The Bonds of Wickedness: American Evangelicals against Slavery, 1770-1808by James D. Essig

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    The Bonds of Wickedness: American Evangelicals against Slavery, 1770-1808 by James D. EssigReview by: Gerald J. GoodwinThe North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. 60, No. 4 (October 1983), pp. 518-519Published by: North Carolina Office of Archives and HistoryStable URL: .Accessed: 18/06/2014 11:10

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  • 518 Book Reviews

    England's efforts to tighten its control of the American plantations and to pave the way for the expanding influence of colonial assemblies in the decades ahead.

    English America and the Revolution of 1688 is an important and iconoclastic

    interpretation of America's first critical period. Unfortunately, the author's wooden style, a mechanical organization that yields annoying repetition, and careless proofreading may discourage readers from giving the volume the critical attention it deserves.

    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill John K. Nelson

    The Bonds of Wickedness: American Evangelicals against Slavery, 1770-1808. By James

    D. Essig. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1982. Preface, notes, index. Pp. xiv, 208. $24.95.)

    This study supplements the work of David Brion Davis and others on the re

    lationship between Protestant evangelicalism and antislavery. It does so by fill

    ing in a neglected chapter in the history of evangelical antislavery from 1770 to the end of American participation in the foreign slave trade. It asks: Why did

    antislavery become a central concern of American evangelicals after 1770, and

    why did it cease to concern most of them by 1808? The author suggests that the decisive consideration in the rise and decline of

    evangelical antislavery was the interaction between evangelical spirituality and its social setting. Evangelical religion, he points out, encouraged converts to re

    ject worldly vanities, to cultivate simplicity and humility, to express piety with

    open sentiment, and to act benevolently toward others. Antislavery conviction welled up out of the evangelical experience under the stimulus of special social circumstances. Southern evangelicals, themselves the victims of religious op pression by the slave-owning gentry, came to see slaveholding as a sign of proud worldliness and the slave as another victim of abusive authority. Increasing numbers of evangelicals decided in the 1770s that slavery represented yet an other colonial sin and then in the 1780s that slavery threatened the Christian re

    public. If primitive Christian simplicity was to be restored, slavery had to be eliminated. The author strengthens his case by arguing that Connecticut's

    evangelical Congregationalists, who functioned in a supportive environment as a favored religious group, developed a different kind of antislavery ideology than did southern evangelicals.

    After achieving some modest successes within and without the churches, evangelical antislavery lost its momentum. In the 1790s southern evangelicals, no longer religious outcasts, were establishing denominations and securing re

    spectability. A minority demanded that antislavery thought be made an ex

    plicit part of the Christian testimony. But the evangelical majority disagreed, defined slavery as a political problem, and relied on foreign and domestic mis sions to evangelize blacks. Success and social acceptance by 1808 meant that

    evangelicals shared responsibility for justifying the social system. Distinguished by vigorous prose, coherent explanations, and an inter

    denominational perspective, this is a stimulating and enjoyable book. It ex pands historians' knowledge of the connections between evangelical religion and


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  • Book Reviews 519

    antislavery dogma. And its insights and conclusions suggest fresh ways of look

    ing at the social consequences of religious phenomena in other periods.

    University of Houston Gerald J. Goodwin

    The Continental Army. By Robert K. Wright, Jr. (Washington: Center of Military

    History, United States Army, 1983. Frontispiece, foreword, preface, bibliography,

    tables, charts, maps, illustrations, glossary, index. Pp. xvii, 451. Paper, $15.00.)

    Robert K. Wright's The Continental Army is primarily a reference work that

    will be of particular interest to genealogists and military historians. Wright has

    organized his study into two nearly equal parts. The first is a detailed narrative

    of the organization and deployment of the Continental Army's regimental units.

    Attributing the origins of the Continental Army's organizational patterns to the

    colonial militarya mixture of local militia and provincial volunteersWright

    proceeds to demonstrate how under the control of the Continental Congress the

    army was transformed by 1779 into a unified, national force. Central to the

    transformation of the Continental Army was Congress's reliance on European

    professional soldiers and on European military doctrine in reforming the organi zation of support troops. In particular, the army benefited from the services of

    the skilled French engineer Louis le Bgue de Presle Duportail, the Polish mili

    tary engineer Thaddeus Kosciuszko, and especially the Prussian veteran

    "Baron" Friedrich von Steuben, whose simplified set of drill procedures and

    uniform drill manual were instrumental in professionalizing Continental

    soldiers. On the whole, Wright's theme is a familiar and narrow one that is

    marred by what may be called organizational determinism. Wright too often at

    tributes victories in the field and successful retreats to changes in military or

    ganization without taking into account all the other factorsstrategy, leader

    ship, esprit de corps, experience, weather, terrain, and luckthat invariably

    shape the outcome of battles and wars.

    The second part of Wright's study contains lineages of every permanent unit

    of the Continental Army177 in allgrouped into eighteen sections (by state

    regiment and then by function). Each of these sections includes an outline map

    showing county boundaries as of July 4, 1776, a selected bibliography, and a list

    of the engagements in which the units fought. By identifying regiments that

    served outside their home regions, this part of the study will be extremely valuable to future researchers who are interested in the extent to which the

    Revolutionary War was a nationalizing experience. An excellent bibliography and several useful appendixes complete the volume.

    The United States Army's Center of Military History is to be commended for

    publishing such a handsomely illustrated, scholarly work, documented with ex

    tensive notes at the bottom of the page where they belong. Copies of The Con

    tinental Army can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, Gov

    ernment Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 20402.

    Princeton University

    E. Wayne Carp


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    Article Contentsp. 518p. 519

    Issue Table of ContentsThe North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. 60, No. 4 (October 1983), pp. 399-584Front MatterCatholicism in Antebellum North Carolina [pp. 399-430]The Building Process in Antebellum North Carolina [pp. 431-456]A Journalistic Medley: Newspapers and Periodicals in A Small North Carolina Community, 1859-1860 [pp. 457-485]The Response to the 1983 Readership Survey [pp. 486-498]Book ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 499-500]Review: untitled [pp. 500-502]Review: untitled [pp. 503-503]Review: untitled [pp. 504-504]Review: untitled [pp. 505-505]Review: untitled [pp. 505-506]Review: untitled [pp. 507-507]Review: untitled [pp. 508-508]Review: untitled [pp. 508-509]Review: untitled [pp. 509-510]Review: untitled [pp. 510-511]Review: untitled [pp. 511-512]Review: untitled [pp. 512-512]Review: untitled [pp. 513-513]Review: untitled [pp. 513-514]Review: untitled [pp. 514-515]Review: untitled [pp. 515-516]Review: untitled [pp. 516-517]Review: untitled [pp. 517-518]Review: untitled [pp. 518-519]Review: untitled [pp. 519-519]Review: untitled [pp. 520-520]Review: untitled [pp. 520-521]Review: untitled [pp. 521-522]Review: untitled [pp. 522-523]Review: untitled [pp. 524-525]Review: untitled [pp. 525-526]Other Recent Publications [pp. 526-530]

    Back Matter


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