Here’s an excerpt from David Goldfield’s America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation:
“Slavery had made the black man in America, in a few centuries,” Virginia jurist William C. Daniell explained in 1852, “what thousands of years had failed to accomplish for him at home, cultivating the aptitudes of the negro race for civilization and Christianity.”
As Daniell’s boast implied, it was incumbent upon White Americans, as part of their Christian duty, to rescue inferior races by offering instruction and the possibility of salvation. This was a key argument of white southerners for the institution of slavery, that it raised a downtrodden race from its primitive African origins to the possibility of salvation through Jesus Christ, inculcated discipline, and fashioned a family life unburdened by the need or concern for daily subsistence.”
I have always loved the nineteenth century.
In the nineteenth century, the Jewish Question was remarkably muted, and racial equality was contested in America between Northern and Southern Christians. In the South, Christianity was always invoked to justify racialism, slavery, and white supremacy. In parts of the North, Christianity often clashed with all these things, most famously with the abolitionists.
While researching the origins of the “Golden Circle,” I learned this was also true of Cuba. In Cuba, the Catholic Church also justified racialism, slavery, and white supremacy. This seems to have been true of all slave-based plantation societies with the exception of foreign born Baptist and Methodist missionaries operating in the British West Indies.
Update: More on the “incompatibility” of racialism and Christianity:
“It was not coincidental that the white southerners who took back their governments from black and white Republicans were called Redeemers, nor that the process through which it occurred was called Redemption. The term “redemption” was, of course, in widespread in America prior to the Civil War, especially among evangelicals. It referred to the process by which Jesus sacrificed His life to rescue sinful mankind from God’s wrath. The term implied a new birth as those who come to Christ are cleansed of their sins and saved “unton a new life eternal.”
Confederates talked of “redeeming” their states from Union control during the Civil War. After the war, the term usually implied a two-step process. Redemption would cleanse southern sins and therefore restore the Lord’s blessing on the South that He had withdrawn, as evidenced by defeat. It would remove “the yoke of Yankee and negro rule.” Redemption, therefore, would secure for white southerners the victory denied to them in the Civil War. The process toward Redemption was clear. As an Alabama editor declared in 1871, “The road to Redemption is under the white banner.” White southerners employed evangelical Protestantism to recreate an antebellum regime cleansed of sin. White religion in the South became the handmaiden of white supremacy.”
According to some White Nationalists, racialism and Christianity are irreconcilable, yet our own history shows us otherwise.