Richmond 1865: Faith, Church, and Slavery

Here’s historian Edward Ayers speaking on Slavery and Religion in Richmond before and during the Civil War.  This is really a good talk.

Here’s the video’s description:  “One hundred and fifty years ago in April, Richmond was burning, the Civil War was ending, and over 3.9 million slaves had been declared freepersons. What was Richmond like in 1865 and in the years that followed? How did people of faith respond to the war and its aftermath? Dr. Ed Ayers, an American historian, professor, and president of the University of Richmond, enlightens us about this time in our history and the way it influences our present.”



  1. I’ve learned expect nothing but the best from Edward Ayers. Thank you for sharing that lecture.
    He says that if the Confederate won slavery could have continued for another 50 years, debunking the lost cause myth that slavery was ending before the war started.
    Were antebellum Southern churches operating not as religious institutions but as pseudo political bodies working to indoctrinate the voting public to serve and obey the slave owning aristocracy?

    1. Probably much longer than fifty years. They might still have it to this day.

      I’d say it mostly depends on the minister/priest in charge; however, recall that Protestant sects split into Northern and Southern versions as a result of slavery.

  2. I agree, slavery probably would.have lasted longer than fifty years. Even if Confederates had won, and ended slavery, there still would have been a form of pseudo slavery due to strict enforcement of racial segregation.
    Politically active churches were in the North, actively challenging the pro slavery doctrines being preached in the South. We must remember that Churches were places for social interaction, and not just Bible study.

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