienable rights is antithetical to what a national government is about: to defend the rights of every individual person. This whole “states’ rights” nonsense was indefensible when Faubus blocked the door to the school as it is on the court today. We should amend our way to sanity.

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